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Gaza horse riders compete again as coronavirus curbs eased

The Palestinian Equestrian Federation halted horse-riding classes and local contests in late February as a precaution against the spread of the pandemic – a blow to one of the few sports activities in the congested and impoverished enclave.

Horse riding became popular in Gaza over the past three years. The number of riders – including girls – has grown to 200, according to the federation. Around half of those were taking part on the two-day contest that began on Thursday.

Sami Zeyara, the federation’s assistant secretary-general, said the hiatus would force them to extend the season into early 2021.

“I am very happy to be back to competitions. Together with my horse, Diesel, we hope to come first,” said 12-year-old Hala al-Batrawi.

Contestants were divided in six categories. The most junior group included children under the age of 10, known to many as the “Smurfs.”

“I have worked hard to get back into shape, and I want to prove myself in this competition,” said Mohammad al-Sadi, 16, standing next to his horse Plutonium.

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