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Palestinian women horseback riders break social taboos

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Published on Mar 5, 2012

An all women equestrian team has been training at a local riding center in the West Bank to compete against male participants.

The riding center, Jericho Equestrian Club, launched competitions for both male and female equestrians to compete.

Hasan Bazlamit, the executive director of the club and a qualified instructor, helps women on their skills including balance and obstacle jumping.

"We decided, as a Palestinian state and Palestinian sport union, to form a Palestinian equestrienne team just like other countries. We know now that Arab and European women are successful equestriennes like their male counterparts and even children riders around the world," he said.

The riding center is the first in the region to launch a women team and break from social taboos. Palestinian women are enthusiastic about the challenge.

Nihaya Awadallah, an eight-year-old from Jerusalem, is the youngest female in the team, already winning a number of awards from local races. She inherited her love for horses from her mother.

"Since I was young, I have wished for an equestrian team in Palestine. I am trying to work on this for my daughter and all the children in Palestine," said Awadallah's mother, Hadeel Sayyad.

Another rider Wala Ghaith said she began this new hobby a couple months ago and is grateful for her trainer helping her develop her skills.

Around 30 women from the West Bank and Jerusalem train at the stadium where they compete with men in internal shows.

The Jericho Equestrian Club was founded in 1997 under the patronage of former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.


By: Nadia Idriss Mayen
Al Arabiya with Agencies

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