Almost ten years ago, I wrote this letter to our friends at Spirit Reins Ranch. Since then, I’ve referred people there for help, and for Hope. They do great work. They save lives. They make a huge difference to kids and their parents. Making a difference in the lives of young people who have been burdened by trauma, or just can’t make their way, is good for all of us. My ten year old son, getting the amazing hug from Hope, is in college now. His brother is now in high school. I am certainly blessed beyond measure. I took great comfort in knowing that Spirit Reins Ranch was helping kids, every bit as precious in this world as my own, find Hope and find their way back to life. I wanted to share this letter once again because it reminds me of what is still true today. These people, dogs, and horses save lives. They save families. They’re making this world a better place for us all. Hope, she’s more than just a horse. She’s hope.

Dear Spirit Reins,


Hope’s boyfriend Tiny, and his wee friend

When I was asked by a friend to come take some photos of the horses at Spirit Reins Ranch, I agreed. She explained that the horses were used for therapy for at-risk kids and that they wanted some photos to use for their annual bike ride to raise money. My son and I got up early one Sunday morning and made the short drive out to Liberty Hill with our friend and Spirit Reins volunteer. We had no idea what to expect.

We were greeted by a few volunteers and some rescued dogs of various and sundry sizes. We headed to the small pasture of Hope and Tiny. As we approached, Hope raised her head and limped in our direction. For a moment, I was taken aback, by what I saw; a scrawny, scarred, white horse with a malformed front leg. Wow, I thought, what’s the best angle? Do I shoot to minimize the deformation, or shoot it like it is? As we were primping and combing her mane, I watched my beautiful, outgoing, athletic, well-adjusted 10 year old son as he brushed her. I wondered what he was thinking. He soon began to talk to her and she kept raising her front leg, the one that was damaged and curved at an unnatural angle. My instinct was to tell him to watch her foot that she might accidentally step on him or kick his shins with her hoof. But instead, I just watched. Unlike my horses growing up, her movement was very slow and unbelievably gentle. She just raised her leg up to brady and hopeabout his waist. I told him to hold her leg and he grabbed it with both hands and stood close to her chest. She then tucked her head around him and hugged him tight. There is no other way to describe it. She leaned on him with her bad leg, and tucked her chin down around him and absolutely hugged him. When I got over my amazement and swallowed the lump in my throat, I remembered the camera in my hands and snapped some shots. Suddenly it was not difficult to imagine big white wings growing out of her back. She was not perfect. She was not ashamed. She was Hope, and she was beautiful.

She has a purpose. She takes kids of all shapes and sizes and imperfections and she does something magical, something almost angelic. My son and I saw it and felt it as we met each horse. They all had a gift and a place there. The horses and the people and the dogs of Spirit Reins ranch touched us that day. We still talk about them all, but especially Hope.

Please accept this gift from my family to yours, for Hope. Not just the horse, but the hope that you all give every day to kids without much of it.

We’ll be back in the spring to take photos of the horses again in their sleek summer coats, and this time, the whole family wants to come. We all want Hope hugs!

Very Sincerely Yours,


Here’s an absolutely beautiful video done by Kleenex about Spirit Reins. It’s amazing how far word of mouth, and sharing, can take a message.

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