Peacock Equestrian Center: Orange County Facility Offers Excellent Trainers from Several Disciplines

by Cheryl Erpelding

Peacock Equestrian Center is one of Orange County’s finest equestrian facilities. This month we are featuring dressage trainer Raquel Santos, hunter/jumper Brandee Hassett, and master horseman Clay Harper.

Dressage Trainer Raquel Santos

“Horses have always been a part of my life. My father Carlos Santos, who is an FEI dressage trainer, was born and raised in Portugal, in the heartland of Lusitanos. As a child, I would scramble after school, weekend mornings just to join him, and try to get on anything that he would allow me on.”

“He started his business with his talent of taking on problem horses and re-establishing their foundation, and giving them a second chance. My dad found a wild Welsh/Arabian pony that had gone through multiple trainers, and she became my first horse. That’s when I fell deeply in love with Dressage.”

Raquel Santos Photo: Terri Miller Photography

“I wanted to take my riding to the next level and was looking for a working student position. I found that at top international dressage riders’ Coby and Marlies Van Baalen’s yard in the Netherlands. When I arrived, I got to see and hop on some superb horses that exemplified dressage.”

“When I came back to California in 2019, I opened and started my business back in Los Angeles. With my hard work ethic, and meeting the right people, slowly, I built a little training program where I have been able to show all around the SoCal area. My training program consists of Iberian and Warmbloods.”

“My philosophy is that every horse is like a different language. My training program is pretty fluid for every horse because, I believe like people, each horse has a different learning style. It’s just my job to figure out what that is. I’m enjoying building my training and sales barn at Peacock Hill”

Raquel Santos

Robin BiSogno shared this about Raquel:

“As a client of Raquel’s and the owner of Peacock Hill Equestrian Center, I have known her only since November of 2022. While interviewing for a new dressage trainer last summer. Raquel impressed me as an extremely talented rider and humble individual. I have two, young, green horses and she has managed in a short time to bring out the best in each of them.”

“Raquel is a lifelong horse enthusiast that I have found to be quite likable, professional, hard-working, and truly cares for all the horses in her program. She has moved from LA to Orange County to build her business and is motivated to bring in a small number of clients that will fit in her program and our close-knit family of boarders and trainers.”

“We have a unique facility located at 1 Irvine Park Road, in Orange, which is home to approximately 100 horses on 10 acres with access to 490 acres of wilderness trials. This is our piece of paradise and we are blessed to have Raquel join our team. I am looking forward to a winning future in the field of dressage with Raquel aboard my two horses.”

To learn more about Raquel visit, or call/text 310-293-3682.

Hunter/Jumper Trainer Brandee Hassett

Brandee Hassett has been riding almost her entire life. She started when was just five years old and has not slowed down since. Growing up she has had the opportunity to ride under and learn from some of the best in the business. Some of the clinics that she has attended include those by Greg Best, Anne Kursinski, George Morris, Frank Madden, Bernie Traurig, and Peter Leone. While she now is an accomplished equestrian with a business of her own, she still desires to continue growing and learning from other top riders. She understands that to be the best, you can never stop learning. She also encourages her clients to participate in clinics and take advantage of learning opportunities that come their way.

Brandee Hassett Photo: Captured Moment Photography

Brandee earned her professional status in 2011. For years, she worked as a rider and assistant trainer. In 2021, she decided to start her own training business, Brandee Hassett Equestrian, Inc. at Peacock Hill Equestrian Center. She specializes in hunters, jumpers, equitation, and medals. She has a passion for teaching riders of all abilities and helping them develop up through the competitive levels, and she also enjoys working with young and project horses. Throughout her career, Brandee has had the opportunity to purchase green horses and then start them, train them, show them, and sell them as wonderful junior or amateur horses. She has the fantastic ability to meet both rider and horse where they are at.

Brandee Hassett Photo: Captured Moment Photography

While Brandee loves the teaching and training part of the business, she is also a fierce competitor. She gives it her all when in the show ring and expects her horses to do the same. Her dedication, discipline, and determination have served her well throughout her career. Some of Brandee’s accomplishments include PCHA Year-End Champion 2007 Overall Children’s Jumper Champion; PCHA Year-End Champion 2007 Overall Children’s Jumper Champion; Marshal Sterling Finals, New York Winter, 2007 Champion Children’s Jumper Final; Thunderbird, Canada Winter, 2008 Multiple Junior Jumper championships; Blenheim Oaks 2000-2010 Multiple hunter championships- junior/amateur hunter classes/classics through regular working hunters; HITS Tucson Winter Circuit Winter, 2010 Multiple top ribbons Tucson Grand Prix. However, it is not just about the blue or championship ribbon for Brandee. She knows that having fun and enjoying the horse is what it’s about. Perhaps, this is what makes Brandee such a great trainer and instructor. Above all else, she loves and appreciates the horse and what they allow us to do.

To reach Brandee Hassett call or text 714-290-2060, or email

Master Horseman Clay Harper

Clay Harper is a Master Horseman who has trained horses of all breeds and disciplines around the world over the past 50 years. Clay began working on ranches as a teenager, as well as riding bareback broncs in the rodeo circuit throughout the West. He has achieved several Horse Training Certifications over the past 30 years, learning all aspects of Gentle Training Techniques that he uses today in his quest to help horses find their peace. Clay has been training and fixing horses in Southern California for the past 10 years, earning the trust of most of Southern California’s Veterinarians. He is recommended by them as, “The trainer who can fix any issues with your horse.” Clay truly understands horses. Horses understand and learn to trust Clay easily and completely. Clay says he doesn’t call himself a trainer and he states that he has, “never had a horse he couldn’t fix.

Clay is very proud of his work at the Newport Academy where he help troubled youth become better humans through working and learning about horses.” Clay›s philosophy is the secret to living is giving. And that his purpose in life is to be of service.

Robyn Ethridge of Newport Academy shared: “It is my absolute pleasure to work alongside the one and only Clay Harper. A few words come to mind when trying to convey the heart of this man, which are only words, as one must be in his presence to truly understand the depth of his passion for helping horses and humans. Kind, patient, humble, honest, caring, and a skilled natural horsemanship clinician are but a brief description of who Clay is.”

Clay Harper. Photography By Annie MacAller

“Clay has been a valued asset of our equine team here at Newport Academy for about 5 years. He facilitates our Equine Learning and Leadership component for our adolescent mental health residential treatment program. Clay impacts up to 78 teenagers a week during these sessions where he teaches natural horsemanship techniques along with life skills such as boundaries, confidence, self-awareness, respect, empathy, overcoming fears, and teamwork. Whether it is a teen needing encouragement or a horse who needs calming down and reassurance, Clay has a natural ability to know what is needed for any given situation. Clay’s heart of service has had such an important influence on the teens, that many go out of their way to shake his hand and thank him at the end of their stay.”

“In addition to facilitating the Equine Learning and Leadership sessions, Clay has been our advisor and consultant developing enrichment exercises for the horses ensuring a safe environment for the horse as well as safety during the sessions.

Clay Harper is much more than a horseman who understands the motives, needs, and desires of the horse, he is an all-around great person who sincerely cares about others more than himself. He has a way of bringing out the best in those around him whether it is a horse or a human. You would be blessed to have a chance to meet him in person and see for yourself.”

Clay is sponsored by: Wrangler, Ironclast, Total Equine, and Performance Built Saddles. To reach Clay Harper, call or text 657-274-1463.

For more information about Peacock Hilll Equestrian

Peacock Equestrian Center’s team of trainers covers a variety of disciplines – dressage, hunter/jumpers, general horsemanship and problem-solving.
Photography By Annie MacAller