On Feb. 28, an Israeli show jumping team will compete in a Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup for the first time in the team’s history.
The team, consisting of Danielle Goldstein, Elad Yaniv and Joshua Tabor, will make their debut in Wellington, Fla., at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival in the with the help of their chef d’equipe Kate Levy and T.E.A.M. Israel.
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T.E.A.M. (The Equine Athletics Mission) Israel, the pioneering force behind this momentous occasion, is a non-profit organization that aims to develop the equestrian community in Israel. Their mission is to train riders, develop equine facilities, educate Israeli citizens about equestrian culture, and develop the country’s competitive international presence.
“We want to be a resource for passionate Israeli equestrians as much as we can so that collectively we can grow the sport within the country,” said Levy. “We also want to improve awareness and education, so our goal is to sponsor classes on equine studies and we’ve already started forming some courses. ”
The Nations Cup team debuting at WEF this year is both the result of the organization’s hard work thus far and the key to developing the program further.
“This is already such a victory and a huge collective effort in coming this far,” said Levy. “We just have so much pride in being the first to ever raise the flag for Israel in a Nations Cup. We want to show the world and the aspiring riders in Israel that if you want something badly it doesn’t have to be just a dream.”
The Israeli Equestrian Team’s goals are not focused solely on winning the Nations Cup, but on representing their country and serving as inspiration for aspiring Israeli riders. In an environment where most horses and riders have competed together regularly in the past, two members of the Israeli team, Yaniv and Tabor, will have the distinct disadvantage of riding their mounts for the first time.
“It’s a little daunting to think that we’re going to be competing at this level where everyone knows that it would be better to establish a relationship with the horses, but for us it’s really more about being a part of this event and having a team for the first time,” said Levy. “I feel like in a way we’ve already won just being here. I’m just banking on the fact that whatever we lack in depth, we’ll make up for in spirit.”
Danielle Goldstein, the third member of the Israeli team, has been hard at work this season competing at WEF with her mount, Carisma. U.S.-born Goldstein became a dual citizen of the United States and Israel last year so that she could represent Israel in competition and join T.E.A.M. Israel in raising awareness for equestrian sports in the country.
It was on a visit to Israel for her Bat Mitzvah that Goldstein decided to make representing the country in the sport she loves a priority. She declared Israeli citizenship in 2010. In August 2013, she competed under the Israeli flag at the European Championships in Denmark. Goldstein also coached a show jumping team to team gold at the 2013 Maccabiah Games; it was the first time the Maccabiah Games had included equestrian sports.
“[Goldstein] has big aspirations and has [family] connections to Israel, so she made the decision to ride for Israel. In the United States, the sport is very, very developed and has a lot of followers. In a lot of ways, riding for Israel is a force of good. We wanted to share our passion for the sport and our love for horses with the Israel people and this is a great way of doing that.”
T.E.A.M Israel hopes to continue their forward progression into a Nations Cup summer tour in the United States to help promote their cause and attract Israeli riders to join the effort to expand the equestrian culture both in Israel and abroad. Competing in their first Nations Cup this weekend is the first step in creating an equestrian culture in the small but powerful country.