Thursday, May 3, 2018

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

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy. Thank you.

I recently read Joey: How a Blind Rescue Horse Helped Others Learn to See by Jennifer Marshal Bleakley published by Tyndale Momentum – the nonfiction imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. At the heart of the novel is a horse named Joey who was "a former prizewinning jumper who had been abandoned, neglected, and malnourished to the point of blindness" and Hope Reins – "a ranch dedicated to helping hurting kids who had been abused, emotionally wounded, or unwanted." 

Joey opens with the finding of an Appaloosa at an abandoned horse farm where there were several deceased horses. It continues with the story of Kim Tschirret, the retrieval of Joey and Speckles for Hope Reins, and a brief background history of Hope Reins. From an early accident with the blind horse to his finding a friend in his paddock mate, Speckles, the story of Joey is a riveting one. 

Besides telling the story of Kim – the owner of Hope Reins – and Joey, the book also details the experiences of several of the volunteers at the ranch. You will read about Lauren, her life of chronic pain, and how she teaches Speckles to share and eventually care for Joey. You will also read about Sarah and her own journey to find healing. 

What Stands Out 

There are two parts that stand out the most to me: the description of the fundraising event and the events surrounding Spirit.

Christmas Fundraising Event 

At the first Christmas Fundraising event, Kim speaks about the mission of Hope Reins - "to pair a horse with a hurting child, to help open that child's heart." Furthermore, "Hope Reins is based upon 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, which explains that God comforts us in our time of need, so that we can comfort others in their time of need" (141). I love the idea that the ranch is focused upon the idea that God is the "Father of mercies...who comforts us in all our affliction" (2 Corinthians 1:3). What an uplifting message!


While trying to find Joey a companion, Kim is filled with "What-Ifs" in her mind. This is a great reminder that even people who succeed at doing great things – like the founding of Hope Reins and the rescuing of both horses and children in need – can sometimes let doubt get the better of them. Yet we are reminded that with faith we will be able to erase those doubts.

Reading the Book 

I enjoyed Joey so much that if I had no other commitments I would have gladly sat and read the entire book in one or two sittings. It was that good! I wanted to know if Hope Reins would succeed. What would happen to Speckles and Joey? Would Aly trust others and find her voice? 

The book ends with several pages of black and white photographs from Hope Reins and 16 Group Discussion Questions. One of the questions discusses the catalyst for Kim in starting Hope Reins: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Personally, I love the connection emphasized between the events of the story, how the individuals sought encouragement, and the Bible. It makes the book more than just a story about a rescue horse and a rescue ranch. It brings meaning to the lives of the individuals and the horses they are entrusted with by God. 

I also liked the fact that Bleakley did not overwhelm her readers with detailed horse-related or rescue-related vocabulary. One who has the slightest experiences with horses and the world in which they live, could easily understand when Sarah was working with Aly as they took care of Joey in a session. For example, after Sarah asks Aly if she wants to learn how to brush Joey, the paragraph reads: 

"Aly's bobbing ponytail spoke volumes. Sarah led the girl to the tack shed, where they collected supplies – a halter and lead line, a grooming bucket full of brushes, and a hoof pick. Then they walked back to Joey's paddock." (106) 

I think that most people who have any interest in animals or horses would be familiar with these terms. And as Sarah led Aly through the grooming of Joey, the reader also receives a brief lesson in what the grooming brushes are and what they are used for in the daily care of the horses.

Who Might Like Joey

I recommend this book for individuals who are interested in horses, rescues, animal therapy, and those who enjoy seeing how God helps us help others. Even though the book deals with some weighty topics like abuse of animals and people, I think older, mature teens might really get something out of reading the book as well. 

To learn more about the publishing house, author, ranch, and book, please visit the following: 

Release Date: May 8, 2018

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  1. This sounds like a wonderful book! Thank you for your review and thank you for sharing it this week on our Encouraging Hearts & Home Blog hop. I look forward to sharing it with my children.

    1. Thank you! I was happy to share it because I felt it has a great message for families - so much hope for the horses and kids.