For Paso Robles-based Eventing trainer Andrea Baxter, the upcoming trip to the prestigious Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials is one of redemption. She’s tackling her ‘second chance’ at one of the world’s toughest Three Day Events with a little more pressure than her 2017 attempt. “I’ve had all year with this goal in the back of my mind, that really can eat away at you,” says Baxter, 35. Once again, she is preparing to load up her 13yo locally bred Thoroughbred ‘Indy 500’ and fly across the pond to rub shoulders with the best the world has to offer in the sport of Eventing.
“Last year I decided to tackle Burghley at the latest moment possible, I decided on a whim that I would enter”. As luck would have it, everything fell into place and not even a month later Baxter was hacking her horse around the pristine gardens of Burghley House. Baxter had finished 31st at America’s largest 4* event, The Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event in Lexington. She then headed to The Event at Rebecca Farm, placing 3rd and pocketing a nice amount of prize money that fuelled her plans for the trip to the UK. “I’m not going to lie, last year I went into it a little naive, what it would cost, how the travel would unfold…. how the course would look” Upon initial inspection of the cross country course, Baxter was wondering if she’d made the right choice “honestly, I didn’t know if my horse could even jump that big, I’d never seen anything like it”. Her 2017 attempt didn’t end as planned and she re routed to the Ssang Yong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials the following month. “I had an unimpressive dressage test which left me near the bottom of the pack, but I climbed over 60 places by the end of the weekend” They finished in 25th out of almost 100 starters. Baxter and Indy returned to her family’s Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles quietly plotting her return.
During all of 2018 it’s been on Baxter’s mind that she wanted to have another crack at Burghley. But the question lingered, how could she afford to do it all over again? Ironically, she and Indy 500 placed 31st again this year at the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event, and 3rd again at Rebecca Farm. “I mean it’s a sign right?! But I’m going into Burghley this time with a lot more a stake. I know what to expect, what the whole thing is about”
Andrea grew up on ten acres in Templeton, encouraged into horses by her mom Connie. “We had our horses at home, I went to pony club and competed all over California with my mom” Baxter competed at the North American Young Rider Championships multiple times, and together they even dabbled in some breeding. That has become an ongoing passion of Baxter’s to this day. They bred her first 4* horse ‘Estrella’, whom Andrea rode at the Kentucky Three Day Event in 2010. That line is carried on by some of Estrella’s offspring, most notably Coronado, a 4yo stallion Andrea bred by Chilli Morning. The sire is somewhat of a legend in Eventing circles, becoming the first stallion to win the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials and earning a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2014. 2018 is Coronado’s first year at stud and he’s learning the ways of becoming a lovely event horse himself. “ I’m not sure how it’s all going to work” says Baxter “I have a successful string of mares I compete regularly, so standing at stud and competing a stallion really adds some excitement to things!”
In addition to breeding future champions and running her breaking and training business ‘Estrella Equestrian’, Baxter also assists the family running Twin Rivers Ranch and the frequent number of shows there. For information on upcoming events check out twinrivershorsepark.com. To follow Andrea’s progress at Burghley August 30- Sept 2 go to burghley-horse.co.uk.