CABOT, Ark. – Jimmy and Stacey McMinn have a mission in life, help as many people as possible living with a disability and improve their lives.

Little did they know their mission and support for their bull riding son Brannon, would be set on a collision course, and at the same time, thank God it did.

The McMinns are a big part of changing the lives of hundreds of kids at Beyond Boundaries Hippotherapy, where they use horseback riding as a way to heal.

“I’ve seen kids talk for the first time, children with autism they tell the horse to go, hello,” Stacey said. “Talk to their parents for the first time, and of course we have seen first steps.”

Jimmy said he left working in the oil fields to volunteer full time. One of the biggest hurdles hippotherapy jumps is that it’s not just a horse ride for the disabled. The science riding on it is proven, and it has Jimmy all in.

“The kids drew me in, they really did,” he said. “You see a kid talk and walk for the first time, I can’t leave, its humbling you know you are helping.”

The entire McMinn family – Jimmy, Stacey, Spence, Madison and young Brannon – have all played roles in the work since 2022, and Jimmy said his time with Beyond Boundaries has given him a greater appreciation for his wife and three healthy children.

“You don’t have it as bad as you think you do, you don’t,” he explained. “You think you have it bad? These parents are picking their kids up, they can’t walk, they can’t talk, they bath them, they feed them, they wipe them. It’s an eye-opener.”

Jimmy said that while the work in hippotherapy is fulfilling, the athletic Brannon’s ambition went beyond the horses. He planned to ride bulls.

“At first I did not want Brannon to ride. I told him it’s not worth it… the bones, the breaks, the everything,” he recalled. “But you want to push your kids in everything they want to do, you want to support them.”

His mom made sure he knew the risk, and Stacey didn’t pull any punches when talking with her son.

“’Brannon, it’s not when you get hurt, it’s how bad,’” she remembered telling him. “’Are you prepared for that and are you prepared what that’s going to do to us? It will affect our entire family if you get injured?’”

Jimmy had been a bull rider back in the day and was a bull fighter in the arena. He knew for Brannon there would be no short cuts, plenty of training, practice and rodeos.

“This is you and a 2000-pound athlete trying to throw you off,” Jimmy said he advised his son.

Brannon beat the bull more than he hit the arena dirt, becoming Arkansas Teenage Rodeo Association Champion, but he wasn’t done. In June 2022, Brannon was in position to win a spot to represent Arkansas High School Rodeo Association on a national stage in bull riding.

Any parent would be proud, but for Jimmy and Stacey, that feeling of elation would come to a sudden and heartbreaking halt.

“(It was the) worst day of our lives,” Jimmy said.

One of Brannon’s last rides that weekend was going well out of the gate, then the bull went up, Brannon slipped to the side, then underneath. The bulls back legs came down on the back of Brannon’s head.

Brannon was left motionless, and Stacey said she knew it was really bad “when he didn’t wake up, cause he didn’t wake up.”

Brannon spent the next several days in coma. He slowly came back, the son his parents knew eventually coming through.

“The first time he opened his eyes, and he said sorry. Sorry, he mouthed to me, sorry,” Stacey shared. “One night he mouthed, I’m going to be okay”

“When I first woke up, I did not know what was going on,” Brannon recalled. “I thought I was a little sore or hurt from the rodeo. I thought I broke both my legs or something.”

Unfortunately, his injury was worse than that. He had a TBI, or a traumatic brain injury. In total, Brannon suffered seven brain bleeds on his brain stem.

He was awake, but still no one knew if he would be able to speak, see, hear, eat or let along walk on his own ever again.

Ever the cowboy, Brannon’s bull riding spirit had him focused on the next rodeo, not what happened at the last one.

“I was sitting there, I’m like, ‘Man, give me another couple months and I’ll be back on another one,’” he said he remembered thinking. “Nope. I didn’t realize how bad it really was until I had my feeding tube taken out. That was a wakeup call when I could talk and communicate with my parents.”

It’s been six months since Brannon’s injury. His recovery has astounded everyone, and he’s back in the arena.

“No bull riding, I’m out on that,” he explained. “I’m tapping out on bull riding, even though it was ton a fun.”

Now he saddles up at the Beyond Boundaries arena, with mom and dad, overseeing his equine therapy. This family of faith has no doubts it’s God’s plan for a special young man.

“It’s like he (God) trained us to be ready for the situation, and we are,” Jimmy said.

The family said evidence of that divine intent came while Brannon dreamed of a Bible verse, 1 Timothy 4:12, over and over in the hospital.

Let no one despise your youth. Instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, faith and purity.

1 Timothy 4:12

“Waking up, and that verse I was getting told over and over and over,” Brannon said. “I was like, ‘No way! God?! You doing this?”

“We’ve always had good faith, and we knew we had to lean into that,” Stacey explained. “When we leaned into that when we were in the hospital it gave us the opportunity to focus on Brannon. Every prayer we needed was answered.”

Today Brannon is back at school. He’ll graduate this year and then it’s on to the University of Arkansas. He plans on becoming a physical therapist with a focus on helping rodeo athletes, bull riders included.

His Motto could be “You may not need me today but keep my card. Tomorrow may be a different story.”

His story is one of using faith to overcome whatever challenges life throws at you, and his mom and dad say they are lucky to continue to tell and support that story every day.