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Danielle Goldstein: A breath of fresh air

Wednesday, 27 September 2017
Interview

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Danielle Goldstein and Lizziemary at the European Championships in Gothenburg, where they really impressed ending 9th overall. All photos (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Bright blue hair and the funkiest outfit of the weekend – that is how we have come to know Danielle Goldstein. The 32-year-old has shot up the ranks over the past few years, and as we watched her go in the Longines FEI European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden, we could not help but wonder what her story is. And what is the story of her wonderful mare Lizziemary? And what’s with the pants…?

“They are yoga pants, they are not even breeches!” Danielle laughs about her somewhat different outfit. “I do yoga, and it all stemmed from there – some I designed myself. Every day I ride in yoga pants,” she tells us. “I get up in the morning, I put one outfit on, I do yoga, put socks on and then I go to the barn – and I never change. It so comfortable! I have a bit of a funky personality and for me, to be able to express myself through fashion with the horse stuff – it is fun!”

“I am stuck wearing this all day – I might as well wear something I love! I find it much more flattering – I mean, white pants on women are not good! So… for me, it was always the question of looking better in white pants… I want to feel good about myself when I am walking around. And riding is exercise, we should be wearing clothing designed for that. I am not against the traditional stuff, but I really like to be funky – and comfortable,” Danielle explains about her less than ordinary outfits.

Danielle, born and raised in New York City, rides for Israel. “I have a lot of family and friends in Israel. I moved there in 2010 for a short period and while I was there, I got the citizenship. I always wanted to represent Israel internationally – I always, from when I was a young kid, knew I wanted to do that,” she tells us. “It means a lot for me. I think it is important to try and do something good for a country that does not get so much positive attention, and I feel a deep connection to the place. I went there for the first time when I was twelve and I fell in love with the country and the people,” she explains.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson "For me, to be able to express myself through fashion with the horse stuff – it is fun!” Danielle says about her different and colourful outfits.

“That I started to ride, was a random thing actually,” she laughs “None in my family are into riding, they play tennis and squash. I got into it through a friend, who one summer asked if I want go to the stables and ride a pony. ‘Sure, I love animals’, was my answer and it just started like that – and I fell in love right away.”

“Now I live in Holland – so I have a citizenship of Israel and US, and residency in the Netherlands. The last four or so years, I have lived near Amersfoort at Alan Waldman’s barn,” Danielle tells us. “I train with Helena Stormanns, we meet up every week. Helena has been wonderful, I think my riding has changed dramatically over the last two years, since I started working with her. We made a bigger plan with Helena, with real goals and she has been instrumental in my success. I owe a lot to her,” she praises her German trainer.

Danielle rides full time. “I am a really big yoga fan, so every day I wake up and do an hour or so yoga, or I go for a run. Then I ride, usually at least eight horses a day. I do all my paperwork myself, so the afternoons are spent with that. When I get home on Sundays, I ride all the horses at home on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are for national shows and the weekends are for international shows,” she explains her full schedule.

And her mare Lizziemary? “Lizziemary I got from Billie Twomey last October. We sort of tried her once, jumped a couple of 1.20m jumps and Alan and me looked at each other and said ’this will work, this will do’. It sort of clicked straight away; the first show I went with her, I won the Grand Prix, second week I was second, then I waited a bit and got to know her at home and did some national stuff and a lot training. Then we went to Wellington and built her up to jump some of the biggest classes. In Florida, we started to jump the 1.60m classes and then the Globals started,” she tells about the mare that she also competed at the Europeans this year – ending 9th individually.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson "We got a connection right from the start," Danielle tells about her wonderful mare Lizziemary.

Finishing on top the podium at the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Estoril with Lizziemary has been Danielle’s biggest win – so far. “I was standing on the podium with Maikel van der Vleuten and he said he’d never heard that national anthem before. ’I don’t hear it too often, either’, I laughed! It was nice to do it on Lizziemary, cause we got a connection right from the start – it all sort of came together there and since then it has been all good.”

The Longines FEI European Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden, was the fourth major championship for Danielle. “I brought both Lizziemary and Caspar, and we did not decide who I would jump in the championship until after the vet check,” she tells. “We trained them equally, so we could go and choose when we got there. I had a good feeling on Lizziemary. The first day at this championship, the speed round, is really important and I am better going fast on her; in the end that tipped the scale – the first round is so important. And it was definitely the right choice.”

“Actually, the last major championship I went to, was on a horse I knew inside and out, and I had higher expectations there – because the horse was old and it was kind of my last shot with her. In Gothenburg, I sort of had no idea how it was going to go – I had no expectations, I did not know how my horse would handle the championship – stamina is not always Lizziemary’s strong point, but she really stepped up.”

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson "She has been instrumental in my success. I owe a lot to her,” says Danielle about her trainer Helena Stormanns.

On top of yoga and the horses, Danielle’s heart beats for Israel. “I think the country gets a lot of bad press. It is the most unbelievable place in the world. It is an innovative and funky place! If you were to go there, you would see I fit in there; there is a lot of life there, a lot of funky things coming out. I feel very much at home there,” Danielle tells. “I do a lot of horse stuff there and give clinics. As far as I know, showjumping is the largest discipline of the equestrian sports in Israel. There are hundreds of showjumping riders, they have shows – the sport is there, not on a super high level, but they know what they are doing.”

“Results come with good, solid riding,” Danielle says, and that is just what she is aiming for. “I just want to ride well. Usually when I come out of the ring and rode well, I am happy. Of course, everybody dreams about going to the Olympics and winning medals. For me, I am in this for the long haul; I love the sport, I love the industry – I don’t have any intention on doing anything else than this. This is my life and a passion, I love it. For me, in ten years from now, I hope I am doing what I do today,” she says. “There are a few riders that I admire greatly, that I think are really exceptional riders, like Maikel van der Vleuten and Marlon Zanotelli. I have seen them do amazing things and I dream of one day being able to do what they do on a horse.”

 


Text © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen // Pictures © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson

No reproduction without permission

 

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