Young rider Alexandra Baugh has had a stand-out year by anyone’s account. The 20-year-old athlete is not only competing horses at the two, three, and four-star levels, but she also earned herself the title of 2021 RevitaVet USEA Young Rider of the Year. Baugh is based out of Lexington, Kentucky with her four top mounts and was the runner-up of the same title the year prior, but her successes with this year’s team proved unbeatable. Her string includes Altorac Farm's 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding Mr. Candyman (Canto x Mantara), her own 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding I Spye (Harlequin du Carel x Lambardos Corner), Altorac Farm's 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding MHS Fernhill Finale (Verdi x MHS Ryans Daughter), and Altorac Farm's 9-year-old Selle Francais gelding Dogano de L’Oiseliere (Ogano Sitte x Joly Star).
Baugh's season kicked off in February of 2021 at Pine Top Horse Trials in Thompson, Georgia. She and her horses then continued on throughout various areas of South Carolina and North Carolina. One of her biggest events of the season was the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event where she was one of only two riders to put in a double-clean performance in the CCI4*-S.
“The cross-country course at Land Rover was extremely difficult and I just remember watching the first five horses on the live stream and then going for a long walk,” she laughed. “I was one of the last to go in that event, and he just rode incredibly where I could not believe we had been one of the two to go clear. It was not the first four-star we had done together but was definitely our best to date.”
The duo finished in the 11th place position overall and earned the title of Highest Placed Young Rider. Her season then took her to Allentown, New Jersey for the Jersey Fresh International where she competed Mr. Candyman in the CCI4*-L.
“I think that being able to be as successful and get around as well as we did in Kentucky was a huge boost of confidence for us both,” she explained. “He is also not a fast horse but does well with tracks like the one at Jersey Fresh because it is quite twisty. When he is on a course that naturally sets him back a bit, I never have to pull the reins.”
While she stands by the fact that each of her mounts is crucial to her success, she openly shares that Mr. Candyman has had the most significant impact on her career. The horse she acquired from Phillip Dutton has helped Baugh move up to the four-star level where she competes with the top riders in the world.
However, her three additional mounts have no doubt contributed to the award received this year as each finished out their season in a top-five placing in their respective divisions. MHS Fernhill Finale managed a third-place finish in the Intermediate at the Carolina International CCI and Horse Trials at the start of the season. I Spye placed second in the Intermediate/Preliminary at the Champagne Run at the Park Horse Trials in July. Dogano de L’Oiseliere finished out the year taking fifth place in the extremely competitive USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds in the Preliminary Amateur division.
“The point of this season was to really build the horses’ confidence,” described Baugh. “They all started off the year feeling incredible so it was time to bring them along and work on moving us all up the levels.”
Mr. Candyman wrapped up Baugh's 2021 season at the Tryon International 3-day Event, where the duo placed 9th overall and earned yet another Highest Placed Young Rider award at the four-star level.
“It feels pretty surreal to have had the year I’ve had and to be receiving this overall award,” she admitted. “I have been striving towards it for a while now but to finally have my name on that trophy alongside so many other legendary riders is incredible; it doesn’t quite feel real.”
Baugh has one more season where she is eligible to receive the honors and hopes to do so again as she works her way towards life as a professional.
“I am trying to take my time and lay the right foundation so myself and my horses can be successful at this for a long time to come,” she stated. “To do this professionally has always been my dream; I think when I was 4 years old at my Kindergarten graduation they asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up - I said I wanted to ride.”
The countdown is on for the 2022 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds! This year, the USEA AEC moves to the beautiful Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana. The AEC will move back to the Kentucky Horse Park in 2023, so if you have ever dreamed of riding in the Flathead Valley of Montana with views of Glacier National Park, you won’t want to miss this year’s very special opportunity.
USEA Podcast host Nicole Brown is joined by USEA CEO Rob Burk and USEA President Max Corcoran to look back on the highlights of the season so far. From the big five-stars to the road to Pratoni and what to look forward to this year.
When Auburn University’s Alayna Backel jumped the final jump on her cross-country course today you couldn’t even hear the announcer over the mob of Auburn students, fans, and family members standing at the finish flags. As the last member of the Auburn War Eagles team to compete at the 2022 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships, Backel’s double-clear cross-country round with Amy Dobbins’ 17-year-old Halflinger gelding Oliver Twist (Aurora x Ludora de Las Perlas) solidified Auburn’s first victory at the Intercollegiate Championships in three years on a cumulative team score of 79.23.
It has been three years since Auburn University has clinched the title of USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Champions, but the team aimed to rectify that at the 2022 Championships by sending six teams to compete, one of which, the Auburn War Eagles, sits in the pole position following the first day of competition.