Though the Canadian team walked away with the hefty $75,000 prize, the Israeli team felt like champions having establishing Israel’s competitive status in equestrian sports.
Backed by T.E.A.M. Israel (The Equine Athletics Mission), the Israeli show jumping team, consisting of riders Danielle Goldstein, Elad Yaniv and Joshua Tabor, made its historic debut at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida. T.E.A.M. Israel CEO Kate Levy served as their chef d’equipe (team captain).
"This Nations Cup team is a much-anticipated and incredibly positive step in the right direction for the Israeli Equestrian Team, T.E.A.M. Israel, and every equestrian and horse-enthusiast in Israel. We are so proud to be the first team to ever raise the flag for Israel, and we consider it a victory to have made it this far," said Levy.
"Competing as a team at this level is no longer just a dream, and we hope to inspire more Israeli riders to join us in creating depth in our equestrian sports for generations to come."
In an environment where most horses and riders have competed together regularly in the past, two members of the Israeli team, Yaniv and Tabor, had the distinct disadvantage of riding their mounts for the first time.
"It was a little daunting competing at this level where everyone knows that it would be better to establish a relationship with the horses, but we were willing to risk it all to be part of this event and begin charting our path to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio," added Levy.
Mission: Developing robust equestrian culture
Danielle Goldstein, the third member of the Israeli team, has been hard at work this season competing at WEF with her mount, Carisma. In 2010, US-born Goldstein became a dual citizen of the United States and Israel so that she could represent Israel in competition.
This past summer, the award-winning show jumper competed under the Israeli flag at the European Championships in Denmark and coached the Israeli show jumping team to a gold medal finish at the 2013 Maccabiah Games.
"It is so exciting to see this vision come to life and have Israel so well represented on the international stage. Having a team at the Nations Cup is just the first step to raising awareness and gathering momentum for T.E.A.M. Israel’s larger mission of developing a robust equestrian culture in our small but powerful country," said Deborah Schultz, an Internet entrepreneur and co-founder of T.E.A.M. Israel.
T.E.A.M Israel, a non-profit organization dedicated to positively impacting Israeli society and garnering national pride and international respect for the State of Israel through the development of a robust equestrian culture,
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, expand their team and build the equestrian culture in Israel.
T.E.A.M. Israel works towards the establishment of state-of-the-art equestrian centers to train the next generation of Israeli riders, a framework for increased, high level equestrian education, and a world-class equestrian team that will compete worldwide under the Israeli flag.
Reprinted with permission from the Tazpit News Agency