A 60-year-old California woman attempting to ride her OTTB across the United States has been delayed by mounting medical issues.
Valerie Ashker, the mother of four-star rider Lainey Ashker, sustained a broken clavicle and elbow in a fall last week, an accident occurring just weeks after a horse-kick fractured two or more of her ribs.
And in a worrisome turn of events, doctors discovered a marble-sized “spot” on her lung during a routine, follow-up x-ray, and suggested the daredevil rider take time out to visit an oncologist in Provo yesterday morning. With great relief Ashker announced that the spot was suspected to be caused by an earlier fall, and that though the doctor would follow its progression, he was “not worried” that it was cancerous.
Ashker announced her medical situation on her Facebook page 2nd Makes Thru Starting Gates, to explain to fans and followers that the journey she started to raise awareness about Thoroughbred sport horses had met with some untimely delays.
In an interview yesterday morning en route to the doctor, Ashker said she plans to finish her trek with OTTBs Primitivo and Solar Express no matter what the results of her test showed.
“I’m not backing down,” Ashker says. “The only option is forward and go!”
Noting that the ride is not about her, but about helping to raise awareness about the worth and talent of off-track Thoroughbreds, Ashker notes with some pride that though she has suffered the rigors of the trek that began in early May in California, her horses are fit, sound, and eager to keep going. “They’ve come so far,” she says. “And they’re both opposite ends of the Thoroughbred spectrum. One is a classical Thoroughbred, but the other is a chunky monkey with a thick neck. And yet, they’re both doing fantastically well with this and they’re chomping at the bit to get out of here.”
The plan is to resume the ride midweek with the goal of making it to Holden, Utah. “The horses have been banging their buckets every morning because they want to get out of Dodge. We’re all champing at the bit to keep moving and get to Virginia!”