For American-born show jumper Danielle Goldstein, it was never a question of whether she would compete for Israel, but when. Determined to become the first Israeli show jumper to compete at the Olympic Games, Goldstein is well on her way to making her dreams come true, winning the €300,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Cascais in July, and a few weeks later, placing in the top 10 individually at the FEI European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Based at Waldman Horses in Putten, The Netherlands, the 32-year-old has been under the watchful coaching eye of Helena Stormanns for the past two years. With Stormanns’ expertise, Goldstein has assembled a bigger team of support and developed a strong string of horses to bring her to the top of her game, thanks in large part to mounts Lizziemary (Cabri D’Elle x Amanda Lear) and Caspar 213 (Cornet Obolensky x Aristo Carts).

We caught up with Goldstein to learn more about how she’s bonded with her chestnut super-mare, what it’s really like to change nationalities, and her future goals for Team Israel.

1. NF Style: You bought Lizziemary in October of 2016 from Billy Twomey. What has been the process of developing a relationship with her?

Danielle Goldstein: It was kind of quick. The trial was very short and simple—we didn’t even jump more than 1.25m or 1.30m. We jumped a few jumps and it just seemed like a good match right off the bat. We got her in the stable, I had her for a few days, and then we went down to Vilamoura. We jumped a couple of small classes the first week and then the second week, we jumped the grand prix and won the class. The following week, we went to Oliva, and we were second in the grand prix.

“[Lizziemary] comes out the same every day—works hard, always jumps the same. For me, she’s my perfect kind of horse.”

We clicked almost immediately. Then we sort of back-tracked a little bit—not that it went poorly, but I wanted to take it very slow to make sure we built up a really solid partnership. We built it up smoothly and then started the Global Champions Tour shortly after Wellington. We kept going up from there. It’s random and weird that it happened so perfectly. It just gets better and better.

2. What kind of horse is Lizziemary?

She’s quite a tall horse and has a really kind personality—she’s quite [simple but] she’s a lot of horse underneath you. She’s strong and powerful…but she’s gentle and sweet and doesn’t do anything scary or dangerous. She has a lot of blood and is sensitive, so you have to work with her, but she wants to do the job. She comes out the same every day—works hard, always jumps the same. For me, she’s my perfect kind of horse.

3. What’s it like working with Helena Stormanns?

I started working with Helena two years ago. I brought her in because I felt like I was at that stage where I needed to pull it all together. She’s really helped and has made a tremendous difference. Especially the last six to eight months, I feel like we’ve made a lot of big improvements. It all clicked and came together—Helena was very instrumental in having that happen.

My biggest weakness was sticking to my plan. I was a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kind of rider. I would make a plan, then change it, and then my execution wasn’t very good. With Helena, we’ve worked hard on executing a plan and I can say at Europeans, it really came together. We finished the week and I said to her, ‘Look, we did a whole week, and every single round I executed the plan!’

4. You switched nationalities in 2010 to represent Israel. What was the process like and how do you plan on making history for Israeli equestrian?

In my mind, I was always going to ride for Israel. The process of actually getting the citizenship happened after I graduated from college and when I got into the sport professionally. The reason I never represented the United States on a senior team is because for me, it was always going to be for Israel. I finally changed in 2010, but had to wait one year due to an FEI rule. Once I started to represent Israel, the goal was to try and do the major championships and one day go to the Olympics. I get a lot of phone calls about people wanting to represent Israel now. I was certainly not the first one to do it, but I was very vocal when I did switch. For me, it was always really personal, so it’s nice to broaden it and help other people change.

“For me, since I was a little kid, all I’ve ever wanted to do is go and ride in the Olympics and win a medal.”

5. You’ve had great success so far this year with a win at LGCT Estoril and a top-10 finish at Europeans. What’s next?

It’s hard, when you do all the big, five-star shows, you can only take two horses and you’re gone most of the time. Every time I come home, I feel like I need to do the other horses, so I will bring them to some small local shows. We’re making a plan now—it’s hard, you need a lot of horses. It’s great having Lizzie and Caspar, but it’s hard going to shows week after week with only two at the high level.

I’m hoping we do the World Cup, but I can’t say that for sure. For the winter, the plan is to go to Wellington. We have WEG next summer which is very exciting because, by that time, Daniel Bluman will be able to represent Israel on the team. There are a few others in the pipeline so we may have a very strong team going into WEG—that’s a big thing for next summer. Then, of course, the Olympics. For me, since I was a little kid, all I’ve ever wanted to do is go and ride in the Olympics and win a medal. For sure, that’s on the horizon.

 Photo credit: Ifat Zohar (3); Thomas Reiner (2).