A “jump” in the right direction

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KINGSTON, R.I. – October 2, 2012 – Mariel Saccucci, is seeking a master of business administration from the University of Rhode Island, but she is already a master equestrienne. “I have been in love with riding since I was eight years old, where I was introduced to the idea of it at a summer camp,” said Saccucci. She had a great success with the URI Equestrian team for two years, but then decided to compete individually. The move changed her life.

In 2010, she won the New England Championship in the 18- to 22-year old age group and was the high scorer for all ages over 18. This year, she won the Connecticut Hunter Jumper Association Adult Medal Finals and the high score award for all ages. Then, she earned first place in the Massachusetts Hunter Jumper Finals for ages 18 through 29 followed by a victory in the Rhode Island Adult Championships. Her successes throughout the season gave her a berth in the national championships in Marlboro, M.D. “When I found out I qualified for Nationals I was ecstatic. All of my hard work has finally paid off,” said Saccucci. Saccucci finished the year ranked 15th, nationally and will compete for the Ariat National Adult Medal on Oct. 5. Saccucci said, “I think a lot of my success has come from hard work, and an excellent trainer. I have ridden many horses over the years and I really get along with most of them because I like to ride them the way they want to be ridden. Horses have personalities and preferences just like people.”

Horses are what initially drew Saccucci to this sport. “I just fell in love with the sport and everything that came with it. I love the horses, the lessons, the technicality involved with trying to partner with a 1000 lb+ animal! It was just a world that I fit into far better than tennis and ballet and I am so thankful to have found a passion like this at eight years old. Riding is such an integral part of my life that I couldn’t imagine spending my time any other way. I never felt that “aha” moment with the other sports and activities I tried until I found riding. And to still feel that way about the sport to this day is so rewarding.”

Success is nothing new to Saccucci. She posted a 3.78 GPA as an undergraduate and earned her bachelor’s degree from the College of Business Administration with summa cum laude honors. Saccucci explained, “My two passions are riding and academics so it didn’t really feel like I was working that hard to balance both. Although I often had some scheduling conflicts with traveling to horse shows, I always maintained good relationships with my professors so I wouldn’t fall behind. Many of them were actually very supportive and excited for me when I explained why I had to miss class sometimes.” Saccucci is currently working towards her MBA at URI while maintaining a full time graduate assistantship, which will finish in 2014.

With such a successful riding career, some might see the Olympics in her future. “No, I have never considered the Olympics as a path of my riding because it involves more time, dedication, and resources than I currently have,” said Saccucci.

“I often equate this question of whether I will pursue the Olympics to something like playing in the PGA tour if you are a great golfer or riding in the Tour de France as a competitive bike rider. The Olympics are on that level of competition and require serious commitment. Also, remember that the Olympics involve both rider and horse, so the horse must be an Olympic athlete too.”

What is in the future for Saccucci’s bright riding career? “I would be honored and so proud to win nationals. I would also love to enter a new discipline of riding and go more toward the timed jumpers division,” said Saccucci.

This press release was written by Tess Povar, an intern in URI’s Department of Communication and Marketing and a public relations and communication studies major.

Pictured above

CHJA Finals- Saccucci sitting proud on her winning horse at the Connecticut Hunter Jumper Medal Finals at Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport, CT.

Saccucci jumping for a victory at the Rhode Island Equitation Championship in Portsmouth, R.I.

Photos submitted by Mariel Saccucci