Ashker preps with broken arm for Wellington

Despite breaking her arm in a freak accident, four-star Eventer Lainey Ashker plans to compete her T-bred Anthony Patch in Florida this January.

Despite breaking her arm in a freak accident, four-star Eventer Lainey Ashker plans to compete her T-bred Anthony Patch in Florida this January.

After sustaining a serious break in her right arm from a bad horse kick, four-star Eventer Lainey Ashker plans to resume her competition schedule at the end of January.

Wearing a cast and a smile, Ashker returned to the saddle two weeks after undergoing surgery Nov. 25 to install plates and screws into her arm, mending the damage done by a horse who spooked loading into the trailer.

The young rider, who was critically injured in a cross-country event at the Rolex Three Day in 2008, says that broken bones are par for the course in any competitive sport, especially ones involving thousand-pound animals. And despite having celebrated Thanksgiving in a hospital bed, she is optimistic, even excited, about her upcoming competition schedule.

“Our first event is a pretty big one,” she says. “Al (her four-star Thoroughbred Anthony Patch) and I have been invited to An Eventing Showcase in Wellington Jan 30, and 31. It’s by invitation only, and though it’s unrated, it’s the equivalent of a three-star. I figured we’d start off the New Year right!”

Ashker tells Off Track Thoroughbreds in this week’s Clubhouse Q&A that though sidelined, she is ready and excited for the 2015 season.

Q: Your injury looked pretty horrible, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing you down!

Ashker sustained a swift, hard kick in the right arm last month.

Ashker sustained a swift, hard kick in the right arm last month.

Nobody wants to get injured, but if it had to happen, it was actually the perfect time. My last show was the weekend before, and I’m not due to start showing until the end of January. The cast comes off at the beginning of January, and I’m feeling lucky to be healthy, and young.

I think that being an athlete with the mentality to get back into the saddle right away works for me. I started working out as soon as I could, getting to the gym and walking on the treadmill. It kept me motivated. Two weeks after the accident I was back riding, and yesterday I jumped four horses and flatted two.

I have two great girls working for me, Sydney MaGee and Lauren Sherrill. They kept my horses in full work until I could ride, and have been tacking and un-tacking them for me. All I have to do is get on them. They’ve made it easy.

Q: You’re in great spirits now, but it sounds like it was a very painful accident.

It was a high-impact, high-energy kick, and it broke 100 percent of my ulna at the top and about 80 percent at the bottom. I also had shards of bone that had to be cleaned out, and a dislocated elbow that had to be put back in place.

Despite her injury, Ashker is psyched up to compete her Thoroughbred Anthony Patch in Wellington next month.

Despite her injury, Ashker is psyched up to compete her Thoroughbred Anthony Patch in Wellington next month.

The accident happened the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I was in California visiting my mother (Valerie) and we were loading a horse. We were kind of in a rush, which just goes to show you that you should never be in a rush with horses, and something spooked him and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My mother drove me to the hospital about 30 minutes away, and I went into surgery later that day.

It was a reminder that whenever you feel a little bit cocky, the horse will humble you.

Q: You’re humbled, but yet, you’re in the horse sport for the long haul.

I don’t know anyone at this level of the horse world who hasn’t had broken bones, it just comes with the territory. With any athletic pursuit, there’s going to be injuries, and when you’re working with a 1,500 pound animal, its just part of what we do.

It’s actually not nearly as bad as my left arm, which had to be totally reconstructed three years ago after I got bucked off a horse. I went back to my same doctor, who treated that arm, and he said compared to that, I’m doing pretty well.

I’m excited to get the cast off and get to Florida! ♦

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Hot stuff T’breds go to Old Friends, New Voc.

Gourmet Dinner earned more than $1 million before retiring to New Vocations Racehorse Adoption this week. The gelding will be given a big rest before training for a second career.

Gourmet Dinner earned more than $1 million before retiring to New Vocations Racehorse Adoption this week. The gelding will be given a big rest before training for a second career.

Some big name Thoroughbred got their just deserts after years of racing, and many trips into the winner’s circle.

In Marysville, Ohio, New Vocations Racehorse Adoption welcomed million-dollar-earner and graded stakes winner Gourmet Dinner to the fold.

The beautiful bay gelding was retired through a collaboration with the NYTHA’s Take the Lead Program, which strives to help Thoroughbreds who retire in New York find a soft landing.

And in Georgetown, Ky., Old Friends welcomed four Thoroughbreds previously owned by Drawing Away Stables, including Photon, who earned more than $300,000, Z Dager, a multiple graded stakes placed horse who earned more than $150,000, Litigate, who earned close to $200,000, and Sokitumi Samurai, who earned more than $250,000.

All four are in “excellent health” since arriving to Old Friends 11 days ago from a layup facility, says Blowen, who notes they had previously resided at an auxiliary facility for Old Friends.

Photon, a Drawing Away Stables T'bred earned more than $300,000 before retiring to Old Friends. He and Old Friends Founder Michael Blowen discuss plans to retire more horses!

Photon, a Drawing Away Stables T’bred earned more than $300,000 before retiring to Old Friends. He and Old Friends Founder Michael Blowen discuss plans to retire more horses! Photo by Lorita Lindemann

There are plans to evaluate the horses to determine suitability for re-training, he adds. “They’re all just doing wonderfully,” says Blowen. “We’re going to wait and let them tell us if they want to go on to another career.”

By the same token, Gourmet Dinner will also be given a big rest at New Vocations before entering into training for a future career, according to a press release from New Vocations.

Richard Schosberg, a member of the NYTHA Boar, says it was an honor to help transition Gourmet Dinner into a post-racing career.

“We have sent over 130 horses to TAA accredited aftercare facilities for second careers since our inception, “Schosberg says . “It was an honor when Billy Terrill asked us to include Gourmet Dinner in the program and to have him sent to New Vocations. He’s a very cool horse and has accomplished so much on the track.

“We are extremely happy that he is with New Vocations as the care and love they give these retirees is truly a blessing. He will make someone a fantastic riding horse.” ♥

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Shooting for 4 stars on a string of T’breds

True Bellamy and Rhodes-Bosch compete at Pine Top.

True Bellamy and Rhodes-Bosch compete at Pine Top.

Four-star Eventer Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch isn’t a breed snob. Not at all.

In her earlier years she rode all sorts of breeds competitively, including Warmbloods.

But in recent years, the 26-year-old top rider from Virginia has been competing almost exclusively on Thoroughbred ex-racehorses.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily about the breed of horse. It’s about the horse as an individual. But, at the four-star level I think you need to be on a horse who is at least 60 percent Thoroughbred to have the stamina to make it through the cross-country course,” she says. “I’ve met people who think they don’t want a Thoroughbred, and I tell them that what they want is an uphill Thoroughbred who’s built to do the job, and has the brains for it.”

True Bellamy
Sire: Bellamy Road
Dam: Mariamme
Foal date: Feb. 28, 2008
After three years competing her first in a string of ex-racehorses from the farm of Calgary, Alberta horsemen Susan and Jim Hill, Rhodes-Bosch knows of what she speaks.

Since a series of lucky breaks put True Bellamy, the son of multiple graded stakes winner Bellamy Road, in her hands in 2011, the eventer has gone on to add other T-breds, including Mike and Rob and Broken Diplomacy, and has also trained and sold Harbor the Truth to a competitive Eventing home.

Though her other two horses are in earlier stages of development, they are each demonstrating the kind of early talent she felt the first time she sat on Bellamy, a horse she expects to move up to Intermediate in the spring 2015.

Bellamy worked on getting his confidence this past spring, and is aiming for Training Level in 2015. Photo by

Bellamy worked on getting his confidence this past spring, and is aiming for Training Level in 2015. Photo by

The big-shouldered, uphill gelding came to her by something of a fluke. Her mother Trish Bosch happened to see a magazine article about racehorse owners Susan and Jim Hill, noted for their commitment for retiring their horses to competitive homes before they drop in class on the racetrack.

“My mother read the article, emailed them at their barn, and told them about me,” Rhodes-Bosch. “When we first spoke to the Hills they didn’t understand the sport of Eventing that well. But through a series of conversations, I told him about our sport, and what we need in a horse: I told them the horse needs to have endurance, intelligence, and be light on his feet.”

After which, Bellamy was purchased from the Hills so Rhodes-Bosch could compete the 16-hand gelding.

Now the cornerstone of her string, Bellamy has made great strides in the Eventing world after a bit of a setback last spring.

Rhodes-Bosch explains, “Everything was going really well until Bellamy hit a growth spurt in the spring, which (temporarily) changed his balance” as his hind end grew bigger. “He began to struggle with his confidence at the bigger fences, and was awkward because he was a little ‘bum high,’ and it was not a good situation.”

By the time they reached the Maryland Horse Trials, the jumps were pulling Bellamy like a magnet.

By the time they reached the Maryland Horse Trials, the jumps were pulling Bellamy like a magnet.

Rather than asking too much too soon, she stopped competing at Preliminary, and spent the summer schooling him with talented instructor Lauren Kieffer.

By the finish of the 2014 Preliminary season, the now full grown and well-built animal rewarded her with good runs at two Preliminary Level events.

“We didn’t win any of the events, we still had some time penalties because I didn’t put the pedal to the metal. But he put in an excellent, clean jumping and dressage tests, and by the time we got to the Maryland Horse Trials, I felt I had a horse who was drawn like a magnet to the fences,” she says. “This is exactly what I wanted!”

The four-star rider says she is grateful to have the support of the Hills and the Akre family, her parents, and friends, who have supported her horse career, and who have shown the good sense to choose well-built Thoroughbreds with great minds.

“Eventing as a sport has changed, and it has shifted toward dressage and show jumping,” she says. “But I think Thoroughbreds can be just as great a choice” as any other breed “if they’ve got the right conformation, and they’re brought along carefully.”

Bellamy is owned by Chuck Akre of Virginia. And Rhodes-Bosch competes with the support of Karyn and Paul Wilson, Mike and Emma Gaskins on Mike and Rob.

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