Basalt High’s Bella Andrews signs with Texas Christian Univ. for equestrian | AspenTimes.com

Basalt High’s Bella Andrews signs with Texas Christian Univ. for equestrian

The first word Bella Andrews spoke was, appropriately, "Mom." It was her second word that would go on to define her more than anything.

"She picked horses right away. It was her second word," said Bella's mother, Carmen Andrews. "I used to go jogging with her and I had a pony and she would sit on the little pony and trot after me. She's always been with a horse."

While Thursday's event at Basalt High School had been a long time in coming, it also was inevitable. Bella, a BHS senior, signed her letter of intent to join the equestrian team at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, which was her top college choice.

TCU is among the best programs in the country, and will be a No. 6 seed when it competes at the NCEA National Championship from April 18 to 21 in Waco, Texas. The Horned Frogs finished as the national runner-up only two years ago.

"When I got into TCU I knew that was what I wanted," Bella said. "When I went and visited I fell in love with the campus. I felt as if I was at home. It was so nice and the people said it was the best decision they ever made, so it made me feel really comfortable."

Carmen has a background as an English rider, but when Bella was born decided to focus exclusively on Western riding. While Bella does have some experience as a barrel racer, she sticks with reining anymore, which is where the rider guides the horse through a pattern that includes circles, spinning and coordinated stops.

Recommended Stories For You

"I switched from jumping to reining, or Western, when she was born, because I didn't want her to grow up a certain way," said Carmen, who also serves as Bella's trainer. "I wanted her to be that cowgirl. I enjoy both sides, but this is healthier, I think, for her."

Bella's acceptance to TCU and its equestrian team isn't overly surprising considering she won a world championship last year in, of all places, Fort Worth. With an impressive bit of hardware already on the shelf, Bella had no significant goals to talk about going forward other than continuing to enjoy her life's passion.

"I won the world championship last summer and that was a huge accomplishment for me. Honestly, I just want to keep doing it. It's what I love," Bella said. "It's actually a dream come true, because I didn't know if I would make a team or not, because they are really selective. So just being considered is a huge accomplishment in itself. So when I found out I made the team I was so excited."

Bella said she plans to major in psychology, with a pre-med focus. Eventually, she wants to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.

"Bella has always been very selective on what she wants to do and when she figures it out she makes sure it's going to happen," Carmen said. "She wants to heal the heart. She wants to heal people. I don't know how she's going to do all of this, and if she does, it won't surprise me one bit and I will support her every step of the way, as best as I can."

acolbert@aspentimes.com