Englewood, Florida is a magical place where people pay a lot of money to visit. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live here can’t get enough of the Salt Life. Beautiful beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, boating on Lemon Bay, waterfront dining, kayaking, fishing, diving, and countless golf courses are all part of our everyday life.
But there’s a well-kept secret. Another side of Englewood that I just discovered, and I…am…in…love!
Meet Hope, a gorgeous little miniature horse. With a purpose. Hope is a Therapy Horse. She brings joy to people and places where smiles are a precious commodity.
Meet Kathy Genth, Hope’s human mom who has a passion for horses and a passion for people; a combination that inspired Kathy to bring a therapy horse into her fold. She shares Hope with hospice centers, children with Down syndrome, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, VA hospitals, the list is long.
Kathy was blessed with her first pony when she was 4, and her love affair with horses began. Fast forward to 26 years ago. She boarded her horse at a little place in Englewood with 4 stables. Today she owns that “little place” and has built it into a 14 acre “Horse Spa” where her 15 horses thrive, along with the 12 that board there. Branded Heart Stables is conveniently located adjacent to a state park with miles of trails. Many services are available, including boarding, trail rides, riding lessons, and so much more.
There is also a unique opportunity for children to learn responsibility. Kids ride the horses, wash, brush, clean their hooves, and as Kathy says “give them hugs and kisses.” I had the privilege of seeing this first hand. I met lovely Emma, a cute little sassy cowgirl dressed in boots and shorts. She spends a lot of time at Branded Heart and clearly knows her way around those horses. The love she has for these horses is undeniable.
When I arrived at Branded Heart Stables Kathy immediately steered me to Hope’s house and I met the little darlin’. She is the definition of cute from her beaded braids to her beautiful multi-color eyes. Kathy put her on a “leash” and the cuteness factor increased even more as she pranced across the yard. (Hope that is!) I then met some of Hope’s magnificent equine counterparts, and Shameless shamelessly photo-bombed my photo-shoot with Hope.
Branded Heart is impressive, and Kathy’s desire to help people is refreshing. Her enthusiasm is contagious and when you talk to her about horses her eyes sparkle and you can feel her excitement. “I love horses and I love helping people. For that second, minute, 5 minutes that people are with Hope, they aren’t thinking about the illness, the pain, the sadness. They’re smiling, maybe for the first time in a long time. That’s a gift.” As for her services at Branded Heart Stables: “There’s something about a horse. I have the opportunity to share my love for them and educate people on how incredible they are.”
Hope and other horses are also available for fundraising events, birthday parties, celebrations, you name it! Call 941-47H-ORSE, for more information.
Also, sharing Hope with those in need of a smile is expensive, so please consider donating to Horses Helping Hearts, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, to help Kathy cover her costs of sharing Hope.
Something about this story touches my heart, and after meeting Hope, Nirobi, Shameless, Hitter, Kohana, Russia, Kathy, and Emma, Englewood seems a little more special. I hope you feel the same way.
Please call 941-47H-ORSE to make a donation or schedule an event.