By Elie Klein
PROFESSIONAL show jumper, Danielle Goldstein is well known on the national and international Grand Prix circuit. In addition to being a top competitor, Goldstein also stands out for her choice to ride for Israel.
On my first trip to Israel I told my parents that I wanted to ride for Israel, said Goldstein. They smiled at me and said what parents are supposed to say when their young child has a dream. They told me to go for it.
Goldsteins fateful first visit to Israel was when she was 12 years old, in honor of her Bat Mitzvah. She celebrated the milestone with her family and a rabbi in a beautiful ceremony at the edge of the Dead Sea. The trip to the Jewish homeland inspired her.
It was an overwhelming experience. I have felt this connection to the country and the people ever since. Although she was young, Danielle left the country with a vision.
From that point on, show jumping was not just about Danielle and her horse it was about striving to one day represent Israel in her beloved sport.
GOLDSTEIN, now 28, started riding at age eight, and has not stopped since. She trained all through middle school, traveling for 90 minutes every day from Manhattan to Long Island and New Jersey to riding facilities. Goldsteins devotion to the sport continued during her freshman year at Duke University, when she would fly home every weekend to train at Starwyn Farms, the riding facility her family owns in Wellington, Fla.
But she eventually gave up that grueling routine to focus on her studies for the next three years. I always knew I would go back to riding, recalled Goldstein, who now sustains the property by buying and selling horses, providing training facilities and renting out parts of the farm.
THOUGH she gained Israeli citizenship in 2010 and has been riding in international competition for Israel for several years now, Goldstein is yet to participate in an Israel-based competition. She hopes to make her Israeli debut this summer in the 2013 Maccabiah games, the largest Jewish sporting event in the world.
Always setting the pole high, Goldstein seeks to reach out to other Jewish athletes from across the globe to ride for Israel.
Her ultimate goal is to help to organize a team of talented show jumpers to represent Israel at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, being the first equestrian riders from the country to participate in the Olympics.
There are some exceptional Jewish show jumpers spread around the world. I hope that we can pool our resources, come together and send a small but strong team for the first time to represent Israel in equestrian competition at the Olympics, explains Goldstein excitedly.
Using the sport I love to express my affection for Israel is a dream come true. I hope that by riding for Israel I can make my new country proud.
Adi Leibovitz, the owner of the Jockey Club Ranch in Rishpon the oldest, biggest horse farm in Israel says Goldsteins arrival comes at a moment of growth for the sport.
Having someone like Danielle ride for Israel will promote the sport within Israel, and will give Israel more exposure internationally.