Dani G. Waldman (36) is a professional showjumping rider and probably one of the most remarkable figures in the arena. Her flying feathers do not go unnoticed, but what is the story behind this colorful appearance? Equnews sat down with her to find it all out!
Dani fell in love with horses when she was eight years old. ‘My own family wasn’t into horses at all’, Dani says. ‘At that time, I was actually playing tennis until a friend from school asked me to take a riding lesson with her and so it all started. As a junior, I was riding tens of horses for other people, but once I went to University I kind of took a break from that. Once I graduated, I went straight back into the sport, because I always knew I wanted to be a professional rider. From then on, I committed my life to the horses.
Dani spends a lot of time in Europa as she has her own stable in the Netherlands. ‘Europe is definitely the epicenter of the Equestrian sport. The sport is so big here. Europe is where all the breeding is and where the development of the horses happens. When you look at shows in the US, almost all of the horses who compete at the highest level are imported from Belgium, Holland, Germany, and France.’
Apart from the feathers and exceptional outfits, Dani also translated her creativity in designing her own pieces for Eurostar. ‘I was always creating stuff, but I never saw myself as an artist or anything like that. I do a sport that has zero creativity to it so now I’m kind of trying to find outlets for me to be creative. The feathers and the designing are a way for me to express my identity because within the sport, you are kind of locked into things you have to wear, etc. I wish I could see more people out there, that were doing things a little bit differently. I get that there is tradition, but I wish that it could be less conservative.’
When it comes to personal style, Dani says she finds it hard to describe her own. ‘Some people say that they are minimalist, others are maximalist. I am much more on the maximalist side. I like avant-garde, I like individual pieces that make a bold statement. It also depends on my mood. One day I feel gothic, the other day I feel feminine and girly and wear a floral print dress’, she says.
Women in the industry
We also asked Dani about women’s role in the sport. She says she feels like she needs to prove herself more in the real world, than inside the sport.
‘The fact that men and women compete equally against each other has made it a much more accepting and open environment. I don’t like that there are fewer women at the top of the sport, I would love to see more of them, but there are other causes for that libido-portugal.com/. I don’t feel an equality. There is a difference between men and women. To say that we need to be the same is difficult, some women ride certain horses better than men do, and vice versa. A big guy rode Lizziemary before I did and maybe the fact that I was a smaller woman actually helped. There are strengths to being a woman, and there are weaknesses also. But of course, I love when I kick the guys’ asses’, she says with a smile.
Times change, and so does our sport. But what would Dani like to see changed within the sport in a few years?
‘I would like to see our sport become more commercialized and sportier. I would love to see our governing bodies loosen up on some of the attire restrictions and make it a public-friendly sport as well. I’d love to see it be geared towards the spectators what they want to see, and not so much about sticking to tradition.