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Review by Nancy Brannon

What does it take to start an equine therapy program using rescued horses? A lot of faith, and, in this case, “blind faith.” The protagonist, who defines herself in terms of “worry and trust,” is more often heard to think or pray that “God will provide.” But the difficult tasks she faces often demand a lot more human effort and preparation.

This is the heartwarming true story of a blind Appaloosa named Joey. At the height of his show career, this Appaloosa’s stature, strength, and willingness to work made him the perfect partner. But when an injury cost Joey his show career, he moved from one owner to the next, ultimately experiencing severe abuse and neglect. A rescue group found Joey nearly dead from starvation—and blind.

Then he came to Hope Reins—a ranch dedicated to helping hurting kids who had been abused, emotionally wounded, or unwanted. By teaching these children to care for rescued animals, the Hope Reins staff members were convinced they could reach kids with love and hope.

But could the financially struggling ranch afford to take care of a blind horse, and other rescued  horses, that had no place else to go? Yes, hosting a fundraiser helps to temporarily halt the imbalance of costs and income.

Throughout the book Joey is portrayed as a horse who has an amazing influence on the children who come to Hope Reins, as well as on the volunteer workers at Hope Reins. He has a way of turning his head and neck to a person standing next to him that seems to embrace the person.

The volunteers at Hope Reins are very diligent in their caring for the horses, as well as the client children and their families. However, their attempts at training Joey and his pasture mate Speckles are often uninformed by real horse training techniques, employing a “learn as you go approach.” Sometimes it works, but the lack of experience at managing horses does get Joey hurt.

Bleakly writes: “Hope Reins is based upon 2 Corinthians 1:3-5: God comforts us in our time of need, so that we can comfort others in their time of need.” That comfort is not just for the hurting children, but it is also for the volunteers and to everyone who donates to Hope Reins. Even though it is a constant battle to manage everything – especially the costs, “walking in blind faith is not for wimps,” the protagonist concludes.

About the Author: Jennifer Bleakley has worked as a child and family grief counselor. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in counseling. She leads a women’s Bible study in her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina.

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