Olah saddles up for her new life

Israel does not have much of a reputation in equestrian sports, yet.

Salick 298.88 courtesy (photo credit: )
Salick 298.88 courtesy
(photo credit: )
Israel does not have much of a reputation in equestrian sports - but new immigrant Gabriella Salick may change that. In her 14 years as a professional athlete, Salick has competed in two World Cup Finals for show jumping and on 13 US teams. Born in Thousand Oaks, a suburb of Los Angeles, Salick began training when she was only 10. Salick, 32, who made aliya Wednesday with 220 passengers on a Nefesh b'Nefesh/The Jewish Agency flight, has already established ties with much of Israel's small equestrian community and hopes to soon be participating alongside them to represent Israel to the world. "Israel has a great collection of individuals, but we are now beginning to see the emergence of a cohesive team," said Salick. "There is a history of Zionism in my family and I have always had strong ties to Israel." After taking a hiatus from her professional career when her horse, Sandstone Laurin, injured his pelvis and had to spend over a year recovering in his stall, Salick decided that she would reenter professional sports and make aliya to Israel. "I began studying Talmud and found it fascinating," said Salick who was a Classics major at Columbia University. "I told my fianc about my new interest and about my plans for Israel." That fianc , Tony Award winning actor Robert Sean Leonard, best known for his major role in the movie Dead Poets Society, has not made aliya with Salick, but plans to visit soon. Leonard, who now stars on the hit TV show House M.D. met Salick when the two were at Columbia University. Salick acknowledges there will be much commuting in her future. Less than a week after making aliya, Salick will be visiting Germany, where she and her horse currently train, and Los Angeles, where her family and fianc reside. "I know there is a lot of traveling in my future but I'm ready for it," said Salick. "I'm ready to make Israel my base."