Shanda was born with cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Immediately after birth, her doctors had to insert tubes to support her breathing. Her mother, Shannon, said she never heard her baby cry until the tubes came out a month and a half later. Her doctors diagnosed Shanda soon after that so her parents could prepare themselves for life with a disabled child.
Shannon trained, groomed, and exercised racehorses for a living. She took Shanda and her dog to the track barn with her when she was six months old. Shannon carried Shanda on her chest while she rode from the time her baby was six months old. When Shanda was two years old, her mom let her sit in the saddle with the horse at a walk. At three years of age, she put Shanda in an equine therapy program. A year or so later, Shannon began looking for a horse for Shanda. She told me she looked at eight different breeds of horses for her daughter. The last one they looked at was quite a drive from their home. When they arrived to see the horse, Shanda was in a wheelchair. Shannon pushed the chair to the arena rail while the owner brought the horse out of the barn and turned her loose.
The Arabian mare, Persiaa, exploded and galloped around the arena with her tail in the air, snorting and blowing as only an Arabian can until she spotted the child in the chair at the edge of the arena. Persiaa turned and galloped straight for Shanda, causing great concern for Shannon. The mare put on the brakes four feet from the rail, walked to the rail, and dropped her head in Shanda’s lap. Shanda held onto Persiaa’s face, and the two breathed in each other’s scent and stared into each other’s eyes for eight minutes ignoring everything and everybody else around them. Shannon and the horse owner watched in amazement. Shannon bought the mare for Shanda right then.
Shanda continued her equine therapy on her beautiful Arabian mare, Persiaa, for several years. It developed her core strength, improved her sense of balance, and improved her self-image. Children with disabilities, similar to Shanda, often think about what they can’t do far too often. When a child can ride a horse and direct a thousand-pound animal, they gain selfconfidence and add “can” to their vocabulary. While there are things they physically “can’t do,” they “can” ride a horse! Most of them develop a strong sense of pride in that. Shanda learned to groom Persiaa on her own. Persiaa stood perfectly still while Shanda brushed her down, head to tail, using a walker or wheelchair for support. Shanda got on the ground and crawled to Persiaa’s feet, one at a time. Persiaa picked up each foot, in turn, so Shanda could clean them out after riding. She used Persiaa’s leg to get herself off the ground and back into her wheelchair or walker when she finished. Persiaa never flinched or moved a muscle until Shanda was in the clear.
Shannon entered Shanda in the Special Olympics Equestrian Events when she was between nine and ten cult for her, but she put her mind to it, and with Persiaa’s help, she learned to drive through gates in the arena by herself. She adapted to her limitations and figured it out by herself.
When Shanda graduated from high school, it was time for graduation pictures. She wanted the photograph taken with Persiaa and her emotional support/service dog, Hot Coco. The photographer came to the home and took the perfect picture. It now hangs in the hallway near the front door of their home.
The vet diagnosed Persiaa with cancer 19 years after she found her home with Shanda. Shannon let Shanda decide whether to continue to treat the mare and have her for another year or end her suffering.
Shanda, despite, and perhaps because of their strong bond of love, decided it was best to stop the mare’s pain. It took a couple of years for Shanda to reignite her interest in horses. Losing Persiaa was the most heartbreaking thing she’d been through.
Today, Shanda has a new horse to love and care for. She found Burlesque and continues her riding on another Egyptian bred Arabian horse. Shanda hopes to compete at rated Arabian Shows in Driving competition in a couple of years. I know, from Shannon’s description of Shanda’s determination, that Shanda will be showing in the arena within the timeframe she set for herself. I hope I get a chance to see them. I wish Shanda and Burlesque much success.
Victoria Hardesty and Nancy Perez are the authors of five action/adventure novels about Arabian horses and the people who love them. You can find them at: www.authormasterminds.com/victoria-hardesty-and-nancy-perez
This is a story that should inspire everyone.
Despite her difficulties and rough start in life, she didn’t allow nothing to get in her way, nor stop her from achieving and doing what she obviously loved and wanted to do so much!!
She never gave up, and look at her now 🙂
This is such a beautiful story, that goes to show how much horses improve the quality of life for humans. Everyone would benefit from equine therapy, studies have shown that horses are able to relax and regulate a human’s sympathetic system.
This is such an amazing story, this shows that no matter the situation you have been put in you can always try to rise above it. Horses teach us to listen and to have patience which is what Shanda has achieved that with her breathtaking bond with Persiaa . This strong equestrian is someone we should all aspire to be.
The Story of Shanda and Persiaa was the magical bond that can be shared when patience, time, confidence and trust is shared between an animal and a person. I loved reading this inspiring story.
What an incredible story! Horses are truly the most amazing animals. What a great bond they had, equine therapy can be very interesting.
Such a touching story 🥰
It is obvious that the two had a strong unique personal connection with one another. It is also inspiring that with all of her daily obstacles she still prevails and archives the impossible with Persian.
Shanda is an inspiration to not only those with a disability but to everyone. I can only hope to have a connection with a horse like that.
Love this! Such a great bong they both shared together! Keep up the good work!
What an inspiring story!
It is truly inspiring to see the amazing connection shanda made with both horses, I wish them all the best.
It is truly amazing to see the inspiring connection that Shanda made with both horses. It really shows just how gentle and kind horses can be.
An amazing story that shows the true bond between a horse and human
This story really tugged on the heart strings! The bond between horse and rider is truly a beautiful thing.
Shows just how amazing horses can be!! Inspiring story
I really enjoyed reading this story about Shanda and her horses. I found it amazing the sensitivity of Persiaa towards Shanda, what an incredible story.
I enjoyed reading this story, it was amazing the bond that Persiaa and Shanda shared. It was a beautiful and touching story.
This story of Shanda and Persiaa is so inspring! The connection the two had from the start to the end was still so strong. Something she will never forget.
This story is beautiful.
Its amazing how we can bond with our own four legged friends and work with them, NOT against!
Such an amazing story!!!
Such a heart warming story!
This is so incredibly inspirational. I loved how she didn’t stop trying even with her disabilities. The connection with her horse, it reminded me so much of the connection I had with my old horse.
This is inspirational to anyone as Shanda despite her disability made it possible for her to achieve her dreams and the connection with her horse was a unique and special bond.
How inspiring, great story!
What an inspiring and heart warming story and journey
What an amazing story, how inspiring.
This is an amazing and inspiring story about Shanda, whose disability didn’t stop her from doing what she loved and at the same time building strength, persistence and pride.
This is so inspirational, can’t wait to start. 🙂
This is such a beautiful story, and so moving. The connection between you and your horse really does help you conquer the world and overcome any challenges. I am honestly so excited to start this course to read more inspirational and heartwarming stories like this.
Such an incredible story! Shanda’s ability to overcome adversity allowed her to do the things she loved to do, and create this amazing connection with her horse. A Very heart-warming and inspiring story.
This story should be an inspiration for everyone and proves how much a horse and a person’s bond can affect an individual.
Very inspiring story!!
Such a beautiful story shanda xx
The benefits of interacting with horses are evident in this article. These very real benefits are the main reason I hope to develop my business and be able to share horse experiences with people who don’t have the privilege of owning their own.
this is amazing how much horses can aid in therapy for people, and how much having a bond with a horse can do.
This story is so inspirational! It proves that Shandas disability didn’t stop her from following her dreams. She shows so much strength and resilience.
What a story! Horses are such incredible animals and the few of us that have them in our lives are very lucky. They teach us so much about ourselves and bring out the best in us. There is a special connection between the horse and their rider and Shanda, Persiaa and Burlesque are a perfect example of this. What a inspiration the three of them are.
A beautiful story that enhances the special bond between a rider and his/her horse. I always believed horses choose their riders, not the other way around. Therefore their presence in our lives is always a blessing.
This is an incredible story to read about a very inspirational young woman! I also believe the moral of it is that no matter what hardships life throws in your way, as long as you have determination you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
This story is so beautiful, it could inspire so many people living with a disability to try something that they think they maybe can’t normally do.
This story is beautiful, it could inspire people living with a disability to try something they don’t think they would be able to do.
Such a beautiful and touching story. So glad that Shanda got back into riding, even after heartbreak. Very inspiring!
This article shows us that we are able to achieve anything we put our minds to, showing that horses are able to help conquer any fears we may have. This story is quite inspirational, showing anything is achievable no matter the problem or challenge you may be facing. This article proves that equine therapy helps people as it gives them a can do attitude and mindset.
this story is beautiful, so inspiring 🙂
such a beautiful story, so inspiring :))
A very inspirational and heart warming story. Because of her dedication to succeed and the help of Persiaa, Shanda came and will continue to go a long way with horses😊
Beautiful story, as it is obvious that she had a strong relationship with her horse and is so touching. So inspiring to others with disabilities or injuries that anything can be achieved.
This is such an inspiring story for everyone in and out of the equine industry.
Beautiful! Inspirational! What a truly complete relationship between human and equine.
This is such an awe-inspiring story. Shanda is an inspiration about what can be achieved with both determination and love, despite the obvious obstacles of life.
Beautiful story, amazing to see the positive impact horses have. I see this a lot with our NDIS clients
This is such a lovely story, it shows how horses can aid people both emotionally and physically and the bond that forms throughout the journey together.
Another example of anyone can do anything if you put your mind and hard work to it. Reading the story on the connection between the two shows how real emotions can be between animal and human.
Beautiful story. Reading this story made me realize that everyone can do everything that they put there mind true even if you have disabilities or not.
This story of Shanda and Persiaa is inspirational. Shanda has demonstrated that you can achieve your goals and dreams with hard work and dedication. It is also a great story showing the amazing connections humans can have with animals, in this case it is with her horse Persiaa.
The story of Shanda and Persiaa is really inspiring. It proves that people can do anything and how the bond between humans and horses can improve someones life greatly.
Such a beautiful story the connection between those two is the strongest I’ve seen
That was such an emotional story. I love the conncection and bond that sparked when Shanda first met Persiaa. Even though Shanda had struggles in her life she still managed to have such a great bond with Persiaa which is just so beautiful.
Such a beautiful story and very inspiring. Shanda’s story really proves if you want something bad enough and you work hard enough for it you can achieve your goals and dreams.
This is such a powerful story and goes to show how with a will there’s a way.
Amazing what happens with perseverance!
This story is amazing and shows how animals can be so helpful and therapeutic.
What an awesome and inspirational story! This really goes to show how truly special and how strong a bond can be between a horse and its owner!
This story proves that someone can do something if they put their mind and time towards it.
Great post. I was checking constantly to this blog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful information particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such info much. I was seeking this particular information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.
This is such an inspirational, beautiful, and heart felt story. Horses are amazing, and i love that this proves that humans can do anything they put their mind to!
I am looking forward to starting this course.
Loved reading this! Shanda demonstrated how anything is possible if you set your mind to it. This is an incredibly touching story and a big inspiration for many.
This is a beautiful inspiring story.