EN’s Got Talent: Laine Ashker and Calling All Comets

We hear all the time about horses at the top of the sport, but what about the next generation of equine talent? EN’s Got Talent introduces the future superstars of the sport, interviewing riders about how they’re tackling training with these youngsters. Have you spotted a spectacular young horse at an event you think should be highlighted in this column? Tip me at [email protected].

Laine and Calling All Comets in the William Fox Pitt clinic. Photo by Kate Samuels. Laine and Calling All Comets in the William Fox Pitt clinic. Photo by Kate Samuels.

Laine Ashker and her mother, Valerie, are well known on the eventing circuit for, among many other things, their keen eye and unmatched ability to spot and bring along Thoroughbred event prospects. It would only make sense, then, that the pair would also try their hand at breeding in an effort to produce the best homebred event horses possible. This was the goal when Valerie bred her mare, Paula’s Accolade, to the famed Thoroughbred sire Comet Shine. We are all familiar with one of Comet Shine’s most beloved offspring, the legendary Courageous Comet, who was campaigned by Becky Holder at the Advanced and CCI4* level. Come Shine has become one of the most sought after sires for sporthorse breeding, and so Valerie jumped at the opportunity to breed her mare.

The result of this pairing was a bay colt who would be named Calling All Comets. “(Calling All Comets) is our first homebred out of Paula’s Accolade. My mother got her as a broodmare prospect,” Laine said. Valerie and Laine registered Calling All Comets with the Jockey Club even though the foal would not be trained as a racehorse. “We register all of our horses with the Jockey Club for several reasons. First, it brings awareness to the breed and the Thoroughbred Incentive Program awards. Also, the stamp of approval from the Jockey Club is helpful in promoting the essence of what I stand for, which is rehoming Thoroughbreds. It really helps bring awareness to help bring Thoroughbreds back into a prominent place in the sport.”

Calling All Comets spent most of his younger days on the West Coast with Valerie, who gave him time to grow into himself before sending him East to Laine to begin his event training. “My mom was the one who started him. There is truly nobody better at starting horses than her,” Laine said. “She actually did a lot of Tevis Cup-type competition with him, which really got his brain ready for eventing because the things that he saw and was exposed to made him very brave. My mom did an amazing job with him.” The Tevis Cup is an endurance riding event, and it is a true test of horsemanship. Navigating spooky trails filled with obstacles to find ways around or over did wonders for Calling All Comets’ bravery, and Laine now feels that this will carry over into his training to be an event horse.

Calling All Comets came east to begin his eventing career in June 2013. Laine remarked that her homebred was blessed with beautiful natural movement. “He is really an amazing mover. I’ve never had the luxury of having something that is naturally an amazing mover,” Laine said. “I’ve been used to creating the movement, so it’s a nice change from what I’m used to.”

As with many Comet Shine offspring, Calling All Comets can be a bit tempermental. “He is a very stoic, brave, brazen horse. With the jumping, though, he is very point and shoot. Even when he is unsure or green to a fence, he still has the attack mentality. That, in addition to his talent, is a big indicator of how successful he will be. The sheer attitude alone is a big deal, and he is also very trusting because he is a homebred so he knows me and respects me.”

Next week on EN’s Got Talent: Laine tells us about how she began Calling All Comets’ eventing career, including participating in a clinic with William Fox-Pitt.

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