Many struggling families in Wake County and surrounding areas look for a place like Hope Reins. A quiet respite in the face of a chaotic world – where a one-on-one relationship is valued and connecting with a magnificent horse – one of our ‘angels in horsehair’ – serves to comfort the pain and sorrow that is all too common in a hurting kid’s day-to-day life.
In Wake County Alone:
reported cases of child abuse in 2013.
kids in foster care in 2013.
children ages 10-19 committed suicide in North Carolina (2004-2008).
divorces and annulments filed in Wake County in 2010.
When an injury cost Joey—a prize-winning Appaloosa—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 were convinced they could reach kids with love and hope and show them that we are never forgotten by God. Jennifer Bleakley, a Hope Reins volunteer and aspiring author, fell in love with Joey and his courageous journey from darkness to light. Her experiences with Joey and the work at Hope Reins inspired her to write Joey: How a Blind Rescue Horse Helped Others Learn to See. After five years, she completed the work, and it took on a life of its own. To everyone's surprise, Tyndale Momentum—one of the largest Christian book publishers—jumped onboard to publish the work. The book was released on May 8th 2018, and Joey helped bring Hope Reins and its ministry of hope and healing to a national audience. God inspired the work of Hope Reins through the book Hope Rising, and now he has grown our ministry through a book of our own.
The success of Hope Reins as a ministry is rooted in the deep, significant relationships found here. Kids learn to trust by bonding with session leaders. Volunteers rely on team members to speak courage into their lives when things get tough. And, then there’s the extraordinary connection between Hope Reins’ trainers and our horses. The special friendship forged between Anne Sanders and Cadence, a beautiful, 38-year-old Morgan horse with big brown eyes, exemplifies the kind of love we all seek: one that is steeped in kindness, patience, and compassion. Cadence – or Cadie as she’s affectionately called – joined the herd seven years ago from the US Equine Rescue League severely underweight and suffering from a debilitating hoof condition called laminitis. “You can compare the level of pain to gout in humans,” says Elizabeth Love Kennon, Hope Reins Equine Manager. “The condition carries with it a level of agony we can’t imagine.” Yet, Cadie never folded. Even when she couldn’t move or lower her head, volunteers would cradle her feed bucket in their arms, so she could eat. Cadence was the stoic, alpha mare beloved by Hope Reins’ herd of ponies despite being cordoned off in a separate paddock because of food requirements. When Dru and Anne Sanders began volunteering together at the ranch, they noticed the ailing mare standing quietly, alone and invisible to most visitors. “She just looked so sad and depressed,” says Anne. “I started sitting with her for hours at a time - grooming, stroking and just loving her.” As the hours turned into months, the married duo became fixtures at Hope Reins with Anne taking on the role as Cadence’s trainer. Plunging winter temperatures, torrential downpours, or hot sweltering days never deterred the couple - especially Anne, a retired teacher who rode horses as a child and always longed for more. “I was drawn to Cadie because she needed me. She needed someone to love and care for her.” Remarkably, as their relationship deepened so did Cadence’s resolve to heal. “When she’s around Anne, her entire demeanor soars,” says Kennon. On one particularly memorable day, Anne took Cadie off her lead line in the arena and dozens of bystanders marveled while watching the mare leap and bound through the air. “It was her Indian summer where she was amazingly free of pain,” says Kennon. Anne likens the mare’s transformation to a butterfly relinquishing its cocoon. “We healed together.” For a horse that is 38 years old, like Cadie, the approximate equivalent human age would be 105 years. And, unlike most horses with chronic laminitis, she will leave this earth not because of her illness but simply because of old age. “She’s taught me so much,” says Anne. “God used her to heal deep and long forgotten, broken places in me.” Cadence was lovingly laid to rest on June 4, 2018, with Anne and Dru by her side.
Would you consider becoming a monthly horse sponsor, making a one-time donation, or joining our mailing list and donating your time toward our ministry helping hurting kids find true hope and real healing?