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Horsing around for Israel

Posted By Abigail Klein Leichman On February 11, 2013 @ 12:00 am In Arts and Culture | No Comments

Professional equestrian Danielle Goldstein was a vision in blue and white at the $100,000 Trump Invitational Grand Prix show-jumping event in Palm Beach, Florida.

“I have the Israeli flag on everything I can think of – my competition coat, the crocheted bonnet for my horse, the pad under the saddle and all the staff’s clothing. I am a proud Israeli,” declares Goldstein, who was invited to participate in the January 6 inaugural charity event along with Olympic gold medalists Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Rodrigo Pessoa and other world-class show-jumpers.

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Goldstein is a relatively new Israeli, and rather a figurative one at that. Though she got her citizenship in 2009 and maintains an apartment in Tel Aviv, the 27-year-old Olympic hopeful lives in Wellington, Florida, where she founded Starwyn Farms show barn. But her adopted nationality is no gimmick.

“I traveled to Israel the first time for my bat mitzvah at 12, and it hit me that this was a place I knew about but never quite understood,” Goldstein tells ISRAEL21c. “I felt a strong personal connection. As I got older and more competitive in riding, I thought it would be amazing if I could represent Israel in competitions.”

She originally thought she would be able to spend more time in Israel working for her family’s charitable foundation. However, her animals needed her in Florida.

“I felt a responsibility to bring awareness… to the country through the sport,” Goldstein says.

“I had gotten a couple of good horses and had to get back to work with them, so [my Israeli citizenship] ended up being more symbolic than I intended,” admits the Grand Prix award-winner.

Israel has about 200 horse stables for show jumping, dressage, Western and therapeutic riding, but the only event for competitive equestrians is an annual national show-jumping competition. Expect to see Goldstein there in May.

Olympic dreams

One of Goldstein’s goals is to raise the global profile of Israeli horsemanship. “We’re such a small group relative to the rest of the world, and I felt a responsibility to bring awareness not only to the sport but to the country through the sport,” Goldstein says.

Her goal is to put together a national team for the 2016 Olympics. She names a few Olympic-level equestrians from Israel, some of them currently living abroad for easier access to international competitions. “But I’ll go as an individual if I have to,” says Goldstein.

Even the horse’s bonnet has an Israeli flag.

Raised in New York City, she went professional only in 2012 after 15 years of coaching by Olympic show-jumpers Frank Chapot, Todd Minikus, Lauren Hough and Norman Dello Joio.

“I come from a very sports-oriented family,” she says. Her father was at one time the top-ranking professional squash player in the world. Her mother played semipro tennis and her brother is into competitive golf.

Even her boyfriend, David Krum, is a former pro cyclist. She met him during her bike tour across the United States three years ago to raise money for breast cancer research after her grandmother was diagnosed with the disease. The couple just opened a horsemanship certification program coinciding with the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington during January. They may one day replicate this program in Israel.

“We have absolutely considered doing it in Israel and we hope to have something in the works within the next five years,” says Goldstein, whose lifelong interest in horses began with a “random” riding lesson at age eight. In late 2012, she ran a series of training clinics for young equestrians in Barbados.

Every day, Goldstein rides each of her five horses at Starwyn Farms. These German, Dutch and Belgian warmbloods (a cross between thoroughbreds and sturdy plough horses) are known affectionately by their “barn names” — Holly, Libby, Harley, Adam and Curtis. The animals’ athletic training schedule incorporates a 20-minute morning walk around a carousel, 45 minutes with Goldstein in the saddle and then 30 minutes on a horse treadmill followed by a feeding at 3 p.m. and some well-earned relaxation.

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