Showjumping champs: good start for Baxter

2012-08-03 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG horse rider Phillipa Baxter (28) journeys to Durban this week for the South African Showjumping Championships at the Cyril Geoghegan Cycle Stadium. She has already got her campaign off to a flying start, with victory in the 1,40 m CK Aerials Welcome Stakes on the opening day on Wednesday, and hopes to take on the 1,50 m championships, the highest level in showjumping.

A former pupil at St John’s DSG, Baxter was, by her own admission, “born on a horse’s back”. While she enjoyed hockey, horse riding was passed down through the generations and she was riding virtually from when she could walk.

“My mother was a rider and had a riding school and her mother, my gran, also rode. I grew up in the environment and riding became my first-choice sport and focus of attention. My sisters also ride and my first horse was one passed down to me from them,” she said.

Through the years, Baxter has racked up an impressive list of wins and earned provincial and national recognition.

This includes representing KwaZulu-Natal at children’s level in 1997/98 for jumping and equitation, riding for South Africa in the Children’s World Cup jumping final in Cape Town in 1998, where she was the fourth-ranked junior rider in the country and number 34 in the world, representing KZN in jumping and equitation at junior level in 2001 and stepping up to KZN adult level for jumping in 2010.

Wins include the Children’s Natal Showjumping Championship in 1998, the Open Showjumping Championship of Natal in 2008/09 at adult level and victor ludorum in the open category in 2008/09, the 1,40 m open championship at the Royal Show in 2009, the 1,40 m SA Championship in 2009/10 and the 1,40 m/45 m Rider’s Grand Prix (leg three) in 2010 and 2012.

Baxter said: “ The SA Champs and Grand Prix wins have been special. In preparation for Durban, my trusty 13-year-old horse Burnt Wood is at peak fitness. I am riding five to six times a week and feel strong. Away from riding, I jog to maintain fitness, stamina and strength.”

With no sign of pulling in the reins in the near future, Baxter is a rider to respect in the arena. She acknowledges this time of year is the busiest in the province as far as jumping goes and is pleased that the province is hosting bigger, prestigious shows. “There are shows all over the country, but KZN is ... up with the best of them. I do about three shows annually outside the province,” she said.

The championships end tomorrow.

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