Story and photos by Lori Ovanessian
Some life stories are generations in the making. This is true for 27-year-old Alexandra “Lexi” Wedemeyer. She was destined to ride: Her grandfather had a ranch in Montana where her mother, Connie, grew up and horses were part of their everyday life. Her grandfather was tough and her mom recalls a time between 4-H and rodeo days where her father traded farm supplies for another farmer’s horse, handed it to her and said, “Here … make this your next barrel racer.”
With determination and tenacity running in her veins, Lexi began riding lessons at an early age with a neighbor who taught novice riders the basics. She and her older sister visited their grandfather’s ranch in Montana during the summers and her parents wanted to make sure they were “horse safe” while visiting. “Lexi was given the choice of several horses to ride but she always chose a mule named Jick,” her mom, Connie, said, laughing. “Oftentimes you’d find them parked in front of the barn in a battle of wills. More often than not, Lexi would win.” This willpower helped catapult Lexi’s career in the hunter-jumper world.
Foundations and Passions
Lexi’s formal instruction began in dressage. At 11 and 12, she qualified for the Dressage Junior Championships at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center (LAEC) on a few backyard horses. While at a local dressage show, she met hunter trainer Kim Harries, and that changed her world. Lexi was having difficulty with a horse at the show and Kim’s husband, Dylan, asked if he could help. Lexi began riding at their barn, Southern Cross, where Kim recognized her talent. Once Lexi started jumping lessons, she was hooked. Being Kim’s working student taught Lexi a lot about horses and showing.
When Kim moved her business from Bakersfield to Santa Ynez, Lexi’s family made the decision to let Lexi follow. “Somehow, Lexi convinced us that being in Santa Ynez full time and attending a charter school would be best, and Kim was excited to have her as a working student there,” Connie said.
That didn’t mean things came easily. Lexi worked hard and took the opportunities that were in front of her, working long hours with horse rehabilitation and sales horses to cover her expenses.
When she turned 18, Lexi became a professional and started working for Corinne Bevis. She moved into the little apartment above the barn and learned everything she could about the highest standard of horse care. In the three years there, she developed good, consistent horse show experience.
Lexi’s journey then took her to Archie Cox at Brookway Stables. As the assistant trainer, Lexi learned to show and prepare top junior and amateur horses at AA-rated shows in California. Lexi learned to manage a large show barn at home and on the road. After three years of working with Archie, Lexi knew she was ready to move on and become a show rider. It was then she met trainer Carleton Brooks and his wife, Traci, of Balmoral Farms, a large farm located in Los Angeles, with three locations and customers that come and show as well as train with them across the country.
“Carleton and Traci took a chance on me,” Lexi said. “I am forever grateful for the risk they took in the beginning of this journey when they took me on as a rider. They built confidence in me that I didn’t have before and it fast-tracked me to a whole new level.”
The Show Ring
Lexi’s first show with Balmoral was at Kentucky Summer, which they used as a warm up for the indoor seasons. Expectations were high, and Lexi met them — but that didn’t mean she wasn’t scared. Lexi recalls being “beyond nervous” her first time showing at indoors for Carleton and Traci. She knew at that moment it was “sink or swim,” but she also knew it was what she wanted. There was no looking back after that.
Since showing with Balmoral, Lexi has honed her skills as a show ring rider, trainer and manager. Thanks to amazing horses, owners and Lexi’s strong work ethic, she has continued to shine, including in the winner’s circle. Between 2016 and 2017, she was named the WCHR Developing Professional Champion for her region and top 10 nationally. A few of her professional highlights include Grand Circuit Champion Green Conformation and High Performance Conformation at HITS Coachella, Grand Conformation Champion at Showpark Ranch and Coast and Grand Hunter Champion at the Menlo Charity Horse Show.
Lexi is ranked top ten in the country for her professional division with the goal of being in the top six in the WCHR Professional Finals at the Capital Challenge. She has her eyes on going to Derby Finals and being champion at indoors and Devon someday.
Lexi can’t think of anyone she would want to work with more than Carlton. “He always puts the horses first,” she said, adding that Carlton is about the horsemanship. “I’m so grateful I get to learn these methods from him and witness his love of the animal. We push them 40 weeks out of the year and it’s easy for people to forget the majestic animal they so loved as a kid and treat them just as a machine. I’m pretty lucky that Carleton makes this such an important part of it all.”
From riding in the backyard as a kid to spending hours in the saddle as a professional, Lexi’s journey has taken her to the top of the equestrian world. “I knew my daughter was a strong girl, but I didn’t realize how strong of a woman she would actually become,” Connie said. “I don’t think we could be more proud.”
Photos by Lori Ovanessian, simpleefocused.com, unless noted otherwise