Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
60° Rockville, MD
The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

Nathan celebrates after breaking the school record for the 3,200 meter race. Used with permission from Nathan Szubin.
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Reining it in

Eighth grader Caitlyn Levitan practices her skills by leading her horse through obstacles. Photo by Natalie Levitan, used with permission.

With over 100,000 horses, Maryland has more horses per square mile than any other state. So, it’s no surprise that CESJDS students and even faculty can be found on horseback when they’re not at school.

Eighth-grader Caitlyn Levitan has been riding horses since she was four years old, and she currently rides at Bascule in Poolesville, Maryland.

“My favorite part of the sport is having a bond with the horse and being able to have such a great connection with a completely different animal,” Levitan said. “It’s just kind of magical to me.”

There are different styles of riding, and each requires a different skill set. Two of the most popular styles are English and Western, both entailing different saddles and ways of holding reins.

Freshman Noam Miller, who has been riding for two years, moved from Israel to Maryland last summer and had to switch riding styles. He rode Western style in Israel but learned English style when he started riding in America. It was a hard adjustment for him, but the instructors at his new barn, Potomac Horse Center, were very supportive and helpful to him as he learned the new style.

Levitan rides in many disciplines. She does eventing, which includes show jumping, dressage and cross country. Show jumping is where horses and riders will jump over various heights, dressage is having a horse perform sequences of trained movements and cross country is a speed and agility course to test a horse and riders’ endurance. Levitan does shows within her barn, but hasn’t competed in any recognized shows yet.

Students aren’t the only people riding; Middle School Executive Assistant Elizabeth Polit rode for around 25 years, but stopped around ten years ago. She has fond memories of riding, but one of her favorite experiences was bonding with the horses she rode.

“Sometimes I’d go out to the barn, and I had a lesson and at the end [it’d] just be me and the horse… I’d just lay back on the horse, just relax under the stars and just let him trot wherever he wanted to,” Polit said.

While there are so many positives of horseback riding, many consider it to be a dangerous sport. Almost all riders hurt themselves at some point, including Polit and Levitan who have both suffered multiple injuries.

“If you never fall off, then you’re doing something wrong,” Polit said.

Despite the dangers to the sport, those committed to riding enjoy it.

There are many riding stables in Montgomery County, and they are accessible online.

“I would find a place that I feel like my coach is good and I have a connection with the horses…,” Miller said. “It really depends on where you are and where they really help you.”

Most riders ride at least twice a week in order to get the practice they need.

Though riding can be a big commitment, enthusiasts believe that it has taught  them  skills that can be applied to everyday life that can help improve self-confidence.

“You’re gonna fail sometimes, but what’s important is that you just try again, and you keep trying over and over until you get it,” Levitan said.

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Lindsey Shapiro
Lindsey Shapiro, Reporter

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