First woman riding instructor in Palestine: Mayar Al-Ayayda
Mayar Al-Ayayda has broken traditional stereotypes by becoming the first woman riding instructor in Palestine. “Riding a horse makes me feel free.”
Gaza- 20-year-old Mayar Al-Ayayda is one of the women breaking social stereotypes in Palestine. Riding horses since her childhood, she is the first riding instructor in Palestine.
She learned how to take care of horses
Mayar Al-Ayayda’s brother had a stable and she learned how to ride from her brother. “I learned how to ride a horse when I was 12 and then I learned how to take care of horses because I loved horses. I rode horses on the meadows and plains,” she told NuJINHA.
‘Girls feel stronger when they ride horses’
After years, Mayar Al-Ayayda became a riding instructor and now she teaches more than 60 girls how to ride horses and runs the Al-Asmar Stud, which provides services such as renting horses and horse training courses. “There are more than 50 horses at the stud. Every morning, I feed, wash and saddle them and clean the place. I teach girls how to ride horses. Girls feel stronger when they ride horses. I encourage girls to ride horses to overcome their fear.”
‘Women and girls come from other cities to learn’
Although Mayar Al-Ayayda spends long hours working at the stud, she feels happy to be a riding instructor and spend time with horses. “Women and girls from various Palestinian cities come here to learn how to ride horses. Many parents are convinced to send their daughters here when they see that the instructor is a woman. I do my best to break the stereotypes saying that girls and women cannot ride horses. I teach girls and women how to ride horses to break the patriarchal mindset saying that this sport is only for men.”
She faces criticism
Being a woman riding instructor in Palestine brings many criticisms and negative comments due to social customs and traditions. Mayar Al-Ayayda also faces many criticisms. “When I walk, I hear some passers-by saying ‘Go home, your place is your home. Girls and women cannot ride horses’. Despite everything, I never give up. I want to participate in local and international championships to present Palestine. I want to be the source of inspiration for girls and make a difference in their lives.”