Valerie Ashker and Peter Friedman have embarked on a cross-country horseback ride to draw attention to off-the-track thoroughbreds. These are horses that are "put out to pasture" after their racing days. Valerie's goal is to raise awareness of the thoroughbreds' strength, stamina, courage and versatility.
Ashker explains that buyers often travel to Europe and spend tens of thousands of dollars on horses when there are thoroughbreds that can be picked up for much, much less. With the help of a good trainer, these horses can be reconditioned for second careers. Valerie and her daughter Laine have both taken off-the-track thoroughbreds to Rolex, a four-star equine competition in Lexington, Ky., and the highest ranked event of its kind in the U.S.
Laine, one of the nation's leading event riders, plans to join Valerie and Peter this weekend before returning to her ranch in Virginia.
"I've done a lot of things in my life, but this is one of the hardest," Valerie said. Spending day after day in the saddle is grueling, but Valerie said she feels passionate about the cause and is able to pull a lot of energy from her horse.
The 3,300-mile trek began in Georgetown, Calif., when Ashker and Friedman stepped off their ranch and headed east on Highway 50. One rider, one horse, every step of the way. They're accompanied by Willie Gass, who is pulling a horse trailer that carries supplies to make sure both horses and riders remain comfortable. The horses are outfitted with boots, rather than horseshoes, because the boots can be removed for hoof care as necessary.
Horses and riders rest every few days, but have been averaging 20 to 25 miles per day through California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Once they clear the mountains, they hope to pick up the pace a bit. The cross-country trek will end in Virginia and will take an estimated five months.
You can track their progress on Facebook. Valerie posts updates at "2nd Makes Thru Starting Gates."
The election results are in at the local, state and national level, and as expected, Democrats are doing well in state and national races. Colorado has elected Jared Polis as governor; nationally the Republicans appear to retain control of the Senate while Democrats now control the House of Representative.
With a ballot full of local and state measures, voter turnout in Delta County topped 71%, with 15,889 ballots cast. Statewide, voter turnout was just over 52%.
Of the three Delta County residents seeking state offices, Matt Soper won over Thea Chase in State Representative Dist. 54; Mike Mason lost to Julie McCluskie in State Representative Dist. 61; and Olen Lund lost to Kerry Donovan in State Senate Dist. 5.
Locally, in the City of Delta voters rejected a .5% sales tax increase to fund recreation, as well as recreational marijuana sales. The sale of medical marijuana and cultivation/manufacturing facilities was approved by a slim margin. Delta voters also gave the city the green light to move forward with selling or trading the Cottonwood and Riverbend Park, and to sell the old Municipal Light and Power Building.