Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco equestrian raises thousands for hospice, feels agency's comfort

Chloe had been in perfect health. At first, the slight limp caused little concern.

Ashlyn Head couldn't wait to get home from school to run her through the lush hills around her neighborhood near Dade City. She loved this 22-year-old black thoroughbred/quarter horse mix who had carried her to a room full of medals and ribbons in racing competition.

At age 10, Ashlyn rode Chloe to help patients at Gulfside Regional Hospice. They earned $500 in pledges, more than anyone else. The next two years, riding with the Pasco Sheriff's Mounted Posse, they more than tripled that figure. Ashlyn carried the American flag to lead the Ride for Hospice. She felt proud, but at such a tender age she didn't fully appreciate the mission of the charity she supported.

That soon would change.

When Chloe's limp got worse in September 2011, Ashlyn's grandmother, Judy Tyler, called a veterinarian. Chloe had laminitis, a disease that causes chronic inflammation and pain in horses' feet. She would not get better.

Ashlyn, then 12, made the decision. She could not allow Chloe to suffer. Her grandfather, Ed Tyler, drove a tractor to the back of their property and dug a deep hole. Ashlyn led Chloe to what would become a grave moments after the veterinarian's injection. Ashlyn marked it with a cross full of hearts and a message: "I will always love you.''

"After Chloe died, I didn't want another horse. I didn't want to ride anymore,'' Ashlyn said last week. "I just felt so bad. My friends and family helped me get through it.''

• • •

Ashlyn had already been lauded for her contributions to hospice. Now she had a personal view of the comforting and counseling that is so important to those dealing with the death of a love one.

The Tylers found her a new horse, a 6-year-old chocolate brown Appaloosa/thoroughbred mix gelding named Mocha. Just as she had done with Chloe, Ashlyn rode Mocha in barrel race and pole bend competitions and at the Ride for Hospice. She collected more than $1,200 in each of the last two campaigns for a five-year total of $6,500.

"Ashlyn is amazing,'' said Gulfside president Linda Ward. "It has been such a pleasure to watch her grow into such a beautiful, compassionate young lady.''

Ashlyn and her mother, Christina Head, a manager with Ruby Tuesday in Tampa, moved in with the Tylers in part so she could afford to attend the East Pasco Adventist Academy. She's a straight-A student about to enter the ninth grade. Her goal after high school is to attend the University of Florida and study veterinary science.

Last week, she helped her grandmother conduct one of her regular five-day horse camps for girls 7 to 13. Tyler, who originated the Ride for Hospice along with her friend Kym Corkum, grew up on the property and has always had horses. She also rides with the sheriff's posse.

Ashlyn was excited about the latest girls camp, because this time she had a title: counselor. "She's more than ready to teach other kids,'' Tyler said.

• • •

One day recently, Ashlyn waited until the sun dropped a bit before leading Mocha from his stall. It was still hot, so she rode bareback. "Mocha likes it better this way,'' she said.

Usually she rides to music, with her taste ranging from Christian to '80s rock n' roll. She likes Aerosmith, Bon Jovi and Journey. At the end of the ride, Mocha snorted loudly to get attention. He wanted his treat — a lime green ice pop.

Ashlyn's room reflects the obvious. Shelves line her walls and every square inch includes a miniature ceramic or plastic horse, even one or two unicorns. Medals, ribbons and trophies take up the rest of the room, along with acrylic paintings Ashlyn created — yes, of horses.

She can't wait to turn 18 so she can join the sheriff's posse. In the meantime, she has set another lofty goal for the hospice.

You can bet on her making it.

Pasco equestrian raises thousands for hospice, feels agency's comfort 07/19/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 11:59am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: No more VinikVille as Water Street Tampa finally arrives


    Adios, VinikVille! Hello Water Street Tampa.

    An aerial rendering of the $3 billion redevelopment project that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners plan on 50-plus acres around Amalie Arena.
[Rendering courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]
  2. Finally, Jeff Vinik's vision has a name: Water Street Tampa


    TAMPA — For years, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and the real estate executives he employs have been dreaming how to transform 53 acres of downtown Tampa into a major hub of living, working and entertaining in the city's core.

    Strategic Property Partners announced the name of its new development: Water Street Tampa. This rendering shows the Tampa skyline with SPP's future buildings in place. [Photos courtesy of SPP]
  3. Future, Ruff Ryders reunion tour coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa


    Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre is in the midst of a killer summer of rock (Green Day, Muse, Linkin Park) and country (Sam Hunt, Lady Antebelleum, Dierks Bentley).

  4. Rubio remains noncommital on Obamacare replacement but a likely yes vote


    Sen. Marco Rubio has been bombarded with phone calls, emails and on Monday, protests took place outside his offices in Doral and Palm Beach Gardens. But while the effort is most unlikely to dissuade the Florida Republican from voting for the Obamacare replacement -- if it even comes up for a vote this week -- he remains …

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks at an event in Miami, Friday, June 16, 2017, where President Donald Trump announced a revised Cuba policy aimed at stopping the flow of U.S. cash to the country's military and security services while maintaining diplomatic relations.
  5. James Wilder Jr. back at running Canada


    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.