Dec 26, 2019

USEA Events A-Z: Twin Rivers Horse Trials

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
The iconic mission jump on the cross-country course at Twin Rivers. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, California (Area VI) hosts four events yearly offering a multitude of levels. In March, Twin Rivers offers Intro through Advanced levels. In April, they host their spring CCI offering CCI2*-L, CCI3*-L, CCI4*-L, CCI3*-S, CCI4*-S, Beginner Novice through Advanced, and FEH and YEH classes. At their summer horse trials in July, they offer Intro through Advanced and FEH and YEH classes. Finally, at their fall event in September, they offer CCI2*-S, CCI3*-S, CCI4*-S, Intro through Advanced, and FEH and YEH classes.

In 2001, the Baxter family purchased 500 acres of land outside of Paso Robles, California, with the dream of hosting a three-day event. “We dreamed of putting on three-day events because that is what I did as well as my daughter, Andrea,” said Connie Baxter, owner of Twin Rivers Ranch, organizer of the Twin Rivers Horse Trials, and mother to five-star eventer Andrea Baxter. “We had our first event in January of 2004. We had to work very hard to clean up all the trash left here from previous years. Then there was a huge earthquake in Paso Robles in December of 2003, which had us scrambling because our first event was to happen in a month!”

Andrea Baxter competing at Twin Rivers. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

That first event in January of 2004 offered Novice through Intermediate levels and hosted 164 riders. That same year they also hosted a spring event in March and a fall event in October. The following year they moved the winter event to March, the spring event to April and the fall event to September, dates that they hold to this day. The added the Advanced level in October of 2004 and the Beginner Novice level the following March. In 2007 Twin Rivers began hosting USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) classes.

In April of 2006, Twin Rivers offered their first international divisions, adding a long format CCI2* and CCI*. The spring event continued to host international divisions moving forward. In 2008, Twin Rivers added a CIC2* and a CIC* to their offering at their fall event and their first CIC3* a year later in the fall of 2009. The spring event first ran a CIC3* in 2010 and has continued to do so ever since. In 2020, Twin Rivers will host their first CCI4*-L at their spring event, making it one of just three competitions of its kind on the west coast and six in the United States.

The summer event, which now runs in July, started out as a YEH and USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) competition in 2009. It expanded to offer a combined test in 2013 and graduated to a full-fledged summer event in 2018.

USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Baxter was quick to point out that putting on an event at Twin Rivers has been a huge undertaking, one she could not have achieved without help from her family. “My husband, Jeff Baxter, has a grading and paving business which requires lots of big equipment. We needed lots of trucks, tractors, trailers, and hard labor to clean these 500 acres up and prepare for horse shows!”

“We were lucky to have Bert Wood and staff to build and prepare the new cross-country tracks,” she continued. “We were also lucky to have the expert help of Christina Gray to get the essential office work done. Last but not least, we have ourselves and our daughter, Andrea Baxter, to thank for all of our hard labor and making this happen! It has truly been a family affair.”

The expansive farm has always been family owned and operated, something Baxter believes sets Twin Rivers apart from other events. Plus, they are constantly making improvements and upgrades to the cross-country courses and other facilities to keep things fresh for competitors. “It is hard to list all of [the upgrades] but just a few are a large 150 x 300 covered arena; lots of large outdoor arenas with excellent footing; upgraded permanent barns; a central and very popular outside bar; a nice, comfortable office – all centrally situated for competitors to enjoy.”

The outdoor bar is a popular gathering place at Twin Rivers. Photo courtesy of Connie Baxter.

Hugh Lochore took over designing the upper level cross-country courses at Twin Rivers from James Atkinson last September while Marc Grandia designs the cross-country courses for Preliminary down to the Intro level.

Baxter pointed out that there’s more than just horses to see in Paso Robles. “Paso Robles has become a very popular tourist town with lots of wineries. People love to come here and visit!”

Twin Rivers is surrounded by wineries. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

“Not only that, but they look forward to seeing what we will have new. We try our hardest to make this a special place to come to and ride!”

The USEA is profiling the history behind all USEA recognized events in the USEA Events A­-Z series.

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