Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 19
An Army sergeant might as well have been at the Pennsylvania National when Ashley Foster stepped foot in the ring because everyone assumed their positions. Her mom and trainer Patty Foster disappeared somewhere up high in the stands where no one could see her vibrating. Meanwhile down below by the rail, her aunt and other trainer at Rolling Acres (Maryland), Marylisa Leffler buzzed to a different tune as Ashley started her way around the course in the $7,500 Amateur/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, kicking her legs with Ashley saying “Leg to hand!” when the moment needed it.
“My whole family rides with me—I’m not joking,” said Foster. “My dad’s at home watching on live feed. My grandmother sets up live feed on her computer—and if you know her that’s like a big thing. I have my whole family behind me which is amazing.”
Meanwhile in the ring, Ashley just focused two things. First: Not falling off. Second: Giving her mounts Capella and Daliante M a good ride.
Capella and Daliante M came under Ashley’s ride list just this year. Ashley purchased Capella in the summer, and then at the same time she gained the ride on Daliante M after Leffler, her normal pilot, dislocated her shoulder.
“It’s a little family rivalry,” said Ashley. “I fell in love with her, and I never gave her back. I seriously was like, ‘Nope you can’t have her. She’s all mine.’ So [Leffler] was very kind and let me have her for the rest of the summer. She is incredible. She’s got me back into doing grand prix [classes].
“I got [Capella] middle of summer,” she continued. “We were just learning each other, and he was amazing at Capital Challenge, so we thought we’d bring him here too. And obviously [he] walked around there like it was nothing.”
With both mounts marking clear in the first round, Ashley made up half of the jump-off along with Danielle Torano with Uxanna and Callie Seaman and Jet Set DB.
Coming in after Seaman, Ashley and Daliante M, owned by her grandparents under the Rolling Acres name, nicked a single rail. But as she rushed to warm-up Capella, Torano’s rail and slower time meant that Ashley just had to compete against herself for the win. And her careful ride with Capella earned the only clear round, giving them not only the classic win but also the amateur/amateur-owner jumper championship and the leading amateur/amateur-owner rider title.
“I needed a Redbull halfway through that last round. That was a lot of cardio,” joked Ashley. “Honestly with those two, I just want to give them good rides. I didn’t really go in there for the win. I went in there for confidence and just like showing them a good ride. That’s really all I can do. They really do the rest.”
And true to history, mist came into Patty’s eyes as Ashley accepted her loot—another night of family traditions for Rolling Acres.
The Chronicle will be on-site at the Pennsylvania National bringing you beautiful photos, interviews and more, so check back throughout the competition. Don’t forget to follow the Chronicle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Chronofhorse. We will have full analysis of the competition in the Nov. 5 issue of the magazine.