Staunton River High School student and her mini horse, Cash, bring joy to hospitals, schools, and even Virginia’s leaders

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Sarah Shinault and Cash in Richmond

Two years ago, Sarah Shinault, now 14 and a freshman at Staunton River High School, asked for a mini for Christmas. Her parents, Steven and Robin Shinault — who are both respiratory therapists at Carilion in Roanoke and very supportive of her love for horses — got her Cash, an Appaloosa-colored mini yearling, for her that Christmas.

cash07Sarah has riding horses that she shows in hunter shows but she wanted a mini. She and Cash, who will be 3 in June, completed Pet Partners training and the pair are now a certified therapy team. They were the first certified miniature horse therapy team in the Roanoke area and one of only eight teams certified in the state. Cash has his own van, the Cashmobile, that is used to transport him, along with Sarah, to their appointments, with Robin Shinault acting as chauffeur. 

Cash and Sarah go to Berkshire Nursing Home and the pediatric unit at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Medical Hospital unit regularly to visit patients. The two also have visited Patrick Henry High School. When the visits are done, Cash is treated to a drive-through meal from McDonald’s: French fries and apple slices. He eats the Apple slices and kicks the salt from the French fries.

Recently, Cash and Sarah made a different kind of visit. On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Virginia Horse Council sponsored a Youth Recognition Day at the General Assembly in Richmond. Young equestrians from all over the Commonwealth came to Richmond and were introduced from the gallery of the General Assembly by Rep. Terry Austin (R-19th District) and Emmett Hanger (R-24th) with thanks for their dedication. 

About 500 people stopped by to meet the young people and the horses, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Sarah and Cash were there to greet the crowd and Cash shared a chat with the governor. Griffin SportHorses of Gretna, Virginia, also brought two of their superstars, a Friesian gelding and a Gypsy Vanner stallion, for the enjoyment of the legislators.

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