Ashlea Day’s Amazing New Life Up Top
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
FRANKFURT, Germany, Dec. 16–Ashlea Day is living her dream of riding and an intense competition schedule in the United States that has taken her and the horse she brought from Australia to the Young Rider World Cup Final.
And the future is looking bright as she and CP Perolus are “dabbling” in the Grand Prix and whether they’re ready to go into the competition arena at that level is too early to say. But they will be heading to Florida’s winter circuit that is probably the most intense schedule anywhere in the world–11 CDIs over three months with total prize money of well above $400,000 (€310,000) all within 30 minutes of the heart of the equestrian scene in Wellington.
Ashlea, aged 21 so will not get another chance at Young Riders, admits she has been “very lucky” to get “this mind blowing experience” to make it to Frankfurt with the 14-year-old gray KWPN gelding that Roger Fitzhardinge found for her at Rachael Sanna’s barn in Sydney three years ago.
“This has been so great,” she told dressage-news.com after riding the opening Prix St. Georges in the Festhallen decorated for Christmas and packed with spectators.
“It’s so much bigger than anything we have experienced before. It’s huge. Everything is so exciting and big.”
She’s is in Frankfurt with her mother, Donna, and said she is grateful that her coach, Silva Martin, is German as it has helped getting acclimated in an environment she’s never before encountered.
Ashlea moved to America after Silva, who was her coach in Australia, and her eventing husband, Boyd Martin, relocated to Pennsylvania.
She brought Perolus with her.
“He has taught me a lot,” she said. “I had never ridden FEI before we bought him. It has been a big learning curve, but he has taught me so much.
“He was fresh and spooky (in Frankfurt because we have never ridden in such an indoor, big and with a lot of atmosphere.”
World Cup qualifiers in the U.S. were not the best preparation as all were outdoors and in large, spacious venues.
With her experience of the past couple of years, she is now focused on “riding, riding, riding.” The graphic design course she took after completing high school won’t be much help.
She has found a huge amount of opportunity in the U.S., with bigger and far greater number of competitions, a “scene that is so much bigger” than in Australia.
Although she has some young horses in Australia that she wants to develop, Perolus taught her a lot about Prix St. Georges/Intermediaire I so “I hope he will teach me the Grand Prix.”
No matter where she lives, Ashlea confesses she has “that Aussie blood” that makes her proud to represent her country.
And, she added: “It’s kind of cool to be a foreigner in a country. It’s a novelty. I haven’t been in the United States long enough for it not to be a novelty. Everything is different, new to the way I used to do it. Being Australian amidst it all is very cool.”
She will go back to Australia forChristmas and apply for a visa to return to the U.S. fulltime.