Brittni Raflowitz has done a lot in a short period of time.
The 23-year-old international show jumper accrued plenty of medals as a junior. As Brittni aged out of Young Riders, she went on to compete at the grand prix level. In 2016, she represented her country for the first time at a Nations Cup in Europe after securing a spot on the USEF Development Tour.
Now more than two years later, Brittni soldiers on. She’s developing young horses and competing among the best of the best up and comers in the grand prix ring.
But unlike many of her peers, Brittni doesn’t have a high-profile trainer standing ringside as she jumps around at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington. She’s doing all the work – from the training at home to the horse show circuit – on her own.
“For the most part, I do everything by myself,” says Brittni. “I really couldn’t tell you what the difference is because I’ve never been in somebody’s program. That means I have to plan my own stuff, and do all the things on my own that a ‘program’ would normally do for you.”
It’s a fairly unconventional path for a 20-something American show jumper with Olympic dreams. Stars of the sport, like Beezie Madden and McLain Ward, have a dozen or so young riders in their keep, coaching them as they rise the ranks. It’s a fairly common arrangement in America, for young riders to train and compete with a dedicated farm and trainer, at least in the hunter/jumper world.
But Brittni’s chosen a different path.
“This is supposed to be a ‘breath of fresh air’ period in my life,” Brittni describes, about her ability to compete her horses at all. ” I’m mostly trying to mentally keep my mind calm and not to get worked up about things.”
I have to plan my own stuff, and do all the things on my own that a ‘program’ would normally do for you.
A few other grand prix riders have been known to ride on their own and not necessarily under the constant tutelage of a trainer. Israel’s Danielle Goldstein was one of them, though she’s recently opted to train with her now fiance, Alan Waldman, among other coaches.
Brittni isn’t arrogant enough to think she doesn’t need guidance or help along the way.
“I do get some help in the grand prix ring from Missy Clark. She’s helped me a lot. It’s a good dynamic between the two of us,” she explains. “Mostly I just send her videos when I’m stumped on something and we talk back and forth. Or sometimes I’ll call someone to come walk the course with me.”
Brittni uses Missy’s coaching as a way to make little fixes to improve her position or to unlock a minor problem with her horse.
“She’ll remind me when I should be riding in my half-seat, and to stop sitting down,” Brittni cites as an example. “Or if I’m getting stuck in my own head, she helps me get out of it and breathe a little bit.”
At the end of the day, riding on her own has helped give Brittni confidence, she says. It’s taught her to trust her instincts and to believe in herself.