Joey by Jennifer Marshall Bleakley

Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: abuse, tragic childhood, death.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars


This book came into my life through a woman who has been like another grandmother to me. Donna is my grandmother’s best friend, and without fail, Donna sends me cards, letters, and little things that make her think of me. She was sending me book mail before book mail was even on my radar. So, last summer, Donna sent me a copy of this book, Joey. She knows I’m a reader and a horse girl, and she said she really enjoyed it and thought I would too. Well, it took me some time to get to reading the novel, but I cannot wait to write Donna and tell her that it is adorable and that I am so happy she thought to share this book with me, so that I could share it with all of you!

Written memoir-style, Bleakley recounts the true story of Joey, a blind Appaloosa horse that was rescued by Kim Tschirret, owner of Hope Reins. Kim started a fledgeling equine therapeutic center for both rescue horses and children in need of alternative therapy- hippotherapy, with the goal that the therapy sessions would be free of charge. Repeating the mantra, “God will provide”, Kim decided to go ahead with these plans despite the financial risk. She brought home Joey, and his companion Speckles, two neglected Appaloosas who would need special care. However, these two horses seemed to be favorites with the children, who offered many special miracle moments to difficult cases. Joey, in particular, had quite the effect on all those who came into his life, including those who decided to donate generously to the facility.

I will admit, I did end up listening to the audiobook of this novel to help get it off the TBR pile, but the audio still  had me tearing up in the car. It’s such a sweet story, and though maybe cheesy at times, I still found myself relating to the wonder that is the horse/human bond. It’s an amazing thing to learn to communicate with such a big, strong, independent animal, and even more amazing to witness the silent communication between a bonded pair. Horses base their communication on body language, so when they seem to be intuitively reading our minds, they are noticing the most subtle movements of our body language. Throughout Joey, Bleakley beautifully communicated the special feeling that comes with getting bit by the horse bug.img_3906

As I said, this book is based on the true story of Horse Reins, so I highly encourage you to check out their website here, give Joey a read (or listen), and if you can, make a donation to help these kids and their wonderful equine councilors.

I also want to thank my friend Amber from The Pedestrian Equestrian for helping me with this photo shoot, as well at the staff at the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center and their adorable equine models!

TL/DR: Joey by Jennifer Marshall Bleakley is a memoir style novel about a dedicated woman who opens up an equine therapy center, whose star therapist is a horse named Joey.

Read it? Yes, especially for horse lovers.

Recommend it? Yes, and for all ages. This book is so wholesome!

Buy it? I would say absolutely as a horse lover or animal person. Otherwise, you could listen to the audio or borrow a copy and then decide. Personally, I’m glad it’s part of my book collection.

If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads:

  • The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts
  • Ruffian: Burning from the Start by Jane Schwartz



Categories: Animals, Book Review, Nonfiction

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

4 replies


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