There are certain milestones in every event rider’s life: your first four-star, your first major win, and yes, your first Burghley. For the Paso Robles, California-based eventer Andrea Baxter, that particular first is happening this weekend. Making it even sweeter? Andrea’s own “Burghley Horse” is a mare she’s brought up through the ranks herself: Indy 500, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred that made her four-star debut at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in April, finishing 31st.

After a solid dressage performance on Thursday, Andrea and Indy are gearing up to hit Burghley’s iconic cross-country course on Saturday. We caught up with Baxter to learn more.

1. Congratulations on making it to Burghley! Is this your first time competing across the pond? 

Yes, it’s my first event outside of USA and Canada. I came to watch Burghley and the World Equestrian Games in Aachen in 2006, but this is a whole new level of being here!

2. How would you describe this event’s reputation among riders?

I think Burghley is known for being one of the toughest four-stars in the world. But usually, what makes it tough is the fitness and bravery aspects, which hopefully, my Thoroughbred will excel at.

3. What are your impressions of the facility so far?

Absolutely stunningly beautiful! I keep staring at the trees!

4. How has Indy settled in?

So well. She’s not the best traveler and had a pretty rough trip. We only arrived from the USA on Sunday, so my first actual work ride wasn’t until Wednesday morning before the jog! But she seems to feel really zen with the atmosphere here.

5. What kind of a horse is she on cross-country?

She is the most fun cross-country horse! This will definitely be a huge step up for her, but usually, she’s great. She doesn’t get worked up, just stays in a rhythm and hunts down the jumps.

6. What makes her special?

I’ve had her since she was a 4-year-old. I bred her and now her 7-year-old baby is soon to be competing at the two-star level! Indy is an odd character. She’s super laid back 90 percent of the time, and a complete wing nut a very random 10 percent [laughs]. But I love her. We have a special partnership together.

7. What are your hopes for the weekend?

To finish! Haha. She’s a great show jumper, usually, so we need to put our flying shoes on for Saturday so we get that far 😉.

8. Is there anything at Burghley or in the Stamford area that you’re looking forward to seeing while you’re there?

I probably won’t have time, but I did go to the Burghley House last night for the cocktail party. It was amazing!

-Photo credit: Nixon Photo.