Back in the saddle: From critical condition to Olympic hopeful

By Joe Sullivan- bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Laine Ashker from Crozier, Virginia is just back from the Rolex Kentucky three day event. This is the highest level for equestrians...and Laine's first time back to Lexington since she nearly died in a fall there two years ago.

April 26th 2008 Laine Ashker was riding a horse she loved, "Frodo Baggins". As the horse approached a jump he flipped over landing on Laine. Laine was in coma and in critical condition with all of her ribs broken and punctured lungs. Two years had passed since the accident and it was time to return to the scene of so much sadness. As one of the top equestrians in the world, Laine knew this is a fear she had to conquer.

"It was definitely hard to enter those gates - to drive into the horse park. As the weekend progressed I gained more confidence with him. It was definitely a spiritual, emotional and every kind of struggle you can think of," said Laine.

Her return to Lexington was a success. She was perfect in the cross country event. Overall at Rolex she finished 14th internationally and 8th nationally. Two years ago she left the event on a helicopter headed to the hospital. Now the 26 year old UVA graduate was leaving with a smile on her face.

"Al (her horse) really stepped up to the plate. It was his first time at the four star level. Everything was easy. It was awesome. It was meant to be and I was really happy as I crossed the finish line knowing that all of our preparations to get here paid off. By far it was the best day of my entire life," she said.

Laine began riding when she was only three years old and she's had one dream since she was a little girl and that's to make the United States Olympic team. She has already qualified for the 2012 Olympic team.

"It's been my lifelong dream since I was a little girl and is something that has never changed since day one. I had a poster on my ceiling, always wanting to go to the Olympics. That's the one thing that has stayed constant in my life," Laine said.

Laine won the award for top owner - rider at Rolex. She is currently looking for sponsorship in a sport that costs her over $100,000 a year.

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