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Under siege, one Gaza horse club remains
Published Friday 02/07/2010 (updated) 06/07/2010 14:09
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- click for more images of the Al-Faisal Riding Club -
[MaanImages]
By Ayman Abu Shanab

Gaza - Ma'an - Riding is an authentically Arab sport, particularly for Palestinians, 19-year-old Gaza resident Taher Khaznadar told Ma’an last week, from Gaza’s sole operating horse club.

The Al-Faisal Riding Club is open to all, young and old, male and female, as long as they can pay the monthly fee of 250 shekels (64 US dollars), limiting the availability of the sport to at least the 30% in Gaza who are not unemployed.

For the club’s dwindling numbers – a total of 30 riders, only 15 permanent members and the other half on and off, or just beginners - the club has two tracks, a 40-meter and a 60-meter international standard; it is also equipped with several styles of show-jumps and worn, but sturdy harness equipment.

On a warm Thursday evening, boys and girls from the club’s junior team gathered on the Gaza City beach to wash their horses ahead of a ride, where parents and neighbors would cheer on the children.

For those who can afford it, the club is a place to send their kids for fun and focus, a small farm oasis next to the Mediterranean Sea.

Khaznadar said he joined the club a year ago, “Learning how to ride gave me courage,” he said, adding that the sport may have even impressed a bit of gallantry on him as he passed through his teens. But most importantly, he said, when he was training, “I’m happy.”

Reem Al-Hafi, 20, was excited about having a sport she could openly participate in, “this a new hobby for girls to practice, it was not in the past because of customs and traditions.”

Eleven-year-old Nedal Abu Karsh, who hopes to represent Palestine abroad one day, said he was a quick learner when it came to going fast, “I could totally control the horse,” he said.

But riding coach Ahmad Abed Al-Aal said there was more to the sport than moving quickly. “First you teach the kids to be riders,” he said, emphasizing posture and balance and communication with the horse, “then we branch out into jumping, and move through the different skill levels, from earth mounds, to low bars to straight bar fences and water jumps.”

Abed Al-Aal has been working at the club for five years. He is a certified rider and trainer, and a member of the Palestinian Equestrian Federation, which gives the club the technical ability to send its riders to competitions abroad.

“We participated in competitions abroad. There are a number of horse riders from the club who achieved significant results,” Abed Al-Aal said proudly.

The club will hold its own competition in July, though no international participants are expected, the event will be registered.
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1 ) BEN JABO / ISRAEL/USA
02/07/2010 18:57
I have a serious question

Is Horse Haram or Halal for burgers?

2 ) Shelly / USA
03/07/2010 06:30
Ben--I don't know. It seems from the article they'd rather ride them instead of eating them. Perhaps we read the wrong article...or your just an ignorant Israeli--yeah, that is probably it. Oh, is it kosher to sell human organs in Israel and sell them on the black market? And after deny it?

3 ) BEN JABO / ISRAEL/USA
03/07/2010 15:58
2 ) Shelly / USA

If it was jackass that was in question, then you would have cause to worry

Human organs, you're not in the least danger

4 ) southparkbear / usa
10/07/2010 03:11
oh man I research the quran but maan won't publish my finding

5 ) jennie / NZ
10/07/2010 20:34
Southparkbear ,the Quran is probably a bit like the bible in that for every argument there is an opposing one depending on interpretation. Scholors , ( and maybe you are one ) spend there lives interpreting the holy books and still cant always agree. Maybe maan news felt your scholarly input or ignorant ramblings, or whatever were not constructive. Even if you have the enlightenment millions of people strive for on a daily basis. Now you know how Jesus felt !

6 ) joe / usa
21/07/2010 23:54
Hey folks, I thought this was article was about riding horses
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