A love for horses put differences aside, uniting religions and cultures in the Middle East.
Cultural differences won't keep Middle Eastern horse lovers apart. Equestrians came together for the Arabian National horse show in Alonim, Israel last week.
The crowd differed from European shows in more than just ethnicity. Patrons described themselves as "boisterous"--all for the love of horses.
Muntaha Kahook, a Jerusalem native who splits her time between Jordan and Florida, was at the show. She said:
"When it comes to horses, everyone is family; the love for the horses brings us together."
Chen Kedar, owner of Israel's most prestigious stable, agreed. He said:
"Sometimes we are not as polite as the Europeans shows, but maybe that is better. Everyone is mixing at the tables... People from every background will sit for hours talking about pedigrees."
A table cost around 3,000 shekels at the event, the equivalent of roughly $800 USD.
The funeral for former Israeli president Shimon Peres was held the same day as the opening ceremony for the Arabian show. Kedar reflected fondly on Peres's fight for peace in the region, drawing a parallel to the political leader's sentiments and the dichotomous camaraderie that abounded at the show. Kedar said:
"If [Peres] could see this show today, he would see a taste of his vision come to life here with us today."
The Arabian Nationals was canceled in 2015 due to knife ambushes the month before the show was set to kick off. Tensions seemed to have subsided at least for the duration of this year's show.
However, horses don't cross borders in all directions. Some owners are wary to make the crossing to other Middle Eastern countries for their own safety, while others find the heat during transit to be too stressful for the equines. Still more horses are denied access at border checkpoints due to security reasons.
Nevertheless, the Arabian Nationals show united groups of people that are too often painted as enemies--all thanks to beautiful horses.
All images via The Jerusalem Post.