Bennie's Barn - A Place Where Miracles Happen
Enid, OK —
At the end of a dusty Oklahoma road lies a typical looking red barn that is anything but typical. This is Bennie’s Barn, a magical place just outside of Enid, Oklahoma, where people gather to watch miracles happen everyday.
“We were tired of being sad,” said Chip Baker, who runs Bennie’s Barn. “We wanted something to give a legacy on the love she put into our lives to go into everybody else’s lives.”
Bennie’s Barn is a non-profit that’s named after Bennie Mullins, a legendary giver and provider in the Enid community. Baker carries on her tradition of giving by providing equine therapy to people young and old, who have a special need or a special past.
Because of what happens inside, Amanda Talley’s son is now speaking.
“We noticed he wasn’t talking at 18 months,” Talley said.
Talley’s son, Peter, has autism and couldn’t talk when he first came to Bennie’s Barn. But time in the saddle, with instructor Keith Siragusa by his side, changed his life.
“During the three years that we’ve been here, he went from barely talking to speaking in full sentences,” Talley said.
It’s one on one time, spent learning state capitals, that have brought Peter out of his shell. And it’s the time on a horse where the sights, the smells, and the movement allowed him to progress from a special needs classroom to a general education classroom.
The therapy has also provided Peter the courage to take his singing from Bennie’s Barn, to his elementary school where he sang the National Anthem in front of his classmates.
“To go from not being able to communicate with your child, to actually having a conversation with him, you know there’s magic here,” Talley said.
But Peter’s not alone.
“I’m not only the instructor, I’m the client, too."
Keith Siragusa is a witness to the healing that takes place inside Bennie’s Barn. He suffers from PTSD from his time as a police officer in Enid and in New York City during 9/11.
“I retired from the police department (after) 21 years and I wasn’t making a difference,” Siragusa said. “Since I started here I’m making a difference day in and day out.”
Baker says people from Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas travel to Bennie’s Barn. In all, he provides over 200 lessons a week using about 30 horses that have been rescued from abuse and neglect, or saved from the slaughter house.
Every person and every horse stepping onto the dirt leaves this barn changed for the better.
And that’s exactly how Baker planned it.
“We started this with a passion, with a love, and I did not realize that grown men could cry that much in the same room together,” Baker said.
They are life changing miracles for everyone involved.
“I don’t care who you are – grown man or whatever – you’re going to break down in tears and it’s going to run down your face,” Baker said. “That’s what we deal with every day.”
“Some miracle is happening,” Talley said. “It effects (Peter’s) core, it effects his entire body to where he can actually tell you what he wants, express his emotions, and just be a little boy for you.”
If you'd like to volunteer at Bennie's Barn or help them in other ways, please click here.