Jogging in the early morning of May 17 on the Mesila (Train Track) Park path in the South Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa, Andrea Krogmann suddenly heard neighing.
And then she saw a white Arabian horse trotting up the street with a rope dangling from its halter. It was heading in the direction of the industrial center at Talpiot.
“I was expecting to see an Arab youth riding it, but then I saw it had no rider,” Krogmann said.
“I decided to turn around because a horse on the street is something very dangerous, and I wanted to try to catch it,” said the German immigrant, who grew up around horses and feels comfortable handling them.
“Usually a horse is faster than a person, but when I reached a little bridge about a kilometer down the road, it kind of changed direction and slowed down, so I simply grabbed the rope. And once I had the rope, I grabbed the halter to have better control.”
She first tried jogging alongside the horse, but she sensed that this was encouraging a competitive spirit, and she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to keep up if the horse began trotting. So she slowed down and walked the horse back to Beit Safafa, a neighborhood where Jewish and Arab children learn one another’s language and culture at the Hand in Hand bilingual school.
“It was a rather young and energetic horse and seemed to be in a playful mood, not aggressive but very powerful,” she said.
Having lived in Jerusalem’s Old City for 10 years, Krogmann speaks some Arabic and hoped the unusual spectacle of a jogger and a white horse would attract the attention of someone who knew the owner.
“Eventually we made it to the area where I assumed he escaped. We walked up and down the street, all shutters of all houses still closed, when a young Palestinian jumped out of his car,” she reported in a post on the Secret Jerusalem Facebook page.
“How did you catch him and how the hell did you manage to walk him here? Only my father manages with him!” the young man said.
She asked him if he was afraid of the horse, and he nodded yes. “See, the horse senses it,” Krogmann explained.
He asked her to hold the horse while he summoned his father, Taher. “His Hebrew/English was as bad as my Arabic. But his smile was worth a thousand words,” Krogmann reported.
“Moments later I found myself on the back of his beautiful horse, smiling like Taher, and promising I would pop by another time (and not in the shortest running tights and a tank top cropped at the belly) for a coffee.”
But in quiet Beit Safafa, all that mattered was a beautiful white horse that had lost its way and come back home.
Krogmann does not jog with her phone, so there is no photographic evidence of her adventure. But Jerusalem resident Hagai Meltzer, who was running that same morning on the path, verified what happened.
“I saw her with the horse, and I know her. We chatted for a few minutes. She said it ran away, and she was trying to take it back home,” the jeweler recalls.
Also, a resident of the adjacent neighborhood of Pat reported that this wasn’t the first time the white horse had run loose in the area.
Even without a physical picture to remember her story by, the image and the good feeling remain with Krogmann.
“The smile stayed on my lips for the rest of my day, and even all bad news about violence, conflict and hatred that dominate the region … could not erase it completely,” Krogmann said on her post, adding a red heart for emphasis.