In 2022, Laine Ashker won her first FEI class with Lovedance in the 2*L at the November Virginia Horse Trials. The pair repeated history today, but this time, rode away with the win in the CCI 3*-S with a score of 46.4.
Ashker attributed her successful dressage score on her long warm up. “It was so cold, I had three layers on and could hardly zip up my boots,” she laughed. “’Lottie’ is very sensitive and so we had a really long warm up. I went in with a very relaxed horse and am really glad I took that time. It was a very nice test.”
Ashker and Lovedance had a rail in the stadium phase but were able to hold their lead because of their dressage score. “It was a weird, greener rail for us in stadium. I’ve ridden Michel’s [Vaillancourt] courses a lot and I think he’s very technical and really makes the riders think. I must have walked that course at least three times. Courses that make you think help us develop better horsemanship skills and I think my horse learned a lot from it too. I’m a ‘thoroughbred girl’ and I’m learning how to adjust to her stride. She’s really taught me how to ride proper show jumping and I couldn’t have asked anymore from her,” she commented,
“I didn’t think the cross country was an easy course, but Jay [Hambly] built a great course,” she continued. “The turf was really rideable, and I could go fast. I feel like the Virginia Horse Center has really worked on the footing which is so important. I have one FEI horse. If she breaks, I have nothing. I feel like Virginia made a lot of effort aerating the turf to create the best possible footing they could.”
“I took one circle at the first water between the two elements just to give her a straight shot at the angles coming out because it was similar to the situation at Plantation, and I just wanted to give her a confident ride this weekend. She paid me back tenfold for that! She finished with so much ease and hardly any effort. I didn’t plan to win, I just wanted to finish the year on a good note. She’s only seven years old and I plan to bring her to Advanced as a nine-year-old. I love the training process, creating a connection and trust with my horses and really just enjoy the journey.”
“Virginia Horse Center is definitely a ‘vibe’ for me,” said Ashker. “Last year I won my first FEI win in the 2*-L and this year I won my first CDI 1* with Ann Wilson’s Zeppelin at MADFest. I came here this week with Lovedance and had no expectations except to finish. To win today was really icing on the cake!”
“I’ve had the worst luck this year in 3*! The first time I took her [Lottie] out this year she had a hive breakout after dressage, so I scratched. The week before the Maryland Horse Trials, I was cross county schooling, fell off and broke my nose. So, I moved us to Prelim instead and then after she jumped the ditch and coffin, she fell, and I fell off. Then we went to Great Meadows. We were in third after dressage but had three rails in the stadium and then I pulled her because the ground was too hard for cross country. Then at Plantation, we were super in dressage and stadium jumping and then retired at the seventh fence because she didn’t understand the question. I’ve never had a cross country penalty with her, and I think she was pretty surprised, so she ran out.”
Ashker continued, “Basically, I’ve been schooling corners since I left Great Meadows. I just kept working on my show jumping and I schooled corners. I even stopped at Plain Dealings on my way here to trot her over a ditch and through the water. She is really young and green, and I just want to make sure she is confident. When I thought I had lost her trust at Plantation, I went back to schooling. I didn’t care about where we finished. I could have finished second to last this weekend, but I was stoked how she performed in all three phases, and you can’t ask for anything more.”
Ashker’s win was sentimental as well. Her mother took time off of work and was there to witness her win. Ashker added, “My grandfather passed away about a month ago and he was very competitive. I think maybe he was cheering us on this weekend.”
“It is all about perseverance and I am grateful to my parents for instilling that value in me,” said Ashker.
Kim Severson and Roz and Bill Johnson’s Cooley Corraghy Diamond Victorious in CCI2*-S
Kim Severson and Cooley Corraghy Diamond won today’s CCI2*-S today with a score of 33.2. “He was very good over the cross country and really took good care of me,” she said. “While you always have a plan, you never really know what it’s going to be. When you’re riding cross country, you have to ride what you can get,” she said.
“I went out at 8:02 this morning and the sun wasn’t even up. As we got down to the first water the sun was just coming up over the horizon and it was tough to see. There was little bit of a question at the first combination, but he went down the hill in three quite easily. It was very rideable, he galloped along nicely and we finished up quite well.”
According to Severson, Cooley Corraghy Diamond has a big heart and tries very hard. “He is a shy horse and is really sort of a ‘one person’ sort of horse. With me having a small program, he definitely rises to the occasion,” she said. “He’s had a pretty good record in cross country and stadium and we are still working on dressage, but he tries really hard. He’s a thinker and he always wants to guess what you want. We are patient with him without pushing him and that’s imperative to his learning curve. He is a special horse for the future,” she added.
Severson found Cooley Corraghy Diamond through Georgie and Richard Sheane. “I was one of their first American clients and I’ve bought a lot of Cooley horses,” said Severson. “Bill and Roz Johnson purchased him for me as a four-year-old, so I’ve had him for about two years. I am thankful to Bill and Roz for giving me their support and providing me such a great horse to ride. It’s a great feeling to have great owners, the ones that say, ‘whatever is best for the horse’.”
VHC Eventing presented by Capital Square wraps up their season for 2023 and Severson is hopeful that they will move up to Intermediate in the spring.