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For 16 years Matt Pittman was able to do what he loved: serve his community as a law enforcement officer. After working for the Weber County Sheriffs Office in Utah for 8 years, he and his family moved to Arizona where he was hired on with the Gilbert Police Department. Matt loved the chance to interact with the public, to strive to keep people safe and to help those who were, for one reason or another, unable to help themselves. He loved to push himself and was involved in everything he could be: training new officers, SWAT, the Traffic Division as a motorcycle cop, and reigning food eating champion!
Matt had been with Gilbert for 6 years when one fateful day in 2015 he was involved in a tragic incident that left him with a broken back and a PTSD diagnosis. He was told that due to his injuries from that day, both physical and mental, he would never be able to return to the job he had loved so much. For the next 2 1/2 years, he struggled to get back to his old self. After exhausting everything that the medical community offered, he felt he had plateaued in his progress. Discouraged to think that this was as good as he would get, Matt turned to horses, primarily helping care for several horses belonging to a friend.
Then, at the end of 2017 and at the ‘gentle’ encouragement of his wife, Lindsey, Matt tried out volunteering at an equine-assisted therapy clinic. He immediately fell in love! He would come home with a peace and purpose that he had been missing for so long. He found something that wasn’t impeded by his physical limitations, and, most importantly, he found something that filled a void he had been missing since leaving law enforcement: Matt found an opportunity to make life better for others. He saw kids who at first couldn’t speak but then would leave telling jokes. He saw kids come out with hands so tense from the neurological tension that they couldn’t hold the reins or stop from shaking. But by the end of the session, the child was petting the horse, breathing calmly, and smiling! He saw miracles in the kids, and within himself. He found a place where he knew no one else had ulterior motives, where he could connect with an animal that could mirror his emotions and help him heal. He found joy!
Initially, Matt (and his wife!) was quite content with him volunteering. However, he would hear about the long waitlists, about kids who had made great progress with the horses then had had to stop because of insurance issues, and other unfortunate and limiting circumstances that showed him how great the need was for more places offering this type of therapy. On top of that, he wanted the incredible therapeutic benefits he had experienced personally to be accessible to other first responders in a way that wasn’t currently readily available. Through more miracles and a faith in our Creator, doors were opened for Matt and Lindsey to make that happen! Since the day they decided to put a plan into action, the outpouring of love and support from their friends and community have been integral in making Manes and Miracles a reality. Every day brings joy and an excitement for what the future holds for Manes and Miracles and the guests we help!
Hayden gets to leave behind the limitations of her wheelchair each week as she experiences the freedom of walking during therapy with Winston, her favorite horse.
When you join the Miracle Makers Club, you provide scholarships for Hayden and the over 60 other special needs friends receiving equine-assisted therapy at Manes and Miracles!