Visiting Viola, a Horse with a Mission

We recently visited Tanya K. Welsch and her horse Viola at the MN LINC (Minnesota Linking Individuals, Nature, and Critters) nonprofit organization in Hamel, Minnesota. Tanya is the cofounder of MN LINC (, an amazing charity that pairs at-risk youth and other people with animals to give them a nature-based experience that enhances and enriches their psychotherapy, counseling, or educational programs.

Tanya’s heart-opening story “Viola, Wise Mother Mare” is featured in our new book HORSES WITH A MISSION. The book launch on Tuesday, October 6th, 7:30 p.m. CDT at Garrison Keillor’s Common Good Books will also serve as a fundraiser for MN LINC. The bookstore is generously donating 10 percent of all sales to MN LINC the night of the launch.

Viola, a Norwegian Fjord, was imported from Norway to become a broodmare in upstate New York. Eventually Viola made her way to Tanya and MN LINC. Viola put her mothering skills to excellent use as a co-therapist in MN LINC’s animal-and-nature-facilitated psychotherapy, learning, and wellness program for youth and families. With her innate maternal wisdom, Viola is incredibly intuitive and nurturing, especially with at-risk youth.

It was delightful for us to talk with Tanya and find out firsthand how MN LINC positively affects children who have had a rough start in life. Tanya explained that often with children traditional therapy isn’t as effective because it requires sitting in a chair and communicating thoughts and feelings.

We could relate. We remembered asking our kids when they were little, “How was your day?” Answer: “Fine.” Or “How are you feeling?” Answer: “Okay.”

When Tanya and her specially trained staff and volunteers match the children with a horse, or goat, or chicken, or rabbit, the children begin to express their emotions naturally. Adults also come to MN LINC for the kind of nature and animal-based experience that they couldn’t find anywhere else. Social services, the court system, schools, and therapists refer children to this organization for its innovative and highly effective approaches.

It was a thrill to visit with the gorgeous mare Viola and other animals at the MN LINC facility. Viola was all we expected and more. She displayed a deep calm with an intuitive, almost magical touch.

We also got to meet and spend time with Carolyn Hauck and her rescued horse Dillon. Carolyn helps to get the word out about MN LINC and how much good the organization does for those who would benefit from animal assisted therapy. If you would like to meet Tanya and hear her story about Viola, come to the HORSES WITH A MISSION book launch and MN LINC fundraiser at Garrison Keillor’s Common Good Books in St. Paul.

You can also meet Tanya and another Minnesota contributing author, Pauline Peterson, at Minnetonka BORDERS Books and Music. Visit for details about the book events in St. Paul and Minnetonka.

So mark you calendars! We want a big crowd and lots of bookstore donations for MN LINC.

Visit to see photos of our visit to MN LINC.

What are the charitable organizations you support that help both people and animals?

We welcome you to answer this question and the “Something to Think About” question at our blogs and forums, so everyone can see your comments.

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We hope you’ll consider HORSES WITH A MISSION: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service (New World Library, September 1, 2009). It’s available, autographed, at Angel Animals Online Bookstore,, (, Barnes & Noble (, Borders Books & Music (, New World Library ( and other online and independent bookstores.

“This important book will spark your imagination and inspire you to embrace the magical moments in life that happen every single day. This book is a joy to read.”
–Melanie Sue Bowles, author of HOOF PRINTS and founder of Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary

Go to to read excerpts of the book, see video clips of stories, and join in the fun of launching this exciting new book.

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Don’t forget to enter the Dogs and the Women Who Love Them True Story Contest described in the announcement below. We’re looking forward to reading your stories. CONTEST DEADLINE — SEPTEMBER 30, 2009 — IS FAST-APPROACHING.

Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network