My Life at Sweetbrier

A Life Changed by Horses

Children - Non-Fiction
142 Pages
Reviewed on 05/06/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is an award-winning author who has published five books:"My Life at Sweetbrier-A Life Changed by Horses, " "Charlie the Horse," "Charlene the Star, ""Charlene the Star and Hattie's Heroes," and" Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog."
My new book, "My Life at Sweetbrier-A Life Changed by Horses" details my childhood at Sweetbrier, the family riding school. Deanie's singular passion was to become a champion horseback rider, but doctors told her parents she would never walk. Her Dad refused to accept the diagnosis and he and Deanie were determined to prove the doctors wrong. What would happen next? Could a failed racehorse and a handicapped girl become a winning team?

    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

Perseverance. That’s what it takes. Facing all of life’s difficulties, all those hurdles thrown in our path, what we need is perseverance. We can’t give up. We have to dream, dream big, and reach for our dreams with a determination that nothing will stop us. Deanie was born premature and her development, particularly her ability to walk, was affected. She was a late walker, but she did walk, despite the fact that doctors had informed her parents that Deanie might never walk as she had cerebral palsy. Her parents knew all about perseverance and they never gave up on Deanie, and they never let her give up on herself. So, when Deanie started school and was tormented by the other girls because she couldn’t walk right, Deanie’s mother told her to tell the girls that it was okay, because she could ride horses. And ride horses she did. She even competed, winning multiple competitions on different horses.

This is Deanie’s story. My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses is a motivating memoir by a remarkable horsewoman, Deanie Humphrys-Dunne. The memoir is written to inspire readers of all ages to work towards their goals, their dreams, and to never give up. Deanie and her parents never gave up. Even when she fell from her horse, or her leg was trampled by a frightened horse, Deanie always got back into the saddle again and again. Horses have a way of helping us overcome handicaps, disabilities. Horses don’t judge; they don’t tease or bully. For Deanie, the many horses in her life were her motivation. And being a Humphrys certainly helped, with the family motto: “The Humphrys don’t give up.” Deanie never did give up. A powerful message of compassion and determination.

Deborah S. Hockenberry, author

Very encouraging!, May 13, 2017
By Deborah S. Hockenberry
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Paperback)
Can you imagine living on a farm with horses but not being able to ride them? What would it be like to sit there, looking out the window, watching your sisters’ ride, and jumped over fences on them? I think it would be horrible! What if you were disabled and one day your doctor says that you’ll never walk? What would your parents say or do? This all happened to author, Deanie Humphrys-Dunne. She takes us into her world of learning to ride a horse while having a disability. Not only that, but she tells us how she went on to showing the horses and jump them in horse shows! She has the ribbons to show for it, too!
It all started when that doctor said Deanie would never walk. Her dad had other ideas contrary to what the doctor said. Thus, started Deanie’s long journey to the horse shows. It all started with her dad finding her a pony that she could handle and then strengthening her legs so that she could stay up. Then, she learned to walk the horse without falling off; everything up to jumping when she was eighteen. Through the years she’s ridden many horses as she grew and progressed. In this autobiography, the author takes us through all of the up and downs of her life. She tells us of the horses’ barn burning and her mother losing her favorite horse to Deanie finally getting a horse of her own!
I was very impressed with this inspirational book and the courageous author who wrote it! I feel it should definitely be in your home library. It will teach your children that they can overcome whatever obstacles life throws in their direction.

Theodore J. Cohen

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book About True Grit…, May 16, 2017
By Theodore J. Cohen
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Kindle Edition)
Most of us, parent or not, can’t imagine having a child that didn’t crawl until three-years of age, much less one who failed to walk until age four. But that was the early life of author Deanie Humphrys-Dunne, who, delivered two months premature, weighed only three pounds at birth. It took years before doctors finally were able to diagnose her condition: cerebral palsy. Fortunately for her, Ms. Humphrys-Dunne’s father, “a determined person” (that’s an understatement!) made the decision that what the doctor said wasn’t going to stand in his daughter’s way: he was going to teach his little girl how to ride a horse!

And teach her he did. As chronicled in “My Life at Sweetbrier”—a ‘can do’ story if ever there were on—the reader will learn of the struggles and the tears, the disappointments and setbacks, and finally, the joys and the triumphs that mark those among us with the courage to ‘play the hand we are dealt’ and live life on OUR terms.

It’s been said: life isn’t for sissies. Nothing demonstrates this more than what Deanie, with the help of her parents, has accomplished. Critical to the story, as you will learn, is the Humphreys’ farm, Sweetbrier, which includes a sprawling yellow Victorian-style house (built near the end of the 19th century) together with stables and a riding ring. It’s there where Deanie not only learned to ride, but also, to jump horses. Especially rewarding is her story about the jumping contest between Deanie’s pony, Doey, and a horse named Sunny.

Whether or not your life has been touched by adversity, you and your children will enjoy this heartwarming story. As well, there isn’t a person I know who couldn’t learn something about overcoming the obstacles thrown in our paths by simply reading the Deanie Humphrys-Dunne’s new book.

I give it FIVE STARS all the way.

Virginia Wright, children's author

Touching story about overcoming adversity..., May 13, 2017
By Virginia Wright
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Paperback)
My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is a beautiful, touching true story about a little girl that was diagnosed with a condition Cerebral Palsy and was told by her doctor that she would never be able to walk. Her father would not accept that diagnosis and instilled faith in his little girl, and he set out to teach her to ride horses and felt if she could do that, she would be okay. Her parents opened a riding school (Sweetbrier) so that her dad could keep his promise to her. Despite her diagnosis, the family sets out on quite a journey in life. I recommend this book for older aged children for a couple of reasons because it is a touching story of determination and it teaches a lesson never to give up, and it also teaches that dreams can come true.

-Virginia Wright, Author & Illustrator
Author of Buzzzzzzzz What Honeybees Do and The Practice Your Way to Perfect Coloring Book Collection


**Poignant and Heartfelt True Story**, May 25, 2017
By cathrina
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Kindle Edition)
My Life at Sweetbrier is about a young girl diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The doctors told her parents she would never walk. Little did the doctors know about Deanie's father's determination, and he told the doctor where he could go with that opinion. I like that line in the book. My Life at Sweetbrier is filled with Love, Determination, Strength, and Perseverance. A loving family's purpose of helping their baby to overcome her obstacles and reach for the stars. Which she did!!! She not only walked, but she learned to ride horses. And Deanie became a Champion!! I loved the sheer fortitude and "never give up attitude" of Deanie and her wonderful family.

The part about the fire in the barn and her father risking his life to save all the horses was quite heartfelt. I was saddened by the loss of two horses. Through many trials and problems with Deanie's legs and walking, it never seemed to daunt her as she grew, it simply made her stronger.

I loved My Life at Sweetbrier!! And I highly recommend this sweet book!!

Colleen Chesebro, author

5.0 out of 5 stars Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is a real champion and motivator. Her journey will inspire you to reach for the stars., May 19, 2017
By Colleen M. Chesebro
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Kindle Edition)
Do you love horses and stories filled with courage and inspiration? Young, Deanie Humphreys was born a preemie with the debilitating disease called cerebral palsy. At birth, a portion of her brain was damaged. The result was that Deanie had difficulty walking. Now, for most kids, this would be enough to limit their physical activities for life. But Deanie's father made a huge decision that changed her life. He said, "I'm going to teach you to ride, and you'll be fine."

That single decision changed Deanie's life forever. Deanie took her first steps at four years old. With the grit and determination of someone much older than herself, she set out to prove the doctors wrong. And, let me tell you. Deanie's journey is filled with the hopes and joys that only reaching for your dreams and succeeding can bring. It was the ability to ride a horse that gave Deanie the freedom and normality she craved.

My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses, is Deanie's story based on memories and photos from her childhood. The book is written for children of all ages and filled with the kind of stories that everyone can easily relate to. The underlying theme is clear – perseverance pays off - never give up on your dreams.

I laughed and cried with the young Deanie, and I felt her pain at not being like the other kids. This is the kind of book you want to read and discuss with your children, talking about empathy for those who are different; while at the same time, encouraging children to not just accept their lot in life. The author writes:

"…it is wise to use your challenges to motivate you toward your goals because when you've conquered one obstacle, you've gained the confidence to tackle your next challenge."

Also, at the back of the book, the author provides a quiz for the reader to pull from their memory the finer points of the story. Answers are provided giving an additional learning opportunity.

I loved this sweet story of courage in the face of adversity. It was a poignant story of perseverance and motivation to never give up on your dreams. Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is a real champion and motivator. Her journey will inspire you to reach for the stars.


Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5

Patricia Moore, author

Encouraging and educational, May 17, 2017
By Patricia Moore
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Kindle Edition)
Encouraging non-fiction story! My Life at Sweetbrier is also educational, especially for readers who don't have a lot of knowledge about horses.

Yosef Lapid, author

A compelling testimony to the life-transforming ripple effects of love, support and determination!, May 16, 2017
By Yosef Lapid
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Kindle Edition)
The powerful message of this masterfully written and beautifully illustrated autobiographical book is to always stay positive, never lose hope, and always try your best. This is the inspirational story of a determined little girl who adopted such a courageous “can do” attitude. But it is much more than that. It is also the story of a loving father and a supportive family who also adopted the potent “can do!” antidote to adversity. The book is in fact, a compelling testimony to the life-transforming ripple effects of love, support and determination. A must-read for readers of all ages!

Barbara Mojica, author

ONE STEP AT A TIME..., May 16, 2017
By Barbara Mojica
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Paperback)
This book is an inspiring autobiography that will be a source of hope and model of perseverance for anyone who has a physical handicap. The author was born with cerebral palsy; she did not take her first steps until the age of four. One dream kept her moving forward; she loved horses and wanted to ride. Her father bought a horse farm in Easton, Connecticut and encouraged his daughter to overcome all obstacles to achieve that dream. Deanie grew up in this rambling yellow Victorian house surrounded by sweetbriar roses. She faced many setbacks, including her physical disabilities and a disastrous fire. Despite all of these, Deanie persevered until she became a champion.

Middle-grade students who have faced handicaps or bullying will find solace and hope in this tale. The author introduces her readers to a loving family and the tender relationships between the family and their horses. Recommend the series for any reader age eight and over.
Parents of special needs children and special education teachers might want to consider this book as a read aloud.

J. L. Mitchell, author

A Life Changed... EXCELLENT READ!! !, May 15, 2017
By J L. Mitchell
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Kindle Edition)
My Life at Sweetbrier
Cover Art: Excellent

True and wonderful story! The doctors told little Deanie’s parents that she would never walk again. Oh, but her dad would not accept that prognosis! Believe it or not, he wants to try out a new therapeutic treatment… putting her on a little pony! Her little heart beat so fast, as she rode round and round the pony ring, listening to the steady clip-clop of the little hooves. Dad worked so hard with his little disabled child, pushing her, watching her fall off her horse day after day. Then, he starts to see the positive changes that this all had made in her life. This little sad, lonely, stressed out girl, no longer felt isolated from the world. Finally, all the hard work starts to pay off. There was finally balance to Deanie’s physical, emotional and mental state, & lots of hope.

This author is UNSTOPPABLE !! Buy her books! You will love ‘My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses’ 5 stars+

“I received a complimentary copy and chose to review it.”

Sarah Reviews

A Remarkable True Story, May 13, 2017
By Sarah Reviews
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Paperback)
Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is a champion. Deanie won numerous Championship Horse Shows and nowadays continues to win hearts by sharing her experience and encouraging the young to aim high.

Had little Deanie Humphrys been satisfied with just observing her sisters and other girls partake in horse show competitions, no one would have faulted her. After all, Deanie was diagnosed early in life with cerebral palsy and was not even expected to walk. Yet the remarkable Deanie defied her doctors and their predictions! Determination, incredible willpower, and perseverance as well as an amazingly supportive family, propelled young Deanie to amazing success.

“My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses” is a touching, inspirational, and uplifting true story beautifully told by the heroine herself. Highly recommended for children of all ages.

J. Spina, author

An inspirational story of a little girl's determination to succeed!, May 13, 2017
By Jjspina
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Kindle Edition)
If you are looking for an inspirational and unforgettable read this is the book for you. This book will bring you to tears as you read about this inspiring little girl who learns never to say no to her dreams. She was born with a handicap and her parents were told that she would never walk. With a surprisingly strong will and determination to do what her sisters could do, ride horses and win championships, Deanie learned to ride. She found it very difficult and had to adjust many times to falling off her horse and getting up again and again. She never gave up and finally she did succeed and became a championship jumper.

This is quite a feat for this little girl and through her trials and tribulations she teaches children and adults that perseverance pays off. If you want to live your dream then you must work hard even if you at first fail you must keep trying and never give up. By not giving up you will be rewarded with success and a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Deanie is a remarkable woman who has inspired me by her example. She is a talented and creative author of four books and continues to pursue her dreams in being a very successful author. I think she is well on her way to success for nothing will keep her from obtaining her goal.

This is an excellent story for middle school and high school students to encourage them to pursue their dreams and proving by Deanie's example, that no obstacle is too great.

Gisela Sedlmayer

With determination you can achieve your dream, May 29, 2017
By Gisela H. Sedlmayer, author of the Talon book series
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Kindle Edition)
First i have to say: To have a daddy as Deanie has, is priceless. Unfortunately not all daddies would do what Deanie's daddy did.
So, Deanie's book is the amazing story what he achieved as Deanie was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.
Growing up with this disease, it's not easy. But with such a help of her Dad?
Deanie can do everything, as she did and fulfilled her dream: riding horses, her love, even winning competitions.
How could she not have that dream, living on a farm with horses.

It was quite a journey and not every time it worked out as Deanie wanted it to be.
But with determination and getting up again, after a fall, so never giving up, she finally achieved her dream.

A powerful message for never giving up.
Well done, Deanie. What an inspiration you are.
Thank you that i could read your amazing story.

Kris Miller

Born two months premature and weighing in at just three pounds, by the age of three Deanie was still crawling. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the doctor's were certain she would never walk. Deanie's father made a solemn promise, if Deanie couldn't walk, she would learn to ride. And ride she did, straight on to becoming a champion within competitions. Born with strength and determination -- and a father who taught her anything was possible -- Deanie displays unrivaled courage in defying the odds stacked against her. An unforgettable read, Deanie's story is truly inspirational. MY LIFE AT SWEETBRIER is the incredible true story of a young girl who achieved her dreams through perseverance and hard work. A children's book that should should be required reading within a classroom.

~ Kris Miller, certified TopShelf Reviewer. TopShelf Magazine does not offer 'paid review services’ and TopShelf Reviewers are not compensated for their reviews.

Ndeye Labadens

Cherry on the cake!, July 23, 2017
By Ndeye Labadens
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Kindle Edition)
I loved the writing style of the author.
She takes you through her life and story in beautiful prose.
You do not even realize that you have finished the story.
This book is inspirational for kids and adults loving children books.
Get your copy!

Sonata SM

True inspiration on the lesson of perseverance, July 23, 2017
By Sonata SM
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Paperback)
Thank you, Deanie, for writing such an inspirational message to children. The style is delightful, teaching lessons on owning a horse and on riding and jumping plus explaining terms as you go along. Definitions are woven into the story seamlessly. Along the way, you can't miss the lessons in family love, encouragement and loyalty. The last chapter brings this all together with encouraging each child to persevere through all of life's trial and tribulations. The pictures of the farm, you and the horses help the reader remember this is not a novel, but a true story of someone who overcame great odds. Your teacher mode came out with the questions and answers at the end. All aspects were well thought out and brought together so well. I highly recommend "My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses".

Tony Parsons

A delight for all ages to read, August 17, 2017
By Tony Parsons
This review is from: My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses (Paperback)
“You never know what you can do until you try.”
The author & her family’s lifestyle growing up on a horse farm.
Sometimes perseverance can take you places you’ve never dreamed of in life.
A delight for all ages to read.

I did not receive any type of compensation for reading & reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers & authors, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. Only an honest one.

A very awesome book cover, great font & writing style. A very well written memoir book. It was very easy for me to read/follow from start/finish & never a dull moment. There were no grammar/typo errors, nor any repetitive or out of line sequence sentences. Lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns & a great set of unique characters to keep track of. This could also make another great horse movie, animated cartoon, or better yet a mini TV series. A very easy rating of 5 stars.

Thank you for the free Goodreads; Making Connections; Monday Creek Publishing; paperback book
Tony Parsons MSW (Washburn)

Boss Kelly

A wild ride !
ByBoss Kellyon August 30, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne shows us all that the only true handicap we have in life are the ones that we place in front of ourselves. This moving story of a courageous woman who became a successful horse rider through sheer willpower and coaching from her father will eradicate any excuses for readers to not pursue their dream. This book captivates the triumph that the author had achieved in all areas of her life by jumping over one obstacle at a time .


ByKeepCalmNovelOn on September 2, 2017
Format: Paperback
The author via Booktasters provided a copy of the PDF in exchange for an honest review.

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne shares her touching personal journey in the novella, My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses. Deanie was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and she learned not to be defined by C. P. Roadblocks did not stop Deanie. In particular, her determined father helped make her dreams become a reality. The author writes with such integrity and pure honesty. Every parent, educator, caregiver should read this well-written memoir. My Life at Sweetbrier will be enjoyed by all. This story would translate beautifully to the big screen. The power of hope is unstoppable.

Prapti Pandaon

mer Review
4.0 out of 5 starsAn inspiring and warm story!
ByPrapti Pandaon September 1, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
A pretty motivational book that I personally really enjoyed. There's something that mingles with the words when a writer picks up the pen to write her own story- that magic made this book special. I've loved and ridden horses since I was eight years old, so the pain and yearnings that Deanie experienced felt very real to me. There's just something about riding a horse that makes you feel on top of the world. And I really respect the author's perseverance towards achieving this goal, especially with the help of her father.
The only reason I deducted a star from my review is because of the flow of the story- just like the flowing movements of a galloping mare, a story should be neither too fast nor too sluggish to appeal to me. 'My Life at Sweetbrier' is a pretty enjoyable read, but there were places where I sensed repetition and dry stating of facts. And as I am a big fan of straightforwardness, I'll just say that this book could have been edited better to avoid making the story feel a little broken-off at some points.
Other than that, I loved the photographs included, I loved the cool horses' names, the competitions and the author's ability to explain every difficult riding term unintrusively. Altogether an enjoyable read.