Bubbles floats over cross-country

Bubbles and Rebecca

Bubbles wasn’t supposed to stick.

The plan was for the onetime Suffolk Downs racehorse, formerly known as Rub Softly Rube, to be retrained and resold quickly.

But when the shrewd horsewoman who bought him began teaching the super cute horse the foundations of dressage and jumping, there was a development she hadn’t planned for.

Bubbles turned out to be quite the charmer. And he plied the force of his nuzzling, snuggling personality upon Corinne Ashton’s daughter Rebecca.

And pretty soon, the horse Ashton identified as a great sales prospect was one the girl coveted as a pet.

“She begged me not to sell him,” says Ashton, a native of Scotland who is steeped in the horse business all the way back to her childhood of riding lessons in the British Isles. “This horse had everything I was looking for in a resale project: He was pretty, went well, had a decent height and a good temperament.”

Rebecca agreed.

With a lot of love and patience, Bubbles has been shown the ropes of trail riding, low-level dressage, and jumping, all to prepare him in the basics so he could go on to an eventing career.

Race name: Rub Softly Rube
Show name: Bubbles Sphere
Sire: Run Softly
Dam: Dancing Rube
Foal date: 2004
“When we first got him, the only thing he knew was to go forward and fast,” Ashton says. “So we took him trail riding; the girls rode him with a buddy horse, and followed each other over ditches, through water and up and down hills—these were all things he never experienced on the track.”

He struggled a bit with dressage. Unlike the Warmbloods who naturally “point their toes” Bubbles improved his “Thoroughbred gaits” so they were correct, but lacked the floating, extended trot, which is so desirable with dressage.

It wasn’t until the put him in front of a jump that he really shined.

Naturally light on his front end, and possessing the great Thoroughbred stamina to carry him across fields, over ditches and jumps without flagging, he was naturally gifted at jumping cross-country.

Ashton and Bubbles. AK Dragoo photo

At novice eventing shows, he has proven himself a willing worker bee, winning ribbons, and getting better.

Highlights of recent shows include a second place overall at a University of New Hampshire ESEA show Oct. 1 and 2, and last year, a sixth place in a Preliminary event in Pennsylvania.

He has turned in many other impressive performances as he helps to prove that the “bad press” about Thoroughbreds being “crazy” simply isn’t true, Ashton says.

“It’s been my experience that they’re pretty sensible creatures.”

She should know. Ashton has had a bit of success with Thoroughbreds.

Her biggest showboat horse was an un-raced Thoroughbred named Dobbin. Purchased from the Want Advertiser for a mere $2,500, Dobbin was named the 2008 USEA Horse of the Year, and graced the cover of Eventing Magazine in February 2009.

Retired now from the rigors of cross-country, Dobbin didn’t do well just hanging around the barn all day. So to give him something to do, Ashton started him in dressage, and took lessons herself to improve her seat. He has vastly exceeded any expectations she had, remarkably earning the silver medal in Grand Prix dressage! And she expects him to achieve the gold medal this year. An accomplishment proving that Thoroughbreds are remarkable, indeed.

“Dobbin is a four-star event horse who has run around Rolex a couple of times,” she says. “He’s 17 now and still exceeds everybody’s expectations of him. He’s learning Grand Prix movements and already has the silver medal and is halfway to getting the gold.”

Ashton and Dobbin as cover stars

Although Bubbles is not destined for a career on par with what Dobbins has done, the two share similar traits. Both possess great minds and a willing spirit to carry them into careers where they eclipse the competition.

“I remind my children I could easily sell Bubbles,” she jokes. “But, I do respect and understand the fact that has a horse who she really thinks she can’t live without.”

Like mother like daughter. Ashton can’t imagine looking out in the pasture and seeing Dobbin gone. He has done everything for her. And likewise, her daughter feels the same way about Bubbles.

“She didn’t care that much about being an equestrian until she met Bubbles. She fell in love with that horse and begged me to keep him, even when she went to college.”

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