Local teen named AJPHA Youth Member of the Year

Madison Martin

Madison Martin, 15, of Evington, Virginia, is the definition of a well-rounded individual, excelling in academics, the community and the horse show industry.

Martin was recently named the 2017 AJPHA (American Junior Paint Horse Association) Youth Member of the Year and has been named secretary of the AjPHA Executive Committee.

“I was not expecting to win [the Youth Member of the Year] and was very surprised,” Madison said. “I know a lot of great people applied for it, so it’s an honor to be member of the year. I actually got the call I had won it on my birthday, which was a great present.”

Youth Member of the Year is presented annually at the Youth World Show to an AjPHA member who exemplifies commitment to service and their community, scholastic achievement and leadership. The award is not given based on show-ring merits, but rather to a person who embodies the spirit of AjPHA and has a deep love for and involvement with Paint Horses. Winners receive a $1,000 scholarship and a custom Gist Silversmiths trophy buckle.

“I got into horses because my neighbor let me ride her horse, which is now mine,” Madison said. “I have been involved with horses for quite a while now, and I absolutely love it and love Paints.”

Beyond her involvement with the Paint Horse industry, she is also a leader in her local 4-H and Pony Club where she has been actively involved for five years.

Outside of equine activities, Madison is a member of French Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and plays basketball. Going into her junior year of high school, she will begin to take dual-enrollment courses and earn college credits. She aspires to attend law school and is on the fast-track to that goal by taking an Introduction to U.S. Law class this summer at the College of William & Mary Law School.

Volunteer work is very important to Madison. In 2016, she served as Senate Page for the Commonwealth of Virginia and volunteers in Sen. Steve Newton’s office. She gives back to her community by participating in trash pick-up days and is a volunteer for her children’s ministry at her local church.


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

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.