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nonprofit fe ature

can feel confident that their funding is going to professional, trauma-informed programming. It’s like the Community Foundation model, screening and fundraising for equine therapy and learning in Western North Carolina.” Knapp was born and raised in Lakeland, Florida, and has a Master of Arts in English. She has taught college English at the University of Florida and at Richland College in Dallas, Texas. Currently, she teaches equine assisted mental health and learning for a master’s program at Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. She is also the founder and president of Horse Sense of the Carolinas, Inc. (2003), delivering psychotherapy and learning with horses in our region.

“This vet had tears streaming down his cheeks, something breaking open inside him with the help of a horse.”

Shannon Knapp

Executive Director, Heart of Horse Sense


R EATING HEART OF HORSE SENSE IN 2014 was the perfect vehicle for Shannon Knapp’s passion for bringing horses and humans together for mutual healing. Knapp explains that there is so much need for unique healing opportunities, and the powerful horse-human connection can be life-changing and even, in the case of many veterans, life-saving. “At Horse Sense of the Carolinas, we saw there was a need to help support the cost of services for those who can’t pay (such as children) and those who already have (veterans), when funding is a barrier,” she says. “Organizations offering such services often have their hands completely full delivering services and can’t spend the time writing grant applications and fundraising to underwrite deserving populations like at-risk youth and veterans. “Heart of Horse Sense was created to take that burden on, as well as screening Equine Therapy programs for quality, education, and treatment of the horse partners, so that people 72

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The most challenging part of her job is fundraising for ongoing sustainability. On the flip side, the most rewarding part of her job includes seeing children and veterans, who at first may be very closed off, come alive in the process of working with horses. They connect, engage with their horses, staff, and the natural world. Watching them “wake up” to possibilities is a reward in itself. Not surprisingly, Knapp enjoys trail riding her horses in her spare time; along with reading and, she notes proudly, Cleveland Indians baseball. She names her parents as the most influential people in her life and shares the story of her father, James W. Sikes, who bought a bankrupt tile company and turned it into the second largest tile producer in the country during his life. He never stopped giving back to his community, often anonymously. His favorite phrase was, “If everyone in my community were just like me, what would my community be?” Knapp sees that as his challenge to her. Her mother, a schoolteacher with a love for kids, has become a huge philanthropic force in Lakeland, sitting on many boards and creating several small funds in honor of her mother and Knapp’s father. She is over 80 years old and works out at the Y every day. Veterans are an important beneficiary of programs supported by Heart of Horse Sense. While most of the work is done at Knapp’s farm in Marshall, occasionally it is done offsite. For example, Knapp has taken horses to the Henderson Countybased Veterans Healing Farm in the past. (Veterans Healing Farm head John Mahshie was profiled as part of this

Profile for Capital at Play Magazine

Capital at Play November 2018  

Vol 8 | Ed 11 - Western North Carolina's Business Lifestyle Magazine - Featuring Breath, Brain, Movement, & Self-Care: Non-medical Wellnes...

Capital at Play November 2018  

Vol 8 | Ed 11 - Western North Carolina's Business Lifestyle Magazine - Featuring Breath, Brain, Movement, & Self-Care: Non-medical Wellnes...