American event rider, Andrea Baxter, is in disbelief that she is about to tackle her first Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.

“I can’t believe it’s real — I’m so excited!” says the Californian-based coach. “I always wanted to compete overseas but I never thought it would be possible.”

Andrea’s Burghley ride is Indy 500, a 12-year-old mare.

“I found Indy as a four-year-old when my friend was having a dispersal sale at her breeding farm,” explains Andrea. “People didn’t think much of her at the time as she’s quite an unassuming character.”

But by the time Indy was seven, the pair were competing at advanced level.

“Every time I moved her up a level I thought, ‘oh, I think she can do more’,” says Andrea. “I knew she had the scope but we’ve had to push past some mental barriers on the way.”

Andrea is eluding to the fact that Indy had a “pretty big problem” with right-handed corner cross-country fences for a while.

“I had to learn how to rider her — things like sitting completely straight on her became really important,” explains Andrea, whose mentor is fellow American, Tamie Smith.

This spring the pair completed the four-star event at Kentucky.

“Indy made it feel so easy — she went round with her eyes closed,” says Andrea. “Dressage isn’t really her thing as she’s an American, downhill Thoroughbred, but she has matured a lot and Sandy Phillips has said that she thinks we’re capable of a 48.”

Andrea has visited Burghley once, back in 2006.

“Obviously that’s a long time ago now and things have changed, so I’ve been watching a lot of recent Burghley videos at night and then setting up similar questions in the arena at home,” Andrea says.”I’ll be pleased when we get there as Indy doesn’t travel very well — I wanted an earlier flight over but there weren’t any.” The pair leave the U.S tomorrow.

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Andrea has some goals she would like to reach at Burghley.

“If our stars align, I would like a dressage in the 50s, a clear cross-country and clear or four faults in the showjumping — the terrain of the course is on our side as she’s Thoroughbred and super-brave.”

Don’t miss H&H’s Burghley preview issues — course walk with Mary King and interview with event director Liz Inman in this week’s issue (dated 24 August) and 16-page pull-out with form guide for every entry in the following issue (dated 31 August).