In the midst of a trial no family should ever have to experience, God placed a vision on Sue McKinney's heart she could not ignore. Seeing the healing that came to one of her own children from being around the family's horses, she combined her love of horses and children and began this foundation in 2011. Initially Barnabas, which means "encourager," began offering equine-assisted psychotherapy to abused and traumatized children, seeing their first clients in January 2013. Because of the high need for alternative therapies in Horry and Georgetown Counties, Barnabas Horse Foundation also began serving women in crisis, partnering with the Rape Crisis Center in 2014. With much prayer and discussion, in 2015, Barnabas launched a safe haven for our warriors who now battle post traumatic stress syndrome, making every Monday morning Veteran's Day at the farm. With the rapid growth in the program, over 533% in three years, the board decided to to hold off on adding any further programs. However, God wasn't finished with Barnabas yet!
The Bible tells us in Isaiah 55:8, "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' declares the Lord." In the pursuit of a certification as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, Sue McKinney and Laurie Johnson volunteered at Bethlehem Therapeutic Riding Stables, under the tutelage of Gwendolyn Maddrix, working with special needs riders and wounded warriors. They fell in love with the families they worked with! In their excitement, they immediately took it back to the board of directors, and it was unanimously approved to begin a therapeutic riding program for those with special needs. BHF now offers special needs programs throughout the week and two Saturdays a month for riders and non-riders. Barnabas has also partnered with Bethlehem as sister programs, sharing our knowledge and our love of every area of equine-assisted therapies.
Out of one family's tragedy and heartbreak, came a foundation that shares love, hope, and healing through fellowship with horses for those who have walked a similar path. To God be the glory forever and ever!