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.