Hebatallah Shahin is a living example of courage and determination. Born in Gaza without a left leg due to congenital amputation (i.e. the absence of a limb at birth), Hebatullah’s love for horses began at the age of 5. Her parents decided to make her join an Equestrian club. Now 17, she is considered Gaza’s first showjumper with an artificial leg.
“I have always loved watching horses, [even] without being able to ride them. Then I decided to start my journey with this amazing creature.”
An example for anyone
After her first horse ride, Hebatullah couldn’t stop talking about the wonderful experience. She soon joined a professional Equestrian club after the family moved to Norway due to the unstable conditions in Gaza but moved back again in 2011. She received full support from her parents from the start, in contrary to criticisms of her relatives, which made her further accepted the challenge her dream was. “Disability is about negativity. Look at [my daughter], is there anything negative about her? She is a positive and ambitious girl with an outstanding future waiting for her,” her mother said.
Unlike other people, Shahin was able to balance herself fast when, for the first time, wearing an artificial limb at the age of 11. Yaqoub Louzon, her friend, believes that Hebatallah’s success can be an example for anyone who is lacking self-confidence. “She sets an example that we should encourage and appreciate. Her success will always inspire us all. I can’t stop smiling while watching her on a horse.”
Spreading hope and ambition
In May 2016, she decided to undergo professional training in show jumping. Without special provisions for her condition, her practices were all the more challenging. To ride horses, she has to exert double the effort that a person with two legs does. During her rides, she must make sure her artificial limb is attached well, while simultaneously controlling the horse, but she makes it look effortless. Her artificial limb is not appropriate for sports, as the best ones are too costly. Surprisingly, the limb doesn’t even affect her now, representing her will and self-determination.
Hebatullah’s dream is to own a black Arabian horse and a stable full of horses but pursues a career in media and journalism, like her father. She wants to tell her story and have her voice heard. “I want to spread hope and ambition,” Hebatullah said, clearly showing that her disability always will be her source of true inspiration.