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May Jefferson Award Winner Sutton Shaw

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BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. (WACH)-- A Midlands woman shows a number of people the power of healing at her Big Red Barn retreat in Blythewood.

The barn has become a starting point for many on their journey towards peace.

The founder, Sutton Shaw heard about the suicide rate among military members and decided to give back to the community.

The Big Red Barn offers free services for active military members and veterans with meditating yoga and a healing arts program.

"For me, to think of someone in such pain at that moment enough to take their life we wanted to do something about it."

The barn also has a veteran garden where heroes can immerse themselves in nature.

"Last year in 2017, we had about over 13-hundred veterans come through in the different services."

All of this stemmed from the passing of Sutton's father Leon Irons.

A few years ago, Sutton lost her father to cancer...that led the family to use horses to help people heal.

"My mother was devastated. She had been married to him 50 years, so she spent a lot of time with me and my daughter out there at the barn," Sutton said.

"But at the end of the day, that horse really helped my mother and my mother wanted that for others."

But the process is a bit different than what you may think. Instead of riding a horse, the veterans give them commands and are monitored closely.

A license therapist and a horse expert work with the veterans and use the horse as a tool for the veterans to interact with, to better understand what the veterans are feeling.

"they follow a methodology called Eagala and so the therapist uses the horse as a tool that the veteran interacts with and through the interaction they get feedback on what the veteran is feeling based on the reaction of the horse."

"It's interesting to watch how they react when the horse won't do what they want. Do they get mad, do they get angry? Do they get frustrated?"

Therapy is a way to give veterans a better view of themselves and a reminder that there is enough hope to fill up a red barn and more.


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