Our Story

In 1999, Kay Barkwill had an unexpected opportunity to meet the most amazing young lady, Lindsey Connelly. She was only eight years old and had just gone through surgery for a cancerous tumor on her brain stem. The effects of the surgery left this once very healthy and vital child, blind and in a wheelchair barely able to move most of her body. As Kay got to know Lindsey, her heart was overwhelmed by Lindsey’s love and unwavering determination to live life to its fullest despite her circumstances. Prior to her illness, Lindsey loved to ride. It became clear to Kay that there had to be a way to allow her to ride again. After teaming up with Cathy Dodson and hours of research the dream was born. The dream that would allow Lindsey and others with special challenges to experience the joy and growth they could gain through the interaction with gentle yet big-hearted horses. Today their dream is a reality.

Horses with Hearts (HwH) received its non-profit status from the IRS in Nov 2005 and is now a 501(c)3 organization. The program was started with one horse and one rider.  In March 2006, Lindsey, who moved to NC, was diagnosed with another cancerous tumor. Lindsey died in July 2006. They never got her on the horse but because of the example she set before them, Horses with Hearts has grown to serving over 40 individuals each year since 2012.

The dream continues to grow as they received a donation of 31 acres of land off Files Cross Road in Martinsburg, WV from Trinity United Methodist Church of Martinsburg, WV.  The ground breaking and grand opening of the farm was in 2014 and lessons have been conducted there since August 2014.  The hope is to build an indoor facility and be able to move the program from a part-time seasonal program to a full-time, year- round program, allowing them to provide services to their local schools and veterans.

HwH is a PATH international Member Center. It is their desire to become a PATH Intl. Certified Center and they continue to work through the process of meeting those requirements. HwH currently has one PATH Intl. Certified Riding Instructor. Cathy Dodson received her PATH Intl Instructor Certifications in October 2007.

Lindsey created smiles everywhere she went. It is from her inspiration that the Horses with Hearts motto developed — Create a Smile, Grow confidence, Change a life!

Horses with Hearts is Lindsey’s legacy.

Horses with Hearts is Lindsey’s legacy.

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