Who would have thought, in a country barely the size of New Jersey and located in the Middle East, that there is a flourishing performance horse scene that even includes a cutting group which shows five times a year?
Sarig Brosh has been training horses for over 20 years. His student, Yafit Junker, has been riding horses for six years.
“I took my first riding lesson six years ago, and about a year later I was brought to Brosh to make him laugh….I find cutting as addictive and progressive. I started with a frequency of once a week and very soon it became my everyday routine,” Junker said.
Junker purchased a horse and very soon one horse turned into three and now Junker is a lifer in all things horses and a cutter to boot.
Her trainer Brosh spent two years in the United States learning about training horses. One year of that was spent breaking colts and roping, and another year learning to train cutting horses from Terry Harlen from Texas.
“Terry was a great teacher,” Brosh said.
Brosh then spent some time in Europe learning about reining and more about cutting. Brosh has also shown in Europe in multiple disciplines. He works 10 to 12 horses daily and is happy to say he does get to train horses for a living at his ranch in Alonim, Israel.
There are four cutting trainers in Israel and similar to Europe, reining is the bigger sport. There are over twenty western horse trainers in Israel including cutting, reining, extreme cowboy, all around, and pleasure.
Long time student, Junker speaks highly of her trainer Brosh.
“He’s like a psychiatrist” she said.
Junker appreciates how Brosh lets the horse show him what they like and how they move and trains horses within their own personality and style. Junker sees horses blossom under his methods like her own five year old, Smart Little Nijomi or “Goldie” who is a grand daughter of Peptoboonsmal, out of Sunny Holiday (“Nomi”).
Junker said she is every trainer’s dream because she gives them free rein to train her horses. She is adamant that only Brosh ride her horse. She purchased Goldie from Brosh as a yearling, so she has enjoyed watching the partnership grow.
Junker said Goldie is “very smart and has a lot of character.”
Sunny Holiday is a special horse for Junker. One of her most memorable runs was aboard the mare. Both Junker and “Nomi” were not feeling their best before a show. “Nomi” had hoof problems and Junker had a splitting headache. After a farrier adjustment, some pain relief for the rider and plenty of heart to show, the pair went on to have their best run ever, marking a 72.
There are five cutting shows per year, most of which take place at Double K Ranch in northern Israel. On average there are sixty runs per show. The shows are all run under the Israeli Equestrian Federation. The classes are usually the Open, Novice Premium and Novice Premium Non-Pro, Limited Non-Pro, and Platinum Non-Pro.
They also have a youth class, a rookie class and a rookie +40 which does not penalize two hands. There is another Novice and Novice Non – Pro class that is judged by the rules of cow horse herd work so the horse can be shown with two hands or one or in a snaffle bit or bosal.
They don’t have the numbers for regular aged events. Although about ten years ago they did have a Futurity class. Often Brosh will use the novice class as a practice for the young horses focusing on herd work with no reining points counted against the rider.
Brosh said that the main difference between cutting in Israel and cutting in the US is the availability of cattle. In the US, a trainer can get 70 cattle for two months. In Israel, it’s 10 to 30 cattle for three to four months. The most common breeds are Brahman and Brahmans mixed with Hereford and more recently some Angus.
Brosh said he prefers the Brahmans because they are wild and they stay fresh longer. When Brosh is done with the heifers they
usually go back to the owner to produce the next generation of cattle. If you’re curious about buffalo, Brosh said that they don’t work them! Israel has European buffalo but he said they are very different to North American breeds.
The Israeli cutters don’t do much with the NCHA since the numbers don’t add up. Brosh is hoping to grow the sport of cutting and then bring the NCHA in. To show more than five times per year, the horse must be flown to Europe on Israeli Airlines. Junker’s mare Sunny Holiday was born in Texas and flown to Israel as a young horse.
For the trainers in Israel to advance their horsemanship, they bring judges over from Europe to teach clinics and judge their shows. One year they flew Scott Ferguson out to judge a show and do a clinic, but flying judges from the States can be expensive.
Brosh’s Ranch is similar to any cutting operation with a large round pen for working cows as well as a large arena to lope in. There is no need for a covered arena because the winters are pretty mild. They also have a mechanical cow.
Originally, Quarter Horses were imported from the States. Brosh brought a two year old stallion over after he returned from Texas. Now Israel boasts some well bred, cutting horses. At Brosh’s best estimate, 70% of the cutting horses are bred in Israel. Breeders in Israel have access to a Dual Rey stud, a Gray Starlight stud, and a Sophisticated Cat stud as well as a son of Smart Lil Ricochet. They do not have any Metallic Cat studs yet, though they are hopeful for one! They do have a Metallic Cat mare as well as some Peppy San Badger mares.
Junker has enjoyed learning from the DVDs offered on CHTO. She has especially enjoyed the Paul Hansma and Matt Gaines DVDs. She appreciates the similarities between Hansma and Brosh, how they read horses and how positive the training atmosphere is.
by Sophia Skeith
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