Eventing 25: Alexandra Willoughby and Tiki Car On a Journey Together

The USEF has named the 2015 Eventing 25 riders, and we’re excited to get to know each of them with a series of profiles on EN. These young riders are the future of our sport in the U.S., so remember their names and join us in giving them the recognition they deserve. Keep checking back for new profiles. Go Eventing 25!

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Alexandra Willoughby and Tiki Car at the 2014 NAJYRC. Photo courtesy of ©Brant Gamma Photos

21-year-old Alexandra Willoughby wasn’t always into eventing. She grew up doing local pony club and small events but gradually shifted to showjumping. It wasn’t until recently that she switched disciplines and started eventing.

“About three years ago I went to my first event with my children’s jumper, So Lucky,” Alexandra recalled. “We went Training and the cross country was so thrilling I knew I was hooked. The jumping sections came the easiest to us given our jumping backgrounds but the dressage was terrifying!”

Alex and So Lucky moved up and competed in several Preliminary events, scoring well within the top 10 almost every time. Later that year, in 2012, Alex sold Lucky and purchased her current mount, Tiki Car. The Selle Francais mare was five when Alex got her, and the pair started at Beginner Novice and worked on putting together a solid foundation through the levels together.

Alex and her family got “Tiki” from Fernando Cardenas’ Selle Francais dressage/showjumping breeding facility in Florida. “Originally she was supposed to be a children’s hunter, but when I got to ride her our personalities matched too well to pass it up,” Alex said. “I wasn’t sure exactly how it would turn out; she was young and looked a little bit like a donkey, but it was one of those times when you just know it’s right.”

The only word Alex would use to describe Tiki is that she is a very chill horse. “She always looks like she might fall asleep, even at high energy events,” she said. “I can gallop her bareback with only a halter and feel completely safe. She is truly an incredible horse.”

©Brant Gamma Photos">Alexandra Willoughby and Tiki Car at the 2014 NAJYRC. Photo courtesy of ©Brant Gamma Photos

Alexandra Willoughby and Tiki Car at the 2014 NAJYRC. Photo courtesy of ©Brant Gamma Photos

To date, Alex’s proudest moment with Tiki was placing fourth individually and second in team medals at CCI2* at NAJYRC in 2014. Tiki was just seven, and the pair had just started competing at Intermediate that year. “With a horse that young at that level every phase is a bit of a 50/50 chance,” Alex said. “Even though we had a couple of green moments, when it came down to it, Tiki held her own like a professional. I’m very excited to see her grow even farther and take on the next levels of then sport.”

The biggest challenge with Tiki is always the first third of the cross country course, Alex says. “She’s a dream ride at narrows, angles and corners, but going away from the start box requires a bit of encouragement,” she said. “What truly amazes me about Tiki is how hard she’ll try for you even at those times she needs a big ride. As long as you keep riding, she’ll keep trying.

Alex was thrilled to be named to the Eventing 25 list this year, and is looking forward to the learning opportunities that await. “Being named for the 25 program is like a dream,” she said. “I’m proud to be a part of the program and I’m excited to ride with the other participants. It is always encouraging to get to ride with such talented and ambitious people.

As for the future, Alex is currently finishing college in Tennessee. She plans to start showing Tiki again this spring, but I’she plans to keep her at the Intermediate/2* level to fine tune some of her training and to acquire more mileage for both of them. After college, Alex hopes to move up to the Advanced and three-star level.

Best of luck to Alex and Tiki with all of their endeavors in 2015 and beyond!