Ashley Eve is an Ontario eventer and frequent contributor to EN’s #EventerProblems series. As Ashley says, “I’ve got 99 problems… and apparently my horse is every single one!” A former dressage rider, she entered the world of eventing as an adult amateur upon the arrival of a special horse, Monty, into her life. She chronicles their adventures (and misadventures) together on her blog Super Paint in Training. We asked her to tell us a little more about herself and her very colorful — both literally and figuratively! — horse, and she kindly agreed. Thanks for sharing, Ashley!
I own the most charismatic, life of the party, APHA gelding in the world. FSG Montana Dust, or Monty, is a future eventer that provides anything but a dull day! Stay tuned for ramblings of our good and bad days, funny stories and frustrations. If anything this blog is going to be an online journal of our adventures together, and there are always a lot! After a setback in 2015, related to tack, we are ready to take on the world, errr, Ontario, one stride at a time! PC: Ian Woodley
How does a lifelong dressage diva end up turning to eventing? The drinks! Just kidding (mostly!).
Truthfully, I am not overly brave or bold but I was drawn to the sense of community (which says a lot for an extroverted introvert like me! It is a real thing, I promise!), relaxed atmosphere and acceptance of one and all — both horse and people.
I grew up in Windsor, Ontario, around the incredible Rosemary and Julie O’Connell. I first met them at Southern Cross Equestrian Centre, at the age of 5 with my terror New Forest Pony ironically named Prince, from his registered name Forest Hill Prince Albert. They were my first introduction to eventing.
Proof my parents didn’t own a camera. One of my only Prince pictures!
While I enjoyed eventing for fun, and playing on my homemade cross country course at my family farm, aka whatever I could scrounge up and hide out in the hay field, the horror stories of death via jumping (carefully placed in my head by my mother) left me to play in the “sand box” growing up. The amazing Heather Buchner, a Canadian Young Riders Dressage team member, took me under her wing while dreams of Young Riders bounded in my head.
My incredibly talented mare, First Love (Lovey), came from The Horse People Inc. and was originally bred to be an upper level eventer (Talk about a missed opportunity!). I turned her into my dressage star and all was going well until ONE season (No, that is not a typo. One season.) into our competitive career together nagging injuries started to creep up.
I attempted a second year, and my family graciously funded every newly researched supplement on the market; however that year we only made it to a handful of shows prior to our deciding to retire her at the ripe ol’ age of 7. Talk about crushing.
Stigmas in the Show Ring: I Always Dreamed of Having a Paint
To backtrack a bit, I was never allowed to own a paint, or any unusually coloured horse, growing up. Dark bays and black horses filled my family stable as to not draw negative attention while showing in dressage. I still feel, from my recent personal experience, that Paints and Quarter Horses are stigmatized as “western” horses, particularly in certain disciplines. Even my newsletters from APHA barely showcase the versatility of the Paint within English disciplines.
Anyway, I didn’t think much of it as a child or teen. Ironically, when I met Monty I was looking at black Yellowcreek fillies to develop into my future eventing prospect.
Monty, a Dream Come True
While the Yellowcreek offspring were lovely my attention was drawn to the recent arrival, a blood bay Paint x Quarter Horse in the quarantine paddock (APHA, FSG Montana Dust. PQR Im Apollo x Watch Convoy Blazer, of FSG Farms in Ontario.)
It wasn’t necessarily his colour that caught my attention, or that I was looking to work on breaking stereotypes with a horse of a different colour, but his curiosity and that “twinkle” in his eye.
After finally getting him out of the paddock (He had other ideas), discovering he has two small bumps on his forehead (his “devil” horns) and watching him move, I was sold. He had all the markings of a solid prospect for eventing. I wasn’t looking for a Rolex horse. I wanted a young horse to develop and grow with, working through the levels together until they, or my budget, maxed out. He was my guy.
Eventing, Welcome One and All
What drew my attention back to eventing was the sense of community. (Also the fact that every professional to work with Monty asked if I planned to event him. His awesome vet calls him “busy body/ busy minded”).
In the eventing community everyone had something nice to say about everyone else and did not hesitate to lend a helping hand. Paint, Thoroughbred, Warmblood, etc., they were all welcome and celebrated for their achievements.
It didn’t matter that Monty wasn’t an imported Warmblood, wasn’t 17-hands with legs for days, or that his mane will never sit on the right side (literally no matter WHAT I do!). It didn’t matter if I couldn’t afford the latest IT helmet, or breeches, or if my socks had holes in them. In fact, it was celebrated through series like “Eventer Problems” on Eventing Nation.
Also, the “Horse of a Different Colour” (Yes, I’m Canadian. I spell it with a ‘u’!) series actually brings attention to colours in eventing!
First Show Season
Our 2015 season was interrupted, early in the season, due to saddle fit technicalities (You could say he is hard to fit but luckily Julia, from Schleese, came to the rescue!).
Monty was an absolute star when we were able to get out and get experience. He seemed to ooze confidence and a sense of “this is where I belong.” The judge graciously gave the newbie baby as much time as he needed to walk around before we began our test. Old and new friends took a moment to congratulate Monty and I on his first show. Everyone was kind and didn’t hesitate to strike up a conversation, share an umbrella or hold your horse for you (or move their car, to give you extra space to work when your horse decided he was NOT loading for the sixth time that day!).
This was new territory for me. Leaving Twisted Pine that day I WANTED to become more involved in the eventing community.
So here I am. The 2016 show season is upon us, whether mother nature agrees or not.
We have a new Schleese Merci to train in (I am working on the husband approving an Obrigado next!), an Ambassador position with Horsey Bits Treats (Monty’s absolute favourite treat. This must be a sign of good things to come!) and a bright future ahead of us!
I am proud to consider myself an evente (even if being brave enough for cross country requires an increase in my LCBO budget!), I love sharing my “Eventer Problems,” and I can’t wait to show the world (OK, Ontario!) what the American Paint Horse can do!
While my budget could never bring Monty to the upper levels, even if he is able to achieve that level of success, I hope to show Ontario that a good horse is a good horse, regardless of colour (or which side his mane falls on!).