Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ellie Wood Keith Baxter, A Role Model for the Rest of Us

I went to Keswick (just outside of Charlottesville, VA) late yesterday afternoon to interview Tommy Serio  ( well known Virginia equestrian) for a project I work on from time-to-time for the Virginia Horse Show Association. It was a lovely late afternoon warm fall day and Tommy's farm is beautiful, perfectly groomed. His barn is cleaner than my house!  The horses were all put away, the grooms were tidying everything for the following day's riding, readying for his winter relocation to Florida in early December.  

There are so many legends sitting here in Virginia, people who have already earned their place in history.  One came to mind early this morning, Ellie Wood Page Keith Baxter. She was born in 1921 in what is today, almost downtown Charlottesville (on her family farm, Keithwood), near the University of Virginia.  She started riding at 5. 

Even if you don't ride or own a horse, she is a real inspiration for all of us.This photo below was taken at the Upperville Horse Show in 2007, when Ellie was 90! Does she not look wonderful? 

(Mary Louise Weller photo)

In 1935 she won the prestigious Maclay Medal Finals (the award for the top equitation rider in the US) in Madison Square Garden in NYC.  She became a top professional rider for the next 30 years.  She married Charles "Wing" McGee Baxter in NY but she spent her weekends in Virginia and eventually retired there with her son.  Wing died in 1976 and Ellie remained in Charlottesville where she continued to ride and fox hunt.  She was also an avid tennis player and loved to dance.  She also was a motorcycle rider who could be seen riding over to Farmington Country Club (in Charlottesville) until a few years ago (she gave it to her son).

There is a very good article here with lots of photos.  Mrs. Baxter is truly an inspiration to us all.  I don't know if she still rides but this picture is proof that she was riding at 90! 


  1. That was truly fascinating! She should definitely be an inspiration to us all! Thanks for sharing it!

  2. It's funny I know A few women who ride horses and motorcycles (including myself). I hope it keeps us all as young as this fascinating woman!

  3. Needed this. I’m 66 and wondering about riding at my age. I think I’ll rethink this.


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