Sunday, March 2, 2008

Smarty Sunday: Bridge Called Hope


This week I'd like to recommend a book that will especially touch the hearts of people who love children and animals. Bridge Called Hope is a collection of true stories about Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch. The couple who owns this special ranch do two things to make the world a better place. First of all, they adopt horses who are unwanted or who have been abused and neglected. They have seen many miracles happen as they have taken horses who were so badly injured by their human owners that they weren't expected to live, nursed them to health, and given them a wonderful home on the ranch.
Second of all, they share the love of these horses with children, especially at-risk children. Children with special needs, children who have been abused, children in foster care, children with serious illnesses, and any child who is just in need of a little extra love and attention, are welcome at the ranch. Kids from a near by juvenile detention center even earn trips to the ranch to volunteer and work with the horses.
Kids who are hurting may have trouble trusting new adults, and the world in general. But a lot of times, when they see these horses who have also been hurt, a special connection is made. Children drop their protective barriers as they hug the horses and help to care for them. And the horses, even those who have been badly abused, are surprisingly patient and gentle with the children.
There is one story where a boy from the juvenile detention center came to the ranch for the first time, having earned the privilege of volunteering. Kim, the woman who owns the ranch, introduced the boy to a new young horse who had been horribly, horribly neglected... so badly that she was in a special field apart from the other horses, so as not to frighten visitors with her appearance.
The shy horse walked up to the boy and "chose" him, putting her nose to his chest and allowing him to pet her. The connection was made instantly, as the deeply troubled boy relaxed and spent the rest of his day grooming and loving the horse.
Back at the juvenile detention center, the boy later sought out one of his counselors for a talk. He began to cry and said, "This was the first time in my life that I realized I could be loved! If that horse loves me, and the people on the ranch love me, maybe I really am worth something."
It may sound like a Lifetime Original story, but its true... that horse, who was so scarred and damaged on the outside, did something very special for a boy who was scared and damaged on the inside.
I loved this book, and I'm going to make the Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch one of the future children's organizations we donate to through this blog!
I hope you'll read this book!

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