Horse ministry builds bonds

By Linda Salisbury, Correspondent

Scooter’s chestnut coat glistened in the morning sun as he stood, without a bridle or any restraint, and watched Katy Pistole.
Scooter moved in any direction Pistole indicated, including spinning, trotting around her a number of times, and then climbing on a wooden box in the center of the ring on the Louisa farm where the horses are boarded.

Their communication and bond are especially remarkable given his background. Pistole rescued him more than 17 years ago when he was three and had been beaten by his owner who didn’t understand horses. “Scooter had a lot of fear when I bought him,” she said.

Pistole uses a relationship-building method of communication called natural horsemanship. The results are amazing to watch.
This relationship with Scooter and her other horses is shared through Pistole’s ministry, Beautiful Brokenness, which resonates with the many people she has counseled through the years. She demonstrated the trusting relationship with Scooter and said there is so much trust between them that they could walk into the woods together like friends without him needing a halter.

Pistole’s horses come when she calls their name – not for a reward, such as a carrot, but to just be with her. It’s a bond based on personal interaction.

She shares her faith and bond with horses in her eight books. She wrote her first book at age four and has had six published for kids since 2003 in the Sonrise Farm Series. Her most recent book is Jubilee: A Love Story, which she wrote for an older audience.

She serves as the executive director of Beautiful Brokenness, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and provides counseling and Bible study classes online and in person. She described Beautiful Brokenness as “a horse-themed discipleship ministry that helps God’s children see who and whose they are.”

Her experiences with horses provide metaphors for healing and developing a personal relationship with God, she said.

“Jesus has allowed horses to help me understand his amazing love and passion for me and all his kids. He has used horses to help me experience the heart of the shepherd,” Pistole said.

Her father, Sam Thomsen, was named the first American ambassador to the Marshall Islands from 1987-90. In his career working for the State Department, he and the family lived overseas for most of Pistole’s life. She was born in Alexandria, but the family moved to Vietnam in 1963 when she was 6 weeks old. They evacuated in 1965 when the violence escalated. Her father stayed behind and was in the American Embassy in Saigon when it was blown up during an attack. He was initially feared dead, but fortunately survived.

Pistole said she had always loved horses.

With occasional stays in the United States, the family then lived in Laos, Botswana and Nigeria. When Pistole was 12 and in Botswana, she received her first horse, Black Jack, and had an experience that changed the course of her life.

Pistole had been part of a church-going family but did not understand God’s desire for relationship, she said. That changed when Black Jack came down with a fatal disease. Her parents and their friends offered to pray for the horse’s recovery. When Pistole went to check on him the next day, he was fully cured.

That was a life-altering event, she said, to have such a personal experience with God. “I knew then that there was a God. He was good, powerful and I’ve belonged to him ever since,” she said. “I started enjoying church.”

Beautiful Brokenness is the story of rescue, redemption and reconciliation for both animals and people. It’s a story of working with both people and horses.

To learn more visit or contact Pistole at

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