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Christmas in Bethlehem
Horseback Riding in Israel
Before leaving the U.S. to move with my Israeli husband to Israel in April of this year, my mom asked, with a twinkle in her eye, if I were going to take my riding boots. I heard there were some places to ride in Israel and wondered if one day I might be able to saddle-up again. Since the age of about ten I have loved horses. When I owned my first horse at 13, I spent all my spare time riding, grooming and just being near my furry friend with whom I would regularly share my carrots and an earful of secrets.
I never grew out of the "horse phase". In fact I took two years off from my University studies to compete full-time in the sport of Eventing, which includes Dressage, Cross-Country and Show Jumping. But in 2002 I graduated from University and began working professionally in the D.C. office of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). Riding and horses were put away as real-life issues came into focus and left little time and money for hobbies. Soon I found myself volunteering in Israel where I met, fell in love with and married my best friend - and in case you were wondering, he doesn't have four legs this time.
I've never been sorry with my decision to put horses on the back burner and focus on issues larger than myself. God has a way of blessing us as we strive to live for his purposes. Still, I have missed riding and always hoped that God would someday bring horses across my trail once more.
Well, as I was saying, my husband and I decided to move to Israel in April. Packing up your life and transferring it to another country is no small feat and requires weighing the worth of each and every possession. I weighed our suitcases again and again, constantly adjusting the contents to meet the weight limits. Throughout the process my mom kept nudging me about my riding boots. My family has always been my biggest supporter taking me from this competition to that testing and caring for my horse when I was sick or away. After my mom's encouragement, I decided to at least try and squeeze in my boots, gloves and helmet. After some finagling, shoving and sitting on the suitcase in order to zip in all the chaos, my horse equipment was packed. I mean who needs so many pairs of pants, purses and high heels when you can stuff a dream into your suitcase?
A few years back, when volunteering in Israel, I passed a riding stable on a road number 2 and wondered at the possibility of one day again finding myself on the back of one of God's most majestic animals, looking at Israel from about 5 feet off the ground.
Well, just a couple weeks ago my sweet husband planned a surprise birthday gift for me, a horseback ride along the Mediterranean Sea- something I always dreamed of doing. Just outside of Zichon Yacov, is a small Kibbutz that offers just that. It was lovely and I highly recommend it for riders and non-riders alike. There are several options I have listed below:
Ramot Ranch - Moshav Ramot...(North)
Nimrod Ranch - Kibbutz Kfar Giladi...(North)
Vered Hagalil Ranch ...(North)
Dubi's Ranch - Kibbutz Ramot Menashe...(North)
Bat Yaar Ranch - Mitzpe Amoka...(North)
Golan Riders - Kibbutz Ortal...(North)
Havatzelet Hasharon - Moshav Havatzelet HaSharon...(Med.Coast)
Cactus Ranch - by Michmoret...(Med.Coast)
Kalia Stables - Kibbutz Kalia...(South)
After doing a little research, I recently discovered that the very riding stable I saw a few years back on road number 2 is actually located just minutes from our home in Ra'anana. It is called the Jockey Club, http://www.jockeyclub.co.il, and it is one of the nicest riding stables in Israel. The owner is Franke de Leede who helped me to acquire a special certification from the Israeli Equestrian Federation and the Israel Ministry of Sport to teach riding lessons here in Israel based on my US Certification.
As exciting as getting that approval was, it still did not afford me the opportunity to actually ride. However, last week as my husband and I were jogging we ran across another small farm. Just a 10 minute walk from our home is another small stable called Chavat Chaim, Or "Life Farm" http://www.life-farm.co.il/. They offer dressage lessons as well as Therapeutic riding for people with disabilities.
The owners are Shlomi and Freida and they are the kindest of people, who have also provided a horse for me to ride in exchange for his training. His name is "Boco" and he is also quite ready to share my carrots and hear my secrets. It is quite amazing for me to see how God brought horses back to me in a very unexpected way and in a practically unthinkable place. I am also very thankful for my mom who kept encouraging me to bring those riding boots!
In just about a month the competition season will begin here in Israel and I am looking forward to checking it out. If you are interested in this season's competition schedule and would like to check out one or two of the shows, feel free to email my Travelujah account with any questions.
If you are planning a trip to Israel, I highly recommend viewing the Mediterranean coast from horseback!
- Not sure if you will get this question. We have 4 horse: an Arabian, 2 mustangs that I've trained, and a Morgan. We love riding and will be in Israel in May. Any recommendations on where to go where we don't go tail to tail and can relax and just ride? We are not English style riders, more Colorado style where we just ride with western gear or bareback. Thanks. Dee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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