Joey: How a Blind Rescue Horse Helped Others Learn to See

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by Jennifer Marshall Bleakley

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ISBN-13: 9781496421753
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 05/08/2018
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 43,787
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

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CHAPTER 1

Kim Tschirret had no idea if she was doing the right thing. She anxiously balled her hands into fists in her jacket pockets and chewed her bottom lip as she waited in the barn.

"I'm so nervous," she whispered to her friend Barb Foulkrod, who had generously agreed to make the early morning drive from North Carolina to Virginia to pick up the horse Kim couldn't stop talking about. When they arrived, Tom Comer, the owner of the sprawling Virginia farm, greeted them warmly. Tom had his own horses but also fostered animals in need for the Equine Rescue League.

Barb laid a calming hand on Kim's back. She and Kim, both in their early forties and both wearing their blonde hair in low ponytails, could have easily passed for sisters.

"Trust your gut, Kim," she whispered back.

Trust. Barb made it sound so easy.

In theory, giving a permanent home to a recently rescued horse was a no-brainer. After all, the horse therapy ranch Kim owned in Raleigh needed more horses. But this horse? Maybe she had been too rash.

When the stable door opened, out stepped the most beautiful, albeit terribly thin, horse Kim had ever seen. Her breath caught as she inhaled. He was magnificent. Head held high. Creamy blond mane blowing in the gentle breeze. He looked positively regal.

"Oh my ..." she breathed out.

She had seen Appaloosas before. In fact, there was another one waiting impatiently in the borrowed horse trailer parked in the driveway. She had always loved the breed, with their richly spotted coats, freckled noses, and humanlike eyes, but she had never seen one like this before. A leopard Appaloosa, his white coat was dotted with hundreds of black ink spots. Smaller ones packed close together in the front, while larger ones spread out around the back. His markings reminded Kim of a Dalmatian's coat.

"Well, here he is," Tom announced. "Meet Joey."

Kim and Barb slowly approached, and Kim gently held her hand under the horse's nose in a nonthreatening greeting. "Hi, Joey. It's nice to meet you."

The Appaloosa breathed in her scent, then exhaled his greeting. His pink-and-black-freckled lips rooted around her closed fist, looking for hidden tidbits. Kim reached up to stroke his large cheek, her index finger stopping on several different-sized spots — a large one with a deep black center surrounded by a lighter ring, a medium-sized pear-shaped one, and finally several small ones that all blended together, turning a patch of his white coat gray.

"You are so beautiful," she said, moving closer.

Joey lowered his head, his cheek briefly touching hers. Kim drew in a quick breath. The movement, the moment, felt almost reverent. Woman and horse stood together for several heartbeats before Joey lowered his head further in search of a clump of grass.

"Tom, thank you so much for thinking of us," Kim said. "I still don't know if we're ready for this, but there's just something about this one — I can almost feel it."

Tom nodded. "Trust me, I get it. This boy is special, no doubt about it. But I have to confess, you were actually the seventh place I called that day. I reached out to every contact I have, but nobody wanted him. 'Too much work,' everyone said."

Kim felt a pang of fear. Was it going to be too much work? She had spoken several times to Tom since that first call, asking countless questions about Joey's care. But did she really have any idea what she was getting into? Probably not. Yet all she had to do was look at him. She couldn't imagine not taking him now.

"I honestly thought about just keeping him here," Tom continued. "I mean, we have the room and all." He motioned to the large stable and pastures behind him. "But after I saw him with my kids, saw what he was capable of, I knew that he belonged somewhere he could make a real difference. When my friend Eddie told me about your ranch, I knew that's where Joey needed to be."

Kim had been praying for weeks over this horse, asking God if she was doing the right thing for Hope Reins, the equine therapy ranch she had started just over a year ago. Now, in February 2011, they already had eight horses and three dozen volunteers, but when Tom called her out of the blue to tell her about Joey, she agreed to take him, sight unseen — something she'd never done before.

Each of the other horses at Hope Reins had been carefully chosen. Potential horses were observed and discussed by the staff for days — sometimes weeks or months — before they were selected as candidates for the herd, a unique group comprised of several horses who had been rescued from dire situations. Both from countless hours of research and from personal experience, Kim had found that when troubled or hurting children worked with horses who had also known pain or abuse, a deep and profound bond was often formed.

However, since the ranch was dedicated to pairing horses with hurting children, Kim had to be sure that a horse would work well with children before taking it on, and not every horse met that standard.

Over the past few months, Kim had passed on several horses because they did not have the temperament needed to work one-on-one with a child. If a horse was too aggressive, too fearful, or in need of more rehab than Kim and her helpers could handle, it didn't make the cut. It always broke her heart to say no to a horse, but she had to consider the welfare of the children. She couldn't afford to take a horse on a whim.

When Tom called and mentioned that his five-year-old was riding Joey bareback, Kim agreed to take him on the spot. Still, the Appaloosa had unique needs of his own that concerned the Hope Reins board of directors. Who could blame them? Kim thought. It wasn't every day you found yourself caring for a blind horse.

Blind.

The word had given Kim pause. Still, Joey needed a home, and for some reason she couldn't explain, she felt strongly that Hope Reins needed Joey. So, even though she had no idea how they would raise the three thousand dollars they would need every year for his basic care, she had readily agreed to take him.

Joey's head was lowered over a clump of grass, his lips nibbling individual blades. Barb and Kim listened to Tom recount how he became involved with Joey. "So you've had Joey for two months?" Barb asked.

"That's right. When he was first rescued, Joey needed a lot of rehab," Tom said, absently stroking Joey's back. "He initially stayed with a vet who runs a foster ranch. She was able to get a little bit of weight back on him. She's also the one who realized he's blind."

"Was the blindness due to malnourishment?"

Tom shrugged his shoulders. "Not really sure. Vet said that this breed is pretty susceptible to eye problems — cataracts and moon blindness and such. She sees evidence of both in Joey."

Kim searched Joey's almond-shaped eyes. He didn't look different from any other horse she had seen. His eyes weren't cloudy, nor were they fixed on some point beyond her. Instead, his eyes — his gaze — seemed to meet her own. But Kim also knew looks could be deceiving. Some scars go unseen.

"Last time we spoke, you mentioned that Joey had been a champion jumper. Can you tell me any more about that?" Kim asked, eager to learn as much as possible about her soon-to-be resident.

Joey took several steps forward to another patch of grass while Tom told Kim and Barb everything he knew about Joey's backstory. A friend had seen Joey compete years ago as a skilled jumper and well-decorated competitor in show hunting and dressage, and he knew Joey and his rider were on their way to qualifying for the Olympics. But then the horse suffered an injury that ended his competitive career. Eventually, Joey was sold to a mother and daughter who boarded him at the friend's stable.

Tom reached into his pocket and pulled out a carrot chunk. He clucked his tongue. Joey lifted his large head and gingerly took the offered treat.

"Anyway, I guess after a couple years, the woman got divorced and they had to sell Joey. Sometime after that he ended up with the horse hoarder. That's pretty much all I know."

Kim could have listened to Tom talk about Joey all day, but they still had a three-hour drive ahead of them and she wanted to unload the new horses before dark.

Kim wished she had more time to ask Tom about Joey's day-to-day care. He had given her several helpful tips on the phone; suggestions like pairing Joey with a companion horse as soon as possible, moving hay boxes and water troughs next to the fence so he wouldn't walk into them, and walking him along the perimeter of his pasture. But was it enough?

Kim took a deep breath. "You have no idea how grateful we are for all you have done. Please come visit us at Hope Reins sometime."

"I'd like that," Tom said, handing Joey's lead rope to Kim and giving Joey a final scratch between his ears. "He's all yours."

A moment of fear gripped Kim. A chant of what-ifs in her mind almost loosened her hand on the rope. As if sensing Kim's panic, Barb put her arm around her friend. Yes, Kim thought, I can do this.

As they approached the horse trailer, the sound of stomping hooves and a loud, agitated whinny from inside made them abruptly stop. Joey's ears flew forward as if to say, What's that?

"That's Speckles," Kim offered. "He's an Appaloosa, too, but a rather unhappy one at the moment, it seems. I'm sure he'll settle down once we get on our way." At least I hope so. The truth was that Speckles had been nothing but difficult since she and Barb picked him up. She hoped she wasn't wrong about that one.

Once Joey was secured in the trailer, while he and Speckles assessed one another, Tom patted Joey's rump.

"Go do lots of good, Joey."

Yes, Kim thought as the farm disappeared behind them, Joey has quite a story.

Thankfully, it hadn't ended too soon.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Joey"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Marshall Bleakley.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Joey: How a Blind Rescue Horse Helped Others Learn to See 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
DebReads More than 1 year ago
Peace, hope and healing were each waiting to be found at Hope Reins, a very special ranch. The horses, the volunteers and the visiting children all needed the treasures that could be found at this God ordained ranch. The volunteers cared for the horses, each other and the visiting children who had been through many tough challenges. The children made amazing connections with the horses which helped them to communicate and form healthy relationships with the volunteers. The horses, such awesome creatures, communicated on seemingly deep levels with the volunteers and children who needed them the most. Horses, much like humans, have various and unique personality traits and aspects to their overall character. When a horse or human is being difficult to deal with and teach, many assume they are untrainable. They may just be suffering. There is usually a reason for chronic difficult behavior, a good thing to remember when working with hurting children and needy animals. At Hope Reins, comfort and healing were experienced by the rescued horses, the hurting children and the volunteer staff. Many came to Hope Reins as damaged goods, broken and disabled. But, after experiencing mutual trust and unconditional love, they became brave and beautiful and touched each other's lives in profound ways. Joey was such a hit at the ranch and very popular. He was sweet, beautiful, brave, loving and gentle, and he was blind. There is beauty, even in brokenness. I loved this book, such a joy to read! I received this excellent book through a GoodReads giveaway.
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
This story will make you cry so have lots of Kleenex available. I loved how Kim came up with the idea to put rescue horses together with children with problems. All of the animals and people helped each other. This is a fantastic book. I received a copy of this book from Celebratelit for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
I could tell from the beginning that I was going to need tissues to read this book. I can't imagine what it would be like to find horses starving and begging for help. Some didn't survive and my emotions were felt deep in my heart. The author has written an honest heart wrenching story that will have readers crying throughout the story. I loved Penny and her determination to get help for the animals. Her anger burned the pages as I read how desperate she was to find out who was responsible for this horrendous sight. I hear on the news all the time about cruelty being done to animals and I want to run and save them all. Penny is a force to be reckoned with. Joey is one those animals that just tugs at your heart. I could see him gazing into Kim's eyes as she decides whether he will fit at Hope Reins. After looking at Joey how could anyone walk away from him? Although Joey is blind, Kim knows he needs to be at Hope Reins. I loved when it was said in the book, "Some scars go unseen." The emotional scars we have no one can see, but they are there. I can't imagine what Joey went through before he was rescued. I admire the work being done at Hope Reins. It has changed many lives and given new hope to children who felt lost and unwanted. Pairing an emotionally scarred child with a horse is very therapeutic. The faith that Kim and her husband have for Hope Reins is refreshing. Their belief that God would supply their needs is so powerful. One of the things I really liked about the book was all the information about the different types of horses there are and how much work it takes to take care of them. The work these horses did to reach the hurting children overwhelm me. I think one reason this book touched me so much was because of a special animal my brother adopted. This lonely looking dog was up against the cage in a shelter. She was looking sad and hopeless. People passed her up because to them she was damaged. She had one eye missing and people were looking for the perfect dog. My brother couldn't walk away from her and adopted her. The shelter named her Faith and she has given my brother faith to fight for his health. The dog is his constant companion and they have gained trust from each other. Just like Joey, Faith showed us that she may have emotional scars but she has a big heart. As I end my review my tears stream down my face. I was a little girl locked in a shell. I cried out to God many times when I was scared and needed rescued. I never felt that He heard me as I suffered through a violent childhood. What I did learn from this book was I may have deep emotional scars ,but God felt every pain I felt. He led me to a man who would become my husband. My husband shows me unconditional love every day. He didn't toss me away like the horses had before being rescued. God gave me a man who gives me emotional support and takes my hand when I hurt. To all the hurting people I say, never give up. You are valuable and God is waiting to take you in His arms. Joey's story is a story of pain, sorrow, tears but most of all hope. I pray that someday we will all find a "Joey" to heal us. "God takes or messes-our heaps of ashes-and turns them into something more beautiful than we could ever imagine." "At Hope Reins, the horses are the counselors, not the humans."
Carpe_Diem More than 1 year ago
Joey is a tender, touching and sweet story sure to warm the heart and perhaps prompt more than one tear from tenderhearted readers. This well written novel holds the reader comfortably as the story unfolds in a way that is certain to leave a positive impression in several ways. Here is a true account of the many people and horses who have found purpose and healing as they join together in a very special place called Hope Reins. A true testament to the power of faith, hope and unconditional love. A highly readable story that will remain with me for a long time to come; and which has inspired me to seek to know more about this amazing ministry known as Hope Reins. Some quotes that speak to the power of this story: In describing the experiences of everyone involved with Hope Reins: “The peace. The hope. The healing. Beauty in brokenness, purpose in pain, light in darkness. God used a blind horse to teach us what it means to walk by faith.” Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book. A favorable review was not required, no compensation was received, and all views expressed are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The cover caught my attention, the synopsis captured my heart. As an animal lover, I enjoy reading such heart-wrenching stories where the animal triumphs. It's amazing to me that some animals can endure such terrible abuse or neglect and yet it doesn't seem to faze their spirit. I know this isn't always the case, but for Joey, he's a gentle soul. But how to manage a blind horse? Sharing their trial and error, Jennifer Bleakley leads us from the very beginning and how it took an entire team effort to come up with various solutions (both with the paddock and with Speckles) in order to make it a safe home for Joey. Joey focuses not only the horse that was rescued from near death but also the ranch that serves kids who are hurting. Hope Reins may have horse trainers, but it's the horses themselves that provide the real therapy. Kids that visit can confide in them, knowing their secrets will be well-kept. A good listener is sometimes all a person needs in order to vent their frustrations, worries or hurts. And that's exactly what these horses are: good listeners.  The book offers pictures of Joey, as well as some artwork. But it doesn't just focus on him. It focuses on others, like Speckles, another neglected horse that initially appeared as if the bully and very stubborn only to find a lot of it had to do with that past neglect and present pain. This is a beautiful story of how broken people (and animals) can come together to not only aid in healing others while being healed themselves. I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest opinion. I'm so glad I requested this book. It was a good read and I can't wait to share it with someone I know who's a horse lover. She's sure to enjoy this book as much as I have. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The cover caught my attention, the synopsis captured my heart. As an animal lover, I enjoy reading such heart-wrenching stories where the animal triumphs. It's amazing to me that some animals can endure such terrible abuse or neglect and yet it doesn't seem to faze their spirit. I know this isn't always the case, but for Joey, he's a gentle soul. But how to manage a blind horse? Sharing their trial and error, Jennifer Bleakley leads us from the very beginning and how it took an entire team effort to come up with various solutions (both with the paddock and with Speckles) in order to make it a safe home for Joey. Joey focuses not only the horse that was rescued from near death but also the ranch that serves kids who are hurting. Hope Reins may have horse trainers, but it's the horses themselves that provide the real therapy. Kids that visit can confide in them, knowing their secrets will be well-kept. A good listener is sometimes all a person needs in order to vent their frustrations, worries or hurts. And that's exactly what these horses are: good listeners.  The book offers pictures of Joey, as well as some artwork. But it doesn't just focus on him. It focuses on others, like Speckles, another neglected horse that initially appeared as if the bully and very stubborn only to find a lot of it had to do with that past neglect and present pain. This is a beautiful story of how broken people (and animals) can come together to not only aid in healing others while being healed themselves. I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest opinion. I'm so glad I requested this book. It was a good read and I can't wait to share it with someone I know who's a horse lover. She's sure to enjoy this book as much as I have. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
[I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.] It's difficult for me to review this book objectively, for a few reasons. 1) It's nonfiction, and I always feel a little bad about judging narratives of things that actually happened, because it feels like I'm blaming the people involved for not having different lives. 2) I lose most of my objectivity when it comes to stories that deal with *SEMI-SPOILERS* animal euthanasia *END OF SPOILERS* because it's far too sensitive a topic for me, for various reasons. 3) Again, since it is a true story, it's difficult to balance appreciation for the themes and events with which it deals with quibbles about writing style, etc. So, long story short . . . I don't know how to rate this book. I appreciate the author's faith, and I got through the book relatively quickly, but to be honest, it didn't do much of anything for me. There were a few good parts that did stand out (like the part when Kim was talking to Sarah about Sarah's past in Ch. 20), but overall, I didn't really like it. And . . . I don't really know what else to say? There wasn't really anything bad about this book, except that the writing could be a little stronger. But even then, I don't know exactly what I would change about the writing -- perhaps just make it less . . . formulaic, maybe? I don't know what the word I'm searching for is. All I know is the writing didn't do it for me. Again, all in all, not a bad book, just not a stellar book either. I did like how they included pictures and sketches of Joey at the end of the book, though! :)
LisaPClement More than 1 year ago
Such a beautiful story of tragedy and redemption. Though life is hard and hurts come to us there is always someone willing to help those in need of healing and that is what Hope Reins is all about. Hope Reins is a place of second chances. It is where Joey found life again just as the children who come there find Hope after abuse. It is a place where horses are rescued and loved and children along with adults find healing. Such an easy to read, heart moving, hope filled book teaching spiritual lessons as well as life lessons about learning to trust again. The story of Joey is sad and happy so bring your Kleenex when you start the book. I was given an advanced copy by the publisher.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was such a well-written, engaging read! The book makes you want to meet the horses and draws you into lives of so many relatable people! One of my favorite reasons to read Christian fiction or nonfiction stories is how it inspires me or reminds me of a Scripture. By the second half, You keep in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3) was on repeat in my mind. I love the real aspect of grappling to go from worry and trust to trust and faith. I love seeing God in the intimate details that make up the complex big picture. So engaging, easily recommendable. Okay, no more words to say the simple, I love JOEY Thank you for sharing him with us!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is such a fantastic book!! I didn’t expect to cry while reading a book about a horse, but guess what? I cried more than once! Bleakley has done an amazing job of connecting the reader to Joey, a blind horse who was rescued from horrible conditions and given a second chance at life. Joey becomes an equine therapy horse at Hope Reigns and helps children (and adults) work through the traumas they have endured in their lives while bonding with Joey. Hope Reigns is an incredible ministry and I hope that this book will positively impact their funding, allowing more children to heal through equine therapy. This is an incredible story and everyone should read it - whether you are a “horse person” or not! I received a copy of the book from the publisher.
Ginger Hudock More than 1 year ago
Joey is an inspirational memoir about not only a horse, but also the many people who interacted with the riding therapy program at Hope Reigns in Raleigh, NC. We are introduced to Joey and many of the other horses at Hope Reigns. You learn about the birth and growth of this program and the many lives that it touches. Healing was (and is) being brought to the lives of the rescued horses there. But even more importantly, these horses are used to bring healing to hurting children. This book tells the stories of many of the children and volunteers whose lives have been improved by their work with horses at Hope Reigns. It also talks about the healing of many of the horses who are at Hope Reigns, not least of which is the blind appaloosa Joey. Many people in Aiken love horses and are familiar with the healing that horse therapy can bring through our programs at Saratoga War Horse and Great Oak Therapeutic Riding Center. We also have our own Equine Rescue of Aiken that saves horses. If you care about horses or you want a great true story about how animals can help people heal, please read Joey. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading Joey! I started to tear up in the first few pages and wondered if I'd make it through, but I just couldn't put it down. The stories about how a few people and a neglected, blind horse started changing lives was encouraging - we all really do have something to offer to the world, even when we've been broken and forgotten. It's a great read, perfect for a Saturday morning with a cup of tea.