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!
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.
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! ♦