Published by Revell on October 19, 2021
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Illness and trauma touch us all. Into the uncertainty and pain trots a herd of tiny horses, bringing a smile, a laugh, a chance to heal.
Mini Horse, Mighty Hope introduces you to Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses, one of the largest equine therapy programs in the world. You'll experience moments of comfort, hope, healing, and even miracles as you follow these spirited mini horses on visits to children's and veterans' hospitals, victims of natural disasters, survivors of and first responders to mass shootings, and more. Along the way, you'll also get to know the founder of Gentle Carousel as she shares how the love of these marvelous little creatures has helped her navigate her own struggles and challenges.
Perfect for animal lovers, people who enjoy true stories of healing, and anyone who has undergone trials and longs for hope.
I am a horse person. Have been since I sat on a horse as a little girl. My mother recently found a photo of two- or three-year-old me on a pony. There is also a picture from Estes Park, Colorado of me grinning as my father led a little roan pony named Strawberry. You can probably guess what color she was: red—or chestnut, in horse-person terms. I have experienced firsthand the therapeutic nature of a horse. My mare, Honey, can calm me when nothing else can. When I found Mini Horse, Mighty Hope by Debbie Garcia-Bengochea and Peggy Frezon, I knew I had to read it.
“Read this book slowly,” I said. I wanted to absorb it one chapter at a time, relishing in the stories about Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses. Let me start this by saying I utterly failed at that. Mini Horse, Mighty Hope made me so happy that I could not stop reading it. I aimed to read one chapter then would discover I had read for an hour. It is such a sweet book, all about the power of little ponies with big hearts. About the willingness and selflessness of volunteers, about laughter and healing. About the emotional and mental hardships faced not only by those affected by illness or disaster. Mini Horse, Mighty Hope also shines a light on the intense emotions precariously balanced on the shoulders of responders, counselors, doctors, and parents.
My review of Mini Horse, Mighty Hope by Debbie Garcia-Bengochea and Peggy Frezon may be biased, as I am an equestrian. Some of my best memories involve equines—and those memories have often come in very hard periods of my life. People have heard of therapy dogs, visiting hospitals. During high-stress situations at my office, the animal rescue across the street will sometimes bring puppies. Suddenly, everything improves with tiny paws and rough tongues. Horses do not have paws. They don’t lick. But they have manes and tails you can brush. Muzzles you can pet. Necks you can hug.
Mini Horse, Mighty Hope discusses challenging and heartbreaking events like school shootings, tornadoes, and hurricanes. But in each situation, peace exists. Joy exists. Hope exists, just as the book’s title suggests. All it takes is an animal—a selfless, simple being—to serve as a reminder. Any animal will probably do. But there is something about a horse, especially a miniature one! Horses scare a lot of people. Their size and physical power intimidate. But minis…the response I hear to meeting one for the first time is “Awwww!” And tiny horses in costumes?! ADORABLE.
Non-horse people may not understand just how hard it is to do certain things with horses. While many are curious, they are also fearful animals. In a “flight or fight” scenario, they respond with flight. On her birthday, I tried to put a party hat with fringe on my horse’s head. Her reaction: “HECK NO.” Snorting, flinging her head back, moving backward. She’s calm in new places but still uncertain, constantly checking in with me for assurance. The fact that Gentle Carousel’s horses will wear full costumes and walk inside buildings? They’ll ride elevators? And they’ll stand quietly in front of big groups of people? Astounding.
I loved every minute I spent in this book. It made me think. It made me laugh and grin just as I did on Strawberry when I was a child. Mini Horse, Mighty Hope is about little horses—and their people—with a big message and big impact. The simply written book may not have the same effect on everyone as it had on me as a horse person…but my heart is so incredibly happy. Yours will be, too.