Wellington, Florida, USA – January 30, 2021 – Brittni Rafflowitz is an American-born Israeli rider who is a very passionate equestrian. The daughter of Brett and Tracy Raflowitz has been in contact with horses since she was in her mother’s womb. Her dad used to ride and compete, so the passion for horses began at a very young age as a result of the constant interaction with these amazing animals. Equestrian sports run in the veins of the Raflowitz family since her parents are also the founders and owners of Equestrian Services International (ESI – Footing), a company that offers complete equestrian arena development, from arena design, to irrigation, footing installation, arena maintenance and arena grooming equipment. The up-and-coming rider is an entrepreneur herself, being co-owner of ESI Showjumpers with Collie Valdivia.
Although riding had been part of her entire life, she didn’t do much in the hunters at a younger age. However, that did not keep her from having a brilliant career early on, highlighted by the following achievements: 2007 Team Gold at Pony Jumper Finals; 2014 Team Silver at Young Rider Championships; 2015 Team Bronze and Individual Silver at Young Rider Championships.
In 2016, she made the USA Nations Cup Team for Samorin, Slovakia, but unfortunately, her back two weeks before the competition. However, that didn’t keep Raflowitz from fulfilling one of her dreams, so she still went on a six-week tour to Europe and jumped the Nations Cup. After recovering from her injury, she was back to the United States again, partnering with Hilton van de Breepoel to place eleventh in the $380,000 Rolex Grand Prix of Tryon CSI 5*, competing against some of the best combinations in the world in 2017.
A major change took place in 2019, when she changed colors to compete internationally under the Israeli flag. Actually, the important and emotional process had begun in 2017, involving her grandfather as they both went through it together. Sadly, he passed away a year later and she took a step back in getting the Israeli citizenship. They were supposed to have done everything together, so it was quite an emotional experience when she finally made the switch later on. “The first Grand Prix I walked into under our [Israeli) flag was a surreal moment and I definitely got teary eyed, but I knew my grandfather was looking down with the biggest smile and pride”, Brittni states.
Her horse of a lifetime is definitely Hilton Van De Breepoel, the 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Contact vd Heffinck x Opium) giant, who stands 18.2 hands tall and with whom she has flown higher than ever before. “I have a special bond with him that I have never and probably won’t have with any other horse. I started riding him as an extremely difficult 6-year-old and we took each other all the way to five-star level. He’s just turned 14 now, so hopefully we still have a lot more time together. Hilly is the reason why I wake up to go to the barn in the morning. He really is the love of my life.”
Although they are “best friends”, she adds that Hilton has a personality. “Hilly is definitely a special being, hahaha. He can be quite difficult to handle sometimes but if I just give him a look or say his name in a strong tone he knocks it off. He’s like having a kid and attack dog all in one. Whenever I’m having a bad day he finds some way to cheer me up and make me laugh.” Besides Hilly, she would have loved to sit on the likes of Ninja LS, Sapphire, Glocks London, or Rothschild, but none of them match her appreciation for Night Train. “My all time favorite horse I’ve ever had the chance of riding was the amazing Night Train!!! I loved that horse so much!”
After finishing fourth in the $37,000 Horseware Ireland Welcome Stake CSI 2*, she earned a second-place finish in the $73,000 JTWG Grand Prix CSI 2*, both during the same week at Tryon. Her success continued in the second semester of 2020, capping off the year with a fifth-place finish in the $37,000 Spy Coast Farm Grand Prix Qualifier CSI 3* in Wellington, a testament of her continuous progress and hard work.
She points out that Hilton has been in great form. There is an unfamiliar key to his recent outings related to his now famous tack change, which calls the attention of spectators and fellow competitors. Collie Valdivia has played an important role not only in the business aspect of ESI Showjumpers. “My now business partner [Collie Valdivia] made the rope bit with just a leather chin strap some years ago and gave it to me because he saw I was having some flatting problems with Hilly.
Ever since then it had been his flat bit. This year, I was having a hard time trying to find the right show bit for him again. Randomly one day I decided to jump him in the rope (we’ve now named the BV Bit). He was a totally different animal jumping in this set up!! He was less stiff at the base of his neck, shoulders, back, and he wasn’t having bad breathing problems anymore.”
Having had a lot of experience despite her young age, competing against much older professionals, Raflowitz has advice for young riders: “Keep your head down and keep putting in your work everyday. Never think you can’t do it and never let someone tell you that you can’t do it. As someone once told me “ Just focus on riding well and the results will follow. – Barney Ward
The main goal in her career right now is to have a successful year and continue improving, striving to represent team Israel well, and hopefully one day participate in Nations Cup Finals, European Championships, World Cup Finals, and the Olympics. She is currently in Wellington, competing her “gentle grand prix giant” Hilly in the CSI 3* classes and also showing ESI Show Jumpers’ wide range of sale horses and catch rides too during the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
Brittni is the face of many young riders around the world who are in pursuit of flying higher and going faster, making the challenging transition to international level with their horse of a lifetime, a role model to many aspiring equestrians. Go Brittni, go Hilton!
Source: Brittni Raflowitz / FEI – Fédération Equestre Internationale / Jumper News / PBIEC – Palm Beach International Equestrian Center
Photos: © Britnni Raflowitz / Sportfot / The Book