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Could Lightning Strike Twice? by Erica Larson


orinne Ashton’s horse of a lifetime is Dobbin, a flashy and opinionated chestnut gelding. Under Corinne’s guidance, this incredible athlete became one of

America’s premier three-day event horses, competing at the four-star level and taking home championship ribbons regularly. After an injury forced Dobbin to take several months off, however, this icon decided it was time for a career change. Now, he and Corinne are working to become the first horse and rider team to compete at both four-star eventing and Grand Prix dressage. Born in 1994, Dobbin (by

Lyphelius) began his partnership with Corinne when she bought him as an untrained three- year-old Thoroughbred near her hometown of Princeton, Massachusetts. Corinne found Dobbin a quick study, which allowed the pair to proceed rapidly up the levels. By 2000, they were winning at Intermediate level. In 2002, the pair competed in their first Advanced horse trial, where they finished second. In 2005, the pair competed in their first of three Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Events, where they finished 16th. In the following years, Dobbin cemented his place in the

sport horse snippets

One older four star event horse switches to FEI dressage.

They inserted a lavage and supplied Corinne with some medication to heal the eye. Despite treatment, the ulcer persisted. In January 2010, Corinne brought Dobbin and the rest of her horses to Aiken for the winter. She sought medical attention for Dobbin from the top ocular specialists in the world. As the ulcer still refused to heal, concern that the eye would need surgery magnified. Hoping to either avoid surgery

(or at least use the best surgeon to perform it), Corinne made her way to Florida, where Dr. Dennis Brooks—the world’s top authority on ophthalmology—took on Dobbin’s case. Dr. Brooks chose to make a few alterations to Dobbin’s treatment regimen to see if the ulcer would heal before he turned to surgery. Thankfully, the change in

Corrine and Dobbin compete at Prix St. Georges. Photo by Erica Larson

treatment proved successful and the ulcer began to heal. Several weeks later—and more than four months after the injury occurred—

Dr. Brooks approved Dobbin to return to competition. Although

scar tissue remained leaving a visible scar, Dobbin retained the vision in his eye without surgery. As Corinne brought Dobbin back to work, however, she

record books. In 2007, he took first place at the American Eventing Championships in the Advanced division, finishing ahead of American Olympians and their mounts. At the conclusion of a stellar 2008 season, Dobbin was awarded the title of Horse of the Year from the United States Eventing Association. He and Corinne were named to the USEF High Performance B List. Many people had high hopes for Corinne and Dobbin

in 2009. The team had a brilliant start at the 2009 Rolex Kentucky event, sitting in fifth after dressage. But a back injury forced Corinne to withdraw from the competition. A brilliant second place finish at the Bromont CIC*** returned the pair to the Team Selectors’ radar. Then, Corinne received a grant to bring Dobbin to

England for the Burghley Horse Trials. However in their final preparation event, the pair parted ways on cross-country, preventing them from crossing the ocean. Although 2009 hadn’t gone as planned, Corinne intended to give it another shot in 2010. However on December 31, 2009, their plans took an unexpected turn when Dobbin had a piece of grass stuck in his eye. The staff at the Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine found a laceration on Dobbin’s cornea and a subsequent ulcer.

56 September/October 2011

noticed a change in his attitude towards jumping. The horse who once attacked every fence was now finding excuses to stop. After a few competitions—some successful and others not—Corinne gave some serious thought to what would be best for the then 16 year old horse. She attempted to retire Dobbin, however the gelding

quickly became bored. It was then that Corinne decided to take a shot at history. Over the years, Dobbin excelled in the dressage phase. So Corinne decided to try the flashy gelding in the dressage world…hoping to become the first horse and rider team to compete in both four-star eventing and Grand Prix dressage. With the help of a trainer, Corinne perfected a few last

details before entering Dobbin in his first competition. As if he’d been doing it his whole life, Dobbin received qualifying scores in both Prix St. Georges and Intermediare I. In his second dressage show, he brought home two blues in 4th Level and Prix St. Georges. Corinne and Dobbin are currently perfecting the

pirouettes and one tempi changes, and practicing piaffe and passage. Corinne hopes to be able to compete the now 17 year old horse at Grand Prix in the next year or so if everything goes according to plan. Will lightning strike twice? Only time will tell.


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