Every month, we take a moment to recognize one of our members who’s made an impact in our beloved community. This month, we are excited to feature Sue McKinney, Founder, President, Program Director, and lead Equine Professional at Barnabas Horse Foundation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Sue has been a model Natural Lifemanship member since she completed her Fundamentals training in 2014. Her passion and love for supporting people in their healing through Equine Assisted Psychotherapy can be seen in all the amazing work she does at Barnabas.
Learn more about Sue’s relationship with Natural Lifemanship and her journey growing Barnabas Horse Foundation into what it is today.
A Love From The Very Beginning
Sue started riding horses as a young girl and immediately formed strong connections with the animals around her. Even when she was growing up, her time riding was more than just a hobby.
“The barn was my safe place – a sanctuary,” Sue said.
This feeling of having a place that fosters safety and love, despite whatever else may be going on in the outside world, is something that’s stuck with her throughout her career.
Fueled by her early passion for horses, Sue went to school for horse farm management. Even though her love for horses never faded, she wouldn’t put her degree to use until later in life.
After seeing one of her own horses help a struggling family member, Sue had a realization that she wanted to help others with equines as partners.
The Beginning of Barnabas
Barnabas started out as an organization to support children who’ve survived abuse, using Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Sue started the foundation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and began helping kids in 2013.
Due to the organization’s immediate popularity within the area, Barnabas was approached by local crisis centers wanting to bring their clients into the program and expanded to serve all ages.
In the early years of the organization, Barnabas was run by hard working volunteers who shared a passion for healing through horses. After its success with trauma recovery for survivors of abuse, the state of South Carolina awarded Barnabas a Victim Advocacy Grant, making it the only alternative therapy organization to be funded by the state.
Barnabas was recently awarded its eighth grant and is able to employ three full time employees and a part time staff member. They now have over 150 booked sessions per month and also do work with first responders and veterans.
“The process never fails to leave me in awe,” Sue said.
Sue found Natural Lifemanship – or NL found her – while she was attending a trauma informed conference at a friend’s farm. Our co-founder, Tim Jobe, happened to be speaking that night and his words deeply resonated with her.
Sue looked up NL following the conference and was fascinated by our mission and the neurobiology data that could back up all the training.
“Science is finally catching up to what us horse girls have known all along,” Sue said.
She signed up for the Fundamentals of Natural Lifemanship training in 2014 and has been heavily involved with NL ever since. Her favorite training is Relationship Logic and Sue has completed it six times at The Wild Horse Sanctuary! She even ended up adopting three mustangs while at the program.
Sue’s Time with NL
We asked Sue a few questions about her time with Natural Lifemanship. She had some insightful responses for members or people who are considering membership.
How would you feel your membership with NL has evolved over the years?
“NL has changed quite a bit. Now, there’s so much information easily available. It seems that Bettina always has a webinar that is covering exactly what I’m curious about.
The other amazing evolution is how easy it is to schedule a consultation with a trainer. If I’m stuck on a problem with one of the horses, I can just send them a video and the trainers will analyze the problem and help me fix it.”
Has NL opened any doors for you?
“Natural Lifemanship gives us a LOT of credibility for grants. It shows that we are trained in trauma work and know what we’re doing. I know it means a lot to the people that award us grants that we continue to do the ongoing training that NL offers.”
Has it connected you to other practitioners?
“I’ve met the best people through NL. We all have a common bond of wanting to help horses and people. I feel like they’re my extended family.”
Has your access to NL improved your work with clients?
“It’s invaluable. I’ve learned more through NL than I have anyone else. They’ve given me the tools that I need to coach my clients and help them reach the next level of their healing journey.”
What advice would you give to someone considering NL membership?
“Don’t dip your toes, just dive in full force. NL has all the tools you will need to move forward in your life and for your clients. It’s a great way of life, and I think it’s the best way of life. I really am so grateful for NL.”
We’re so grateful to have Sue as a member of the NL community. She serves as an unbelievable role model to all those around her and we’re excited to see her and Barnabas continue to grow.
If you are interested in joining our membership community, we would love to welcome you! Learn more at www.naturallifemanship.com/memberships.
Each month we take a moment to recognize one of our members who’s made an impact in our beloved community.
For this month’s Member Spotlight, we’re focusing on Larry McDaniel, MSW, LCSW, who is the founder and former CEO of Coyote Hill Children’s Home. Larry is a valuable member of our community and uses the Natural Lifemanship approach to assist in his therapy and equine programs.
Learn more about Larry’s career in providing children with secure homes and his journey with Natural Lifemanship.
Keeping Kids Safe
Aware of a serious need for foster homes in Missouri that nurture a loving and safe environment, Larry and his late wife Cathy founded Coyote Hill in 1991. The organization started by caring for one child in a single home and quickly grew from there.
They now have a campus on 300 beautiful acres in central Missouri, called The Hill, that features six large foster family homes and a duplex. This is where they host their Equine Program.
Children are twice as likely to live with their siblings at The Hill compared to traditional foster homes and the organization boasts a 98 percent retention rate with foster families.
Coyote Hill has offices throughout Missouri in Columbia, Jefferson City, Moberly, and Hannibal. They’ve licensed over 200 foster homes in the last three years and provided safe homes to over 1,000 children.
Larry stepped down as the CEO of Coyote Hill a couple of years ago to focus more on the Equine Program.
Larry found Natural Lifemanship while researching ways to improve his Equine Program at Coyote Hill. He had previously trained with other EAP organizations but felt the need for something more.
He found friends and a community from his very first NL training, but it took time to fully embrace the Natural Lifemanship approach. Being used to traditional programs and techniques, while also possessing a task-oriented personality, Larry had difficulty getting into a rhythm early on.
“The NL approach isn’t about techniques, it’s about connection. I didn’t think I signed up for that, but in the end, it turned out to be the right thing,” Larry said.
It’s very common and natural for NL practitioners to face difficulty and uncertainty at some point in their NL journey. We are asking you to think very differently about your work and the way you engage with clients, horses and yourself. Larry knew if he stuck with it, he’d find tremendous value.
By letting go of his expectations of a traditional approach, Larry was able to thrive as a Natural Lifemanship practitioner. He’d ended up taking the Wild Horse Sanctuary – Relationship Logic Immersion training, which is still his favorite NL training to this day.
“I loved everything about it … the camaraderie, the camping, the mustangs, the hosts, the fireside chats, the cowboy poetry, and especially the food prepared at the campsite,” Larry said. “When I think of this training, it always brings a smile to my face.”
Since joining Natural Lifemanship, Larry has been proactive about sending other staff and therapists to the trainings he learned the most from. He’s seen a big difference in the way the children in his care are now able to embrace the concepts of trust, safety, and healthy relationships through their friendship with horses.
Larry’s Advice: Keep Going
Larry did not fit in at his initial NL trainings, to the point where he considered quitting in the middle of one training. He struggled with group activities and forming deep, personal connections with others.
Despite his early struggles, he kept at it and pursued an NL certification. He also contributed to an NL blog post in 2020 titled We Need So Much more than Words. His persistence was rewarded when he found Tim Jobe as a consultant for his certification journey. They formed a deep friendship and Tim was a great entry point into the NL way as someone who had personal experience working with youth in the foster care system.
While Larry still wouldn’t describe real connection as something that comes naturally to him, he’s recognized that he’s grown immensely in that area through NL’s trainings.
“I have learned that I can grow in the area of appreciating and actually pursuing meaningful connection to others and horses, and have found that connection to be valuable and something that has improved my work with others, and also improved my life in general,” he said. “Don’t beat yourself up because you are task-oriented or mission-minded. People like you built this world. But I believe the people who are best at managing it going forward, are those who understand the importance of sincere connection without agenda or expectation. It is a valuable skill to learn and grow in, and NL is a wonderful place to do that.”
We’re so proud of all Larry has accomplished and grateful to have him as a valued member of our NL community. We look forward to seeing him continue to impact the lives of those in his own community.
We have an exciting new monthly feature, our Member Spotlight, where we take a moment to recognize one of our members who’s made an impact in our beloved community.
This month we’re focusing on Cathy Champ, MA, LPC-S, LSOTP. Cathy is an incredible Natural Lifemanship Member and a longtime leader in our community of healers and helpers.
Learn more about Cathy’s background as a Licensed Professional Counselor and her vision for helping those struggling to improve their relationships with themselves and others.
Where Cathy got her start
During her 30-year career, Cathy Champ has counseled at elementary and middle schools, with justice-involved populations and at-risk youth, and worked as the Clinical Director of the Denton County Children’s Advocacy Center.
Inspired by her experiences with these organizations and schools, she opened up two counseling practices to further her lifelong passion for helping those in need. It was through this new chapter in her career that she was introduced to Natural Lifemanship and our principles.
A love for animals becomes a new career path
Her journey with Natural Lifemanship began the same way it does for most of our community members, with a deep love of people and animals.
For over a decade Cathy volunteered at the Denton Animal Shelter, and in 2011 she was named Volunteer of the Year for her commitment to protecting animals and fostering everything from dogs to bunnies.
This commitment, along with her desire to heal others led her to develop a curiosity in equine-assisted therapy.
Embarking on a new chapter with NL
Like many NL members, Cathay went to her first NL training knowing very little about horses but with a determination to take in everything. She was discouraged at first, given how much there is to learn about equine-assisted therapy, but she could see the healing power of the principles and how important it was to carry on. Pretty soon, things started to click. She formed a deep and lasting connection with the practice. At this point, she has experienced just about every training Natural Lifemanship offers.
Because of her work with Natural Lifemanship, Cathy has built a tremendous skill set and a thriving practice.
“I have confidence as a therapist as I lend my regulated nervous system and am present with my clients. I have so many tools to help them from the bottom of their brain stem up to their neocortex,” she said. “I have incorporated rhythm and walking EMDR and even a little mounted work. I work with clients in partnership with the animals or with nature and always with God.”
Cathy’s dedication to helping animals and her desire to connect with nature, two common characteristics many NL members share, led her and her husband to purchase a farm and open up Rockhill Counseling in Texas.
Opening up any business can be overwhelming. But fortunately for Cathy, she used the NL principles as a guide to navigate building up the foundation of her new counseling practice.
“Relationships mean everything,” she said. “We started building relationships with people and animals who could partner with us and who we would be a blessing to as well. We wanted all the workers, counselors, and animal partners to feel at home and to thrive here as well as help us create an amazing place for our clients to experience healing and to deepen their relationships with themselves and with others.”
Cathy’s counseling practice now includes six counselors, five horses, goats, chickens peacocks, miniature donkeys, a llama, and an alpaca. A diverse team to say the least!
Learning now and forever
Cathy continues to learn the NL way through webinars, online training, and in-person training. She’s grateful for the principles that guide her interactions with her clients, her husband, and even the little turtles in her pond. And we are grateful for her dedication to the principles of NL and our community.
Thank you, Cathy, for being such an active member and a leader within NL!