Many people know Danielle Goldstein as the show jumper who wears a colorful cascade of feathers in her hair and often rides in yoga pants instead of breeches. Without question, she stands out in the ring, and her unique look has garnered media attention and fans worldwide. But following her recent win in the $391,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix CSI5* at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, “Dani’s” choice of dress sparked a fervent discussion on social media.
Dani and her mare Lizziemary had won this division for the second consecutive year — a proud moment for the Israeli rider. And as articles lauding their achievements published and excited social media posts blasted off, a public conversation also began, much of which revolved around Dani's appearance. Lengthy threads questioned her white show coat and debated about her vibrant feathers. The argument gained remarkable steam, with the feather fans pushing back against those who felt Dani’s accessories were a safety hazard or an insult to the traditions of show jumping.
In response, Dani herself made a video post on Instagram, stating that many of the comments bordered on cyberbulling and that they are simply “not necessary.”
“No one should feel bad about choices they make that make them feel good about themselves. I wear my feathers because I feel great about them. I love them,” Dani said. “Our sport is deeply conservative. But I’m not. And the sport doesn’t have to be that way.”
“It’s good to be different. Embrace individuality. Embrace that difference. There is no reason that we all need to look the same,” she continued. “Stay the course, be true to who you are. … Promote kindness and individuality and feel good about yourself. That will reflect in your results in the sport and everything else you do in life.”
Dani’s teammate Daniel Bluman also made a statement in response to the social media comments about Dani, lifting her up as an inspiration and role model.
“I love Dani because I think she is an extraordinary example to the world and inspiration to the new generations. Dani does what she loves, does it the way that makes her happy, without doing any damage or hurting anyone, and does not care at all what people think or who approves or disapproves,” Daniel wrote in a post on Facebook. “Life is about enjoying and making it as fun as possible for you and others. Diversity is healthy. Being different is alright.”
The equestrian world is an incredibly unique space, where people from all walks of life come together over a shared passion for horses. These animals do not judge us for how we look, walk, talk, or dress. They only respond to how we treat them. And if we treat them with kindness and respect, they return it to us in spades. We should do the same for each other. Being nice is the simplest thing in the world.
Last month we shared a story about the Kindness Movement, a social media initiative that encourages equestrians to stand up to bullying and spread kindness. Though this movement was generated by a teenager, it is applicable to all ages. We encourage you to read it, share it, and remember its message. Take a stand against cyberbullying and be the change you wish to see.
Here at NF, we applaud individuality and embrace uniqueness. And for the record — we love Dani’s feathers.
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Feature photo by Sportfot.
Written by Leslie Threlkeld
Having grown up on horseback, Leslie Threlkeld, Managing Editor at NOËLLE FLOYD, treasures her career in the equestrian industry as a writer, photographer, and eventing technical delegate. Leslie thrives on frequent travel but never tires of returning home to the serene mountains of North Carolina.