By Brooke Goddard
Amateur rider Alexandra Bidwell is hitting her stride in the grand prix ring and becoming a fixture on the West Coast show jumping circuit.
“My mom rode with Hap Hansen for years and I was lucky to have him as my first trainer,” Bidwell says. “When I was about 11 years old, I needed a horse to ride in Thermal and Hap suggested getting my mom’s retired horse, Smoke Jumper, out of the field. I started riding him and winning in the Children’s Hunters. It was incredible to see him come full circle.”
Bidwell took a break from riding but, like many of us equestrians, her passion brought her back into the tack. “I didn’t start training and showing again until about three years ago,” she says. “I’m pursuing a degree in political science and balancing that with my riding. As equestrians, we all know how easy it is to get sucked into the world of horses and forget about your other responsibilities.”
The UC Davis student has made the most of remote learning during the pandemic. “Being able to ride more often while studying online, I was able to complete a lot of personal goals in the saddle,” she says.
At the West Palms LA Summer Classic (Aug. 12-15) Bidwell marked an important achievement in her riding career: a double-clear performance and fifth place in her first grand prix. “It was my first grand prix and it was very special to do that with Acer, a longtime partner of mine,” she says. “He rose to the challenge and my whole family came out to watch.”
“When I got fifth in the grand prix it felt like I won because it was the best outcome for us,” she says.
Bidwell keeps her horses at home in Santa Barbara, CA and meets up with Misti Cassar at horse shows. Next up for Alex is Riders Cup (Oct. 21-24) at the LA Equestrian Center. “I really appreciate the effort that West Palms Events has put into the facility,” Bidwell says. “You can feel the buzz and excitement everywhere around LAEC. There are so many little details and as a rider I appreciate that. I can’t wait for Riders Cup.”
“I hope to do a victory gallop in the all-new Hap Hansen Arena,” she says. “I love that West Palms and LAEC are honoring Hap. They have raised the caliber of competition in Los Angeles. I’m looking forward to seeing where the future takes me.”