Saturday, May 19, 2007

Crunch Time!

Hello everybody!
It's been a while since I wrote last so I have a lot of updates, which I am going to try to compress within a few paragraphs to avoid sounding too monotonous. Let's start with the last show in Ocala, the Florida three day event. I rode Anthony Patch in the CCI** and Keep the Change in the CCI* division. Alex was brilliant in the dressage, however his age really showed on the cross country with a couple run outs on the course. He is a funny horse that way, being that he has been the most consistent of all my horses throughout the season as far as going clear across country. However, being he is so young, is was just a reminder for me to keep him for a while longer at the intermediate level. Dollar was a star with a GREAT dressage test, double clear cross country round, and one down in the show jumping to finish 12th out of some sixty horses. His ambition and talent just seems to increase as his season progresses. I had planned to move him up the intermediate the next show in hopes to take him to Bromont CCI** in Canada. Overall, I was happy to have two sound and sane horses and the end of the show. With that under my belt, it was time to migrate north again back to Crow's Ear Farm in Virginia. When I arrived home, a few setbacks occurred that seemed to hinder rather than help. My bird, one of my dearest friends of seven years, had finally passed away. He seemed to go from healthy and happy to sick and dying overnight! I was thankful to have held him in his last breaths of life before he moves onto the next and he does know that I miss him daily. In addition, Dollar's owner decided that she wished to take the horse back, whether she was to sell him or keep her for herself she didn't know. I wish both she and Dollar well, although I can't help but think of how far both his and my eventing partnership could have gone had he stayed at Crow's Ear Farm. However, Jim from Stubben came to my house to fit all my horses for their new saddles so at least that new partnership is beginning to take shape. With all that in my mind, it was clear to me that I needed to do well at Plantation Field to try and obliterate all the negativity that surrounded me. I had Frodo entered in the advanced division (I would later find out that they switched me to the FEI division without my knowing and had to learn a new dressage test two horses before I went!!! I felt like I was at UVa again struggling to fit all the information into my head before a big exam!), and Alex took Dollar's place in the Intermediate division. Also, my mother Valerie Ashker, began her season with her horse, Solar Express in the Training division and did very well I might add. She hopes to move up to prelim at the next one in Lexington. Overall, I was thrilled with both of my horse's performances. Alex was still a bit green across country but nevertheless finished on a double clear round to place fourth. Frodo was a pro and blazed across the Pennsylvania fields to jump into second place in the A-FEI division. Every time I run him across country, he feels more and more like a four-star horse, and important people in my life who at first were apprehensive about the idea are slowly starting to come around. What is so cool about Fro is his consistency in all his events. Great dressage, great xc, struggles in stadium. However, I have been taking lessons from local grand prix show jumper, Derek Reed, who has helped my horses and I have a different view of show jumping altogether. So, with Plantation behind us, I guess you can say we are "back in stride." When I got back home, I took all my ponies for their Day Spa visit to Dr. Cowles at Blue Ridge Equine Clinic. I cannot tell you how much Dr. Cowles (in addition to Dr. Furlong when I am in Ocala) have helped keep Jaime so sound and healthy with many ailments, including age going against him. Dr. Cowles works rigorously with my farrier, Bill Lane, to provide my horses with the best shoes to increase their optimum performances. Without those two, we certainly would have not made it this far. Jaime got his usual total body treatment and Fro got a few glitches worked out and now everyone is in heavy preparation for the spring three day at Jersey Fresh CCI*** and CCI**. This weekend, May 20, I am taking all three to a schooling jumper show to practice over some bigger fences. Alex with run VA horse trials intermediate, and will go xc SLOWLY for an extra school. Then the big week will arrive...I am so excited to have all three going and boy are they looking good and fit! Stay tuned for more updates. I will leave you all with a little saying my mom tells me whenever I get down about setbacks in life. "When one door closes another one opens up..." And you know what, she is right? With these next three weekends pounding hard on my door, my horses and I will open it up, take a deep breath, and deliver the best performances to date at Jersey...wish us luck and thanks so much for everyone's support!!!

Lainey Ashker

PS. I just knew I couldnt keep it down to a couple paragraphs...oh well!!!