Rider, 60, breaks ribs crossing USA on her OTTB

Valerie Ashker, 60, sustained 2 broken ribs in an accident on Monday. She resumed her 3,500-mile journey on her OTTB yesterday.

Valerie Ashker, 60, sustained 2 broken ribs in an accident on Monday. She resumed her 3,500-mile journey on her OTTB yesterday.

A 60-year-old California woman attempting to cross the United States on her Thoroughbred sustained broken ribs Monday from a horse kick.

Three weeks and 200 miles into the ride to raise awareness about off-track Thoroughbreds, Valerie Ashker and her entourage were in Fallon, Nev., settling in for the night at the Drost family farm, when her OTTB Primitivo tried to kick her other T’bred Solar Express during a playful moment.

Asker says, “We were trying to blanket them and Solar is a real Alpha and was nipping at Tivo, who is the smaller follower. We got the blankets mixed up because they’re the exact same color, so we were pulling blankets on and off, and Solar reached out with his teeth, and bam, Tivo hit a bull’s-eye on my back. Thank god he had his rubber easy glove boots on! That really did soften the blow.”

Sire: Monashee Mountain
Dam: Siberian Shamrock, by Siberian Summer
Foal date: May 6, 2009
Solar Express
Sire: Bold Badgett
Dam: Proper Look, by Properantes
Foal date: May 18, 1999
Ashker was treated at a nearby hospital where x-rays revealed clean breaks to ribs seven and eight and a possible fracture of a third rib, she says.

Advised by the doctor to rest until Friday, Ashker reported feeling well enough to resume her journey on Thursday.

“There’s nothing you can do for ribs. The doctors gave me a little device to breath into everyday to test my lung capacity, and I’m good to go,” she says, noting that she wouldn’t hear of suggestions to take it easy and spend part of the journey riding in the cushioned comfort of the trailer accompanying them. “I committed to this and my whole goal was to walk or ride every step across the country.”

With her high spirits easing the pain, Ashker expects to log roughly 15-20 miles a day and arrive in five months in Maryland, promising to draw more and more attention to her cause.

Valerie Ashker and Peter Friedman resumed their 3,500 mile journey on two OTTBs yesterday.

After breaking her ribs on Monday, Valerie resumed her cross-country ride yesterday. Pictured earlier in the ride with Peter Friedman.

At the outset of the journey, Ashker emphasized that her career and that of her four-star Eventing daughter Lainey Ashker, had been “made” by retired ex-racehorses. And by making such a dramatic trip, she hoped to drum up publicity for the breed, and remind the horse-buying public that OTTBs are incredible athletes.

“I hope this ride helps call even more attention to OTTBs so these horses” and their welfare “can become a really high priority,” Ashker said in an earlier interview. “This is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time. Horses off the track have put us (Lainey and me) on the map. We’ve taken three OTTBs to Rolex and I’m doing this to raise awareness. These horses worked their bums off to be breadwinners for their (race) owners. And after they’re done with racing, usually at a young age, many people think they’re “done” altogether. What I’m hoping to demonstrate is that for a lot of these horses, the end of their race career is just the beginning.”

— Off Track Thoroughbreds.com will not be published on Monday, May 30th, in observance of Memorial Day. We will resume publication on Tuesday.

9 responses to “Rider, 60, breaks ribs crossing USA on her OTTB”

  1. Lynne Jones

    You’re to be commended Valerie. You are so right, TB’s are dumped by their breeder and trainers when they do not win. Some of the breeders and trainers do care but a majority I believe don’t give a darn what happens to them. May this ride bring out the excellence these horses so deserve. But our other domesticated horses are “dreams” also, and we can’t forget them. All of these animals deserve loving, caring, and belonging to a two legged family that will take care of them for their entire life, not at a killers buyer”s lot..

  2. Diane Plath

    Cheers for the often unrealized value and courage of older women and retired race horses!

  3. nohorseslaughter ortiz

    Luv ya, hope you are healing. I also hope you bring the message of the cruelty of horse racing. Carry on brave lady!

  4. colmel

    Is there any app or way to track these incredible people and their horses as they cross the country? Is the new media being told as they approach so the word can get out? I’m betting that there are a number of OTTB folks like Danielle Lyon Montgomery who would join the ride where they can. Amazing woman!

  5. Danielle Lyons Montgomery

    Please let us know as you go thru Pennsylvania – a group of OTTBs will ride with you for a day!!!

  6. becky

    What a trooper! Getting right back in the saddle! What an inspiration….thank you for bringing awareness! Much needed and much appreciated!

  7. JJFlint

    I admire your grit and hope the rest of your journey goes well. OTTB’s are something else!

  8. Mark Eagan

    Awesome! Hope you take care of yourself if to much pain!! good luck and god bless

  9. mp


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