Rearing in dust
Published by The Guardian
In spite of the challenges posed by conflict, a devoted community of breeders in the West Bank is revitalizing the legacy of the Arabian horse - a breed deeply intertwined with their cultural identity. Over the last two decades, this industry has rapidly grown and developed, challenging the long-standing monopoly held by Israeli breeding programs.
Seasoned and established breeders view the Arabian horse breeding industry as a symbol of prestige and profit, aiming to produce the ultimate champion for top beauty contests or to sell at premium prices. For the less fortunate, owning and raising these magnificent animals is a matter of social status and pride. They often keep them in small stables, fighting against the risk of demolition by Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem's Palestinian neighborhoods.
These breeders rise above limited resources, infrastructure and shortage of local skilled professionals, overlaying culture, art, and genetics to shape their Arabian horses which were once the pride of Arab Bedouin tribes, relied upon for their speed, endurance, and beauty to survive in the harsh desert environment.
Horse riding clubs are becoming a popular form of recreation, providing an escape from the harsh reality of daily life and a chance to experience a sense of freedom amidst the challenging circumstances.
The Palestinian breeders face significant barriers in the Arabian horse breeding industry, as it is largely controlled by Israeli breeders who invest vast sums of money in their breeding programs. However, these determined breeders refuse to be deterred and are relying on their expertise and passion to create a thriving breeding industry that can rival their Israeli competitors. Their hope is not only to support their families but also to preserve this cherished tradition for future generations.