Kent Life interviews an equestrian champion

Kent-based international event rider Emily Baldwin talks to Kent Life about her Olympic hopes and how it all began

Kent Life interviews an equestrian champion

Kent-based international event rider Emily Baldwin talks to Kent Life about her Olympic hopes and how it all began

At 5ft 3 and weighing less than eight stone, it is incredible to think that Emily Baldwin partakes in a sport where she competes on equal terms with men.

Emily, 29, from Lamberhurst, is an International Event Rider, an Olympic sport that combines dressage, show jumping and cross country.

“You have to realise that the skill in equestrian sport is the ability to forge a partnership with the horse you are competing on. The smaller you are, the more important the level of trust between you needs to be,” says Emily

A competitive adrenaline junky at heart, Emily enjoys the challenge all three phases of eventing . “I enjoy finely tuning my horse to compete and the challenge of training them. I am a perfectionist, which is useful for dressage, and love the adrenaline of cross-country – the diversity of it all really,” she says.

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Horses have been Emily’s passion ever since she can remember. “I was four when I stated to ride. It was through my father who rode and liked horses. We somehow acquired a miniature Shetland, which I absolutely loved to death. I think my parents thought it was a phase that I would grow out of – but I haven’t yet!”

Emily’s riding career really took off after her A-levels, when she made the bold decision to not go to university. It was crunch time when she realised there was no going back.

“I had every intention of going, but I didn’t really have anything I was hugely passionate about apart from art, which meant going to London and I just felt I couldn’t ride and study and give them both 100 per cent,” she says.

“I felt that I could always study as a mature student if my riding career didn’t work out, however I had a great string of horses that I could not put on hold for three years. Sometimes you have to do what feels instinctively right and riding was it! ”

Emily took herself to Gloucestershire to work for six months for Sam and Linda Barr at their renowned Welton stud farm that breeds top event horses. “I went up there to learn the ropes. After that I came home and really started building up a name for myself through owners and teaching,” she says.

With the support of her father and stepmother Jill, Emily has built up an array of owners and horses. Her career got off to a fantastic start when she won the European Junior Team gold at 17, and she just keeps getting better.

The pleasure she gets from her sport has certainly paid off – she is the winner of Hartpury International Horse Trials CIC3* last year and also Belton CIC3*.

“I finished second at Blenheim International CCI last year, I have competed in several four stars, and finished 11th at the Luhmuhlen in Germany last year which is a four star event (the highest category). It’s all very exciting. I get a lot of support through being a member of the Lottery-funded World Class potential squad.”

Emily certainly has the right attitude to take her talent to the 2012 Olympic games. “I am aiming for the Olympics. I was reserve for the Europeans last year and so for the next couple of years I want to build on last year’s good results. I am knocking on doors for team selection… and to win a four-star event as well would be fabulous.”

So how does an Olympic hopeful juggle a boyfriend, family and a social life?

“It’s give and take. My boyfriend isn’t horsey at all, so I have to put time aside otherwise it just doesn’t work. But he is very supportive of what I do which makes a big difference – so I am lucky in that respect.”

Emily’s location in Kent is not only perfect for the competing, but also her social life. “It helps being so close to London, as a lot of my friends have moved there. I just hop on a train and, within the hour, I’m there.”

She adds: “As I also compete in Europe, it is so handy that we are close to the ferry. It is almost easier to go over to France than to go to some of the events further up the country!

“With Dover only an hour from home, it is easy to compete in Europe. We have been to some fantastic competitions and it is nice to give the horses some international experience early on in their careers – the food is pretty good, too!”

More locally, Emily will be competing at the Nurstead and Chilham Castle Horse Trials Horse Trials in Kent this summer.

“I will take my younger horses there, as they are great educational courses and fit into my programme really well. They are well organised events and in such fantastic locations,” says Emily. “From a spectators’ point of view, they are great as you can stand on the hill and watch almost the whole course.”

If you fancy watching Emily at these events, be sure to take the family – you will not be disappointed by the thrill factor! We wish you all the best for this years season, Emily…

Emily loves…



Dolce Vita, Lamberhurst: the people that run it are lovely, they’re Italian and the place is very authentic and enthusiastic. The food is fantastic and often there is live music playing.

Place to chill

Kino cinema in Hawkhurst, it’s very civilized and you can take a glass of wine in with you when you are watching a film!

Place to hang out

The Grey Lady in Tunbridge Wells, you can go and listen to live music. The atmosphere is great and they make a fantastic effort to promote local bands.

Favourite view

The back of Brenchley; it looks out over the Weald of Kent and you can see for miles.

Favourite place to visit

Walking round Bewl Water is very relaxing. The view from the yacht club over the reservoir is lovely.

Nurstead Court Horse Trials

24 to 25 April

The annual British Eventing Horse Trials at Nurstead Court has become popular with top International riders, including Olympic Champion, Pippa Funnell, who competed in 2006. With great spectator views for all the family to enjoy, it is an exciting event not to be missed!

Nurstead Court

Nurstead Church Lane, Meopham, Gravesend DA13 9AD

Email: or tel: 01474 812121

Chilham Castle

14-15 August

British Eventing Horse Trials, plus spectators are welcome to walk the private parkland and enjoy the trade-stands and catering outlets. Well-behaved dogs on leads welcome. Entrance: �5 per car.

Chilham Park

Canterbury CT4 8DB

Tel: 01227 730811