(Editor’s Note: The following Q&A took place between the Walking Horse Report’s editorial director Sadie Fowler and youth rider Tori Baxter.)

WHR: Tell us about yourself, and what the important highlights of your world are these days.

Baxter: I am an outgoing, A honor roll student who participates in student council, band, and I also do volunteer work for a therapeutic riding program called Ridin’ High. Ever since I was really little my whole life has revolved around Tennessee Walking Horses and I did and still do spend almost every weekend of my summer at a horse show. 

WHR: Tell us about your journey into the horse world? How did you get started and what has riding taught you?

Baxter: Before I could even hold myself up my mom would have me in the leadline class on my little black pony named Doblin in my tiny show shirts covered in sparkles. As I got older my mom taught me how to ride by myself and I started showing Doblin by myself in model classes and pony classes.

When I was six my dad bought me my first performance horse. He was a four-year-old stallion when we bought him and we named him Bayberry Star. He was placed in training at Ailshie Stables. The first time I showed Bayberry was at a horse show in Chuckey, Tennessee and I showed in the 11 and under division and won. Everyone was so happy, and a few people cried.

A couple of years later I started showing a country pleasure walking mare named Miss Lady Antebellum. As the years went by these two horses helped me acquire many blue ribbons and make quite a few victory laps. I would and still do occasionally show a horse other than my own for someone else. 

We have retired Bayberry Star from being a performance horse and I now show him as a Go As You Please horse. I now show a horse named Los Lobos, which is owned by Jimbo Connor, in 11 and under.

From the time I started riding until now horses have taught me that you must have patience because something will always go wrong. You just have to wait for it to blow over or you have to find some way to fix it. Even though horses are the easiest pet to have, these beautiful teachers have taught me what love is and what true friendship is. 

WHR: What is it about the Tennessee Walking Horse that most attracts you?

Baxter: I’ve always loved the flashiness of the walking horses and I love the feeling of riding them. Just being able to sit back in the saddle and feel the light breeze in your face as you go around the ring … My favorite thing about walking horses is riding them because that is my happy place. 

WHR: Who is your favorite horse of all time? Tell me in your words what makes this horse so special to you?

Baxter: Well, it is not exactly a horse but my pony Doblin. He has and always will hold a special place in my heart. He was that one special pony that I will never forget no matter what. He taught me how to ride and he loved me and took care of me until I outgrew him, then it was my turn to take care of him as he got sick and passed. During that hard time my family always took care of him and made sure we did everything we could. He had a wonderful life and we spoiled him rotten with horse treats and plenty of petting. Life was very difficult after he died but he was and always will be special to me. 

WHR: What do you most enjoy about the show horse industry in terms of what it provides you with things like friendships and new experiences? 

I enjoy the show industry because when I am at a show I am around so many other people who love the same thing I do.

WHR: Who is your trainer. Describe to me what he or she is like, from your perspective as a student of riding. 

Baxter: I train Bayberry Star myself. Los Lobos is in training with Christopher Helton at Snapwood. I have shown several other horses that were and are in training with Chris, such as Simple Lee Dangerous, MP1, Jose’s Serious Black, The Gambino, and Fun Zone. 

WHR: What has been your most special moment in the show ring? 

Baxter: My most special moment had to be when I won a Youth Lite Shod World Championship on Simple Lee Dangerous at age nine. It was my first time showing by myself at the National Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration. When I went in the ring I was smiling, and I was just so happy to get to show such a good horse at such an important horse show.

WHR: Tell me about your world outside of horses. What do you do for hobbies and what do you want to pursue as a career when you’re older?

Baxter: Outside of horses I’m on the Jefferson County Patriots trap shooting team, volunteer at Ridin’ High, clog, and participate in school concert band. I am in seventh grade and I hope to continue to make the A honor roll. When I get older I hope to become an equine veterinarian.

WHR: What is one new thing you would love to learn?

Baxter: I wish I could learn to play the guitar.

Who is someone you admire and why?

I admire my dad because he always has taken care of me and my mom.

If you could have dinner with one famous person, who would it be and what would you have for dinner?

Baxter: I would love to have dinner with Miranda Lambert at the Bell Buckle Café.

WHR: Who is your favorite American president and why?

Baxter: Donald Trump because he is working for the people and not a politician.

WHR: What advice would you give to someone brand new to the horse industry?  

Baxter: Double check and triple check that you have absolutely everything you need before you leave the house. You will not win every time. Make friends, not enemies. And good luck.

WHR: What is one of your goals for the upcoming year?

Baxter: I’m hoping to have a good year in the 12 to 17 Walking Specialty, do my best in trap shooting, and continue to make good grades in school.