Ripon High sophomore Breanna Brocchini has qualified for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association’s Hunt Seat Nationals in Syracuse, New York April 20-22.
The 16-year-old outclassed nearly a dozen teen riders in regional qualifying meets in Southern California during competition in hunt seat riding that’s judged mostly on presentation and all done on unfamiliar mounts.
Hunt seat riding is style of English riding described as “forward seat riding” and is “based on the tradition of fox hunting.” The rider is judged on position, neatness of attire and how well the rider can control her horse. While riding hunt seat equitation, only the rider is judged, while jumping or on the flat.
The two earlier competitions held in Los Angeles were actually precursor trials in a camp setting that taught the young riders what to expect in future competitions and to determine who would go on to the New York finals.
“The camp was a really good experience with horses we didn’t know, making many friends and having meaningful experiences through the Interscholastic Equestrian Association’s program (IEA),” she said.
In the IEA no rider needs to own a horse and the training and competition is open to public and private schools and barn teams from student riders in grades 6-12.
The program was for both middle school and high school riders centered on what was described as their regional “Barn” in Castro Valley’s Zone 10. She noted that all the middle school competitors went on to the finals but she was the only representative from the high school class of students, who finished in the top three riders after independent judging that elevated her to the zone level and then on to the Nationals.
“It was tough competition for sure,” she said. “Everybody tried really hard.”
Breanna is the granddaughter of the matriarch of the Brocchini family, the late Rina Brocchini. She recalls being with her grandmother when she was very young in her Ripon home being shown how to cook risotto, “with a lot of butter,” and getting to taste the results.
“She also had coffee lollipops she would give me,” she said.
The Ripon High sophomore was first introduced to horses by a friend of her mother’s — Roberta Andretti — in Colusa County where the friend was breeding and raising Arabians.
“She would let me go out with my mom and sit on them and play with them,” she recalled.
Breanna started riding English style mounts when she was 7. The horses being more about presentation and western styling, the teen added. The “Hunter” competition is all about the looks of the horse and its perfection in its jumps and rides, she further noted.
Her early association with horses and all kinds of animals pretty much set the stage for her life.
She recalled that another person who really encouraged her was another friend of her mother’s, Tricia Murphy, at Heather Ridge Farms in Texas when she was going through some rough times and learning to ride.
“She acted as my Guardian Angel when times were difficult but never let me give up my passion for riding,” Breanna noted
There are two horses in her life now in Ripon, Albert and Tornado. Albert is named after her Grandfather Brocchini and Tornado is retired – she got him from Texas. He has become a teacher’s horse used in educating kids how to ride and build up their confidence in the saddle.
Breanna teaches youngsters during the summers in Livermore with another high school student, Ruby Sabine.
Family members have paid for her flight to New York. She will be flying along with her whole middle school team of competitors.
Breanna maintains a 4.1 grade point average.