This is Carolina: Veterans and victims find solace in South Strand farm
MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - When a horse farm started in the South Strand six years ago, it was one of the first of its kind in the state.
It's operated by South Carolinians who wanted to quit their day jobs to help others. Now, the state is helping their mission and more people than ever are seeking their help for a more natural type of therapy.
On New River Road in Murrells Inlet, the second location for Barnabas Horse Association is opened. Founder Sue McKinney started it after seeing the benefit of horses with her own children.
"You know our philosophy is we take the time it takes; no relationship is ever forced. Everything is about making the best choices in the relationship, not what's best for the horse or the person but what's best for the two combined," McKinney said.
"I didn't even know it existed until I showed up and I didn't even really know how it was going to play out," volunteer and former client Chris Hussey said.
Hussey came to Barnabas for help coping with post-traumatic stress disorder. He's a 22-year Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
"But as soon as I laid my eyes on the place, I knew that was the place I needed to be," he said.
With the rescued horses and other furry friends, children with traumatic experiences and disabilities also come to Barnabas to find peace and healing.
"It helps me not forget, it helps me not think about my past life, and not think about the past, but think about what's now," 9-year-old Autumn said.
She was the foundation's first client six years ago, according to McKinney.
Autumn said she's had a hard life so far, and Barnabas helps her enjoy life's more simple pleasures and be free.
"Feeling the wind going through your hair just makes you feel calm and it's just beautiful here and I like it," Autumn said.
Barnabas Horse Foundation also include psychotherapy and it is the first alternative horse therapy association to receive South Carolina's Victims Advocate Grant.
McKinney said it pays for three full-time employees and one-part time worker. That way, all fundraiser proceeds can go straight back to providing for the horses and the foundation.
McKinney said the foundation has grown 1,000 percent the past few years and they service 150 clients a month. Every other week they were with students with disabilities from Coastal Carolina University as well.
"It gives me the opportunity to see people heal and through that process I get something out of it from that end, to see people just eat outside of themselves and be honest with themselves and a horse will definitely do that for you. A horse will know if you're being honest or not," Hussey said.
For more information, to volunteer or donate, click here.
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