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September 29, 2013

A Little Rain Can't Keep Ashker Down

A clean and fast show jumping round for Anthony Patch and Laine Ashker sealed the deal for their advanced win. Photo by Lindsay Berreth.

Sept. 29 – Tyler, Texas

It’s hard enough to wait all day to show jump when $20,000 is on the line, so when the advanced show jumping was postponed until Sunday morning after a line of heavy thunderstorms moved through the Texas Rose Horse Park grounds Saturday evening, Laine Ashker was understandably nervous.

Luckily, Ashker could rely on her off-the-track Thoroughbred, Anthony Patch, and he put in an easy clear round to take the win, and the Adequan Gold Cup.

“Yesterday was a little bit tough because we kind of waited all day,” said Ashker. “I normally don’t ride him before show jumping, so I didn’t ride him, so he didn’t get ridden yesterday. There was just a lot of hand walking, so I was a little nervous today!”

Ashker had a pep talk with her coach, Buck Davidson, before getting on “Al”, and it helped calm her nerves.

“He knows exactly how to play to my strengths and strengthen my weaknesses, even when he’s not there, kind of getting my mind off things,” she said. “He always says that my biggest competitor is myself and I’m usually my worst enemy because I get in my head.”

The footing in the competition ring was sloppy, but it didn’t bother Al.

“I always tend to ride him forward,” said Ashker. “He goes better forward. The footing in the warm up was a lot heavier than it was [in the competition ring.] When I went in, it was kind of a nice surprise to scale back just a touch.”

“I felt like he jumped like typical Al,” she contined. “He’s kind of my backbone in the show jumping, I get so nervous! I feel like it’s usually my weaker phase, but he’s made it my stronger phase because he gives me so much confidence going in.”

So what will Ashker do with all her cash? First, she’ll have to pay for the gas to get back to Virginia, she joked.

“That’s very helpful as any horse person knows!” she said with a laugh. “Jonathan Holling put it this way, “Congratulations Laine, now you can just be broke instead of in debt like the rest of us!’ and it’s so true!”

From Hunt Horse To Eventing

Beth Stelzleni made the trip from her Athens, Ga., home to the Texas Rose Horse Park because she was confident Giselle would be competitive in the beginner novice horse division, despite it being only her third event.

True to form, Giselle, a 7-year-old Trekehner-Dutch Warmblood cross, put in a stellar dressage test to take the lead and held onto it, clinching the win over a tough show jumping course.

Giselle came to Stelzleni a year ago for retraining. She had been started as a hunt horse, but didn’t take to her job, so Stelzeni, who has a knack for working with problem horses, took her on for owner Beth Huddleston.

“She’s been a little bit of a challenge because she was started as a hunt horse and she never really developed brakes when she was younger,” said Stelzleni. “Brakes are something we’re working on developing still!”

Although they’re still working out bitting, Stelzleni, who runs her eventing business, S Squared Eventing, was thrilled with her win.

“She gives you one hundred percent every ride and she’s honest as the day is long,” she said. “She’s not a stopper, she’s very brave. Yesterday on cross-country she was just a super star. I’ve been really happy with her.”

A Lucky Fluke

Julia Denton’s win in the senior novice amateur division with her Win/Win Situation was, by her account, a total fluke.

The duo from Dallas, Texas, were tied for second after dressage (25.5) with Janet Gordon and Irish Beginnings, and they both ran clean cross-country rounds on Saturday. However, Denton and “Winston” finished closest to the optimum time, which gave them the edge.

The leader going into show jumping, Sher Schwarts riding Jamocean, took a single rail, which pushed them into third place and bumped Denton into the lead to win the championship title.

“Third place wouldn’t have been too shabby,” Denton joked after her win. She and the 17.2 hand 11-year-old Westphalian (Widor—Plum Bayou Waltzing Matilda), have competed through training, but they had to take some time off recently for, as Denton puts it, “life.”

A full-time network engineer at a data management company, Denton trains with Becky Brown just a few miles from both her home and work. The arrangement keeps Denton in the saddle, but she hasn’t completely much outside of the area, which left her with some extra nerves going into show jumping.

“I got on an hour too early. I was looking for the bourbon station, and there wasn’t one! I thought for the amateurs there should be mimosas or bloody marys,” Denton jokes.

But once she got into the arena, all the pieces came together.

“I had hoped to place in the top 10, but it was just a hope,” she said. “The most beautiful thing with him is when we get in the arena, it’s just me and him.”


--Carrie Meehan took the win in the novice horse division aboard Cavalier after cross-country leaders Elliott Blackmon and W.H. Topgun knocked a rail to drop to seventh place.

--Olivia Brashear of Flower Mound, Texas, kept her lead from cross-country to win the junior novice championship on Apple Jack. She added nothing to her dressage score of 25, and only .5 points separated her from the second-placed horse-and-rider team of Kristen Turner and Lil' Albert.


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