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Anna was born and raised on a hobby farm south of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Following her fast-growing passion of working with horses, she attended UW River Falls where she graduated May 2017 with a B.S. in Animal Science (emphasis on horses) and a minor in Spanish. She also was involved with PATH International and became certified as a Therapeutic Horseback Riding Instructor. Anna and her husband were married fall of 2019 and settled in the Hayward area with their dog, Midas. Huge future endeavors include starting up a therapeutic horseback riding program working with the disabled, veterans, and anyone who has a passion for horses and people. Whenever she isn’t working you can find her spending time with family, swing/country two step dancing, or whipping up a recipe from her new cookbook. 


Michele Martell grew up with a United States Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant for a father. He encouraged her to take part in the Young Marines organization from the age of 8 through age 12 where she "retired" as a sergeant. Michele always had a love of horses but was a country girl living in the city & waited many years before she purchased her first horse. “Axel” was a great partner and best friend who taught her many things about horses and helped her through a painful divorce. She enjoys helping Horse Spirit with marketing and promotion as well as being a mentor at the group sessions. Michele & her husband Jason have 3 horses & own Pine Brook Farm restaurant in Spooner, WI. The restaurant continues to be the site of the annual Horse Spirit fundraiser each September. Michele enjoys riding her horse “Blaze” & spending time with her husband & family. 


Colonel (Ret) Paul Wharton is a Vietnam veteran. Among the awards he earned
during his tour there was the Silver Star. He is a successful businessman and
entrepreneur and served as a senior level defense contractor in Afghanistan for five years. He is the current Horse Spirit Board Treasurer and one of our Horse Spirit mentors. He is active in numerous civic and veterans organizations and currently sits on the boards of two nationally recognized philanthropic foundations. He has three children, one of whom previously commanded a US Army Cavalry Squadron. He also has two grandchildren, two dogs, and a Paso Fino gelding named "Mojo". 



Renee Brown is an Air Force Veteran of 5 years and served nearly ten years working in the local county veteran service office helping Veterans access and apply for Veterans benefits. Although Renee is changing career fields and will be working for the US Forest Service, her passion for serving Veterans
remains. Working so closely with the men and women who sacrificed so much, Renee saw the need for alternative therapy methods to help them adjust back to civilian life and provide relief from trauma experienced in the military. These alternative therapy methods include art, gardening, kayaking, and horse-related learning activities. A past participant of Horse Spirit, Renee herself witnessed the way a partnership with a horse can provide a sense of hope and healing. In addition to serving in local Veteran organizations and as a Horse Spirit Board Member and Mentor, Renee enjoys spending time in the great outdoors hiking, fishing, and camping with her family and their three dogs.


Photos by Lesa Ann Molitor Fine Art Photography


Horse Spirit was dreamt about and brought to life by Sandy Jean Sheehan. Horses were Sandy's passion. She and her husband traveled the country showing cutting horses in the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA), where Sandy, along with her mare, Justa Swingin Farrah (pictured), attained many trophies and buckles including top in her class for her area, which included all of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.  It was 2006 when Sandy and Leonard bought a chunk of land in the Brown Lee area south of Hayward, Wisconsin and built Whispering Oaks Equine Center where they bred, raised, and rescued many horses.  A few years later, Sandy's most precious memories came to life  when working with the youth, adults and combat veterans of the area using her horses as healers and working with connecting horse spirit to help both the young and older folks be the best they could be. Sandy lost her battle with cancer on August 23, 2015, but her legacy and passion for horses and people carries on through her husband and the non-profit organization, Horse Spirit. 


Brian Sengbusch served our country in the US Army beginning in 1977 up until 2001, at which time he retired as Command Sergeant Major in the 7th Calvary at Ft. Hood Texas. In 2005, Brian was called out of retirement to serve with Striker Battalion and served another four years. Brian’s long and distinguished military career meant several deployments overseas--he was a highly decorated Veteran with many medals, ribbons, and badges, some of which include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with Combat Valor Device, and two Bronze Star Medals. After his military service, Brian retired to northern Wisconsin to land he purchased while still in the military. During 2013, Brian first became a participant in Horse Spirit, falling in love with the program so much (and Horse Spirit horse "Dolly"), that he eventually purchased his own two horses, "Mountain Man" and "Miss Rose", and became a Mentor for the program. Brian helped other Veterans connect to the healing spirit of horses. He believed strongly in the program and was a mighty force in helping Horse Spirit become what it is today. His passion overflowed into his mentor-ship to eventually volunteering on the Horse Spirit Board of Directors, serving as our President until his untimely passing on June 24, 2019. To say Brian will be missed is a great understatement, but he lives on in our program and the legacy he left Horse Spirit. 

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