Rootbeer & Edward with their “Mom”

Mini Horses, Mighty Hearts | The Book

The Magic of Rootbeer & Edward


The idea for Mini Horses, Mighty Hearts grew as author Rene Townsend got to know her two new partners. She saw “magic” whenever someone saw or touched the little horses. Faces changed from no expression or sadness to the hint of a smile, often blossoming into a big smile, and sometimes laughter. Did the minis have a message to share with others? This notion led Rene to a conversation with writing coach, Candace Conradi. “Is this a crazy idea?” Rene asked. With a sparkle in her eyes, Candace answered, “No, go for it!”

Encouraging a playful approach, Candace urged Rene to start. With a rough draft in hand, Rene asked two young readers, ages seven and nine, if they would read it and offer suggestions. Their valuable feedback led to many changes, including giving Edward a voice along with Rootbeer’s, the story’s narrator. That began a dialog between the two mini horses.

As with all books, there were drafts after drafts, read by friends and fellow writers. Rene started a search for an illustrator who could capture the minis’ spirit, one that showed their kind hearts and playful natures. A friend led her to artist Gina Dodge. Rene asked Gina to sketch Rootbeer from a photograph. The minute she saw the sketch, Rene knew she had her artist. Gina’s talent caught the minis’ magic of making connections and creating joy.

All the pieces came together with the technical and artistic skills of Olga Singer, who laid out the book and created the website.

Rene and Gina hope you find Rootbeer and Edward’s journey instructive, inspiring and full of fun—and yes, magic.

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Rene Townsend | author

Finally, the Horses of her Dreams

Rene Townsend

Rene Townsend

A life-long educator, Rene Townsend always wanted a horse. Finally, she got one, then another, then two more! Miniature horses, Rootbeer & Edward, brought Rene’s herd to four and are a constant source of learning and joy.

Oz, a gorgeous giant Dutch Warmblood was first, followed by Kiefer, a handsome quarter horse. When Rootbeer & Edward’s human partner moved away and couldn’t take them with her, Rene decided she’d be their new human. Little did she know the wonderful changes they’d bring to her life. Watching the ways Rootbeer & Edward’s simple presence brought happiness and smiles to everyone they met, Rene believed they should bring their special qualities to others, particularly those experiencing challenges.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Pet Encounter Therapy (PET) program offered the perfect vehicle. After helping the minis learn new behaviors, Rene thought they were ready to take the test to join the program. They passed with flying colors! So began another journey, combining play and service to others. The minis visit people in a variety of facilities: children who have been removed from homes for abuse or neglect; those requiring mental health treatment; unique high schools with alternative programs or that serve foster teens; veterans overcoming PTSD or addictions; and senior citizens receiving assisted living and memory care. Residents and participants along with the staff are delighted at meeting and touching Rootbeer & Edward. When the minis leave, everyone smiles, waves and says, “Please come back soon!”  

As the pattern repeated in each visit, Rene felt compelled to write about their experiences. She believed readers young and old would love their journey and see how these mini horses with mighty hearts could create great joy.

Rene had co-authored four professional books during her career as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools, a partner in a superintendent search firm, a university lecturer, and an educational consultant for a non-profit program throughout Central America. Writing this book was an amazing new journey for her.

Rene’s passion for teaching and learning unites with her commitment and love of all creatures in Mini Horses, Mighty Hearts. She hopes you’ll learn—and smile—reading Rootbeer & Edward’s amazing journey that continues on and on.


Gina Dodge | Artist

"I Want to Be an Artist or a Singer!"

Gina Dodge is a maker of all sorts. At a young age she proclaimed, "I want to be an artist or a singer."  Art currently dominates her life. Her medium of choice usually falls into the realm of painting, but she is infatuated with creating anything she can get her hands on. She enjoys expressing her keen sense of humor through her work and inspiring others just by being herself. To learn more about Gina visit her website:

Rootbeer & Edward. Illustrated by Gina Dodge.

Rootbeer & Edward. Illustrated by Gina Dodge.