by Victoria M. Howard
Have you ever met someone who seems to do it all? You wonder how they have the perpetual energy and tenacious ability to make things happen and do it well.
Ashley Tetrick, the wife of one of harness racing’s top drivers is one of those people. Growing up around riding horses, she wasn’t introduced to the sport of harness racing until 2004.
“One day my friend, Penny Morgan, (wife of driver Tony Morgan) called and asked if I would stand in for the outrider at Balmoral Park who was absent due to gall bladder surgery. Heck, I didn’t even know what an overcheck was at that time,” Ashley said, laughing. “The drivers and trainers at the track were so good to me and helped me learn the ropes that I ended up being a part-time outrider, which paid my way through Purdue University.”
Today, Ashley, Tim, and their daughter, Trysta, make their home on a farm in Southern New Jersey in a town called Woolwich Township.
“Our farm is located approximately 25 minutes from Harrah’s Philadelphia, (50 minutes from Dover Downs); 1 hour and 45 minutes from The Meadowlands and 2 hours from The Poconos.
When we moved to New Jersey I literally held up a map, pinpointed all the racetracks and placed my finger down randomly right in the middle. Luckily, it all worked out.”
How does she manage to keep it all together, taking on the multi-tasks of running a home, farm, being a mother and wife and finding time to help promote and improve harness racing?
“Most people know me as Tim’s wife, and I am very proud of that, but I am also Trysta’s mom, manage our farm, handle the Tetrick Racing Social Media, our online store (TetrickRacingGear.com), my podcast BossMares, and I’m the National Association Director for New Jersey. I wear a lot of different hats, but love each and every one.
“The Tetrick Racing Online Store and social media is truly rewarding because I get to share my passion for harness racing and make it easily attainable for others to do as well. Our average reach each week is over 150,000 people, which I’m very proud of. The online store was a way for me to offset the cost of running an interactive social media network, and to help the Tetrick brand grow. I hope to inspire other harness drivers to do the same, but I admit it is very time consuming.
Recently, I started a podcast with two fellow harness racing women: Winnie Morgan Nemeth (who is the standardbred director at New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program), and Emma Petterson (partner and second trainer to Mark Harder).
Our podcast covers everything from harness racing schedules and racing misconceptions; what our week was like; what it’s like to be a horseman/horsewoman, down to our favorite wine.”
Still finding time to do one of the things she loves best, Ashley barrel races when time allows.
“I have always loved the sport of barrel racing and am currently still competing. Most weekends, unless there’s a big harness race, I’m off at a barrel race or in a rodeo.”
“My daughter, Trysta, now shares my passion for this sport so I recently jumped on board and became a co-director for The National Barrel Horse Association of New Jersey. It is very challenging. I oversee the creation of barrel racing events and schedules, point standings, book keeping, fundraising and year-end awards. It’s a lot of work, but I love it!
“Trysta is just as horse crazy as Tim and I are. I hear a lot of people comment that they hope their children do something other than harness racing, which makes me very sad. I sincerely want Trysta to do whatever makes her happy, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she chose something in harness racing. Maybe that’s why I spend so much time marketing and supporting the sport, so that it can be around long enough for her and other kids like her to enjoy it.
“It’s truly devastating to see such an incredible sport suffer. After watching other sports like the PBR and NASCAR there is no reason that harness racing couldn’t be the same. The first thing I would change is I’d create a central governing power that oversees rules, regulations, medication and everything else. This would eliminate so much nonsense and create a more black-and-white understanding for those whom that are new to the sport.
“The next thing would be to create a social media effort in which each racetrack reports information, photos, results, replays, etc., and collaborates from their home base track to one hub; and we would prepare content 3 to 4 weeks ahead of time to fill in daily information on the fly — a little like what Tetrick Racing does on Facebook. This eliminates obnoxious travel costs and time lags after races. We also need to have an immediate resource for information.
“In the past I would get so tired of searching for replays that I started to share them on my own. It’s very frustrating. In fact, I call harness racing “America’s Best Kept Secret” because our infrastructure is so poor that many people don’t even know we exist.”
Being married to a harness driver may sound exciting but every night he gets behind a horse he takes a risk for it only takes one minute and you’re whole life can change. Throughout the years there have been several superstar drivers who lost their lives in a race, such as the great Bill Haughton and Shelly Goudreau.
“Of course I worry, but in a weird way I try not to think about it. I have to be honest; any time Timmy or any other driver calls me during the races (which thankfully is rare) my heart sinks. You can’t help but assume the worst. Lately, Tim has been on the road 7 days a week — working 15 hours a day — so even driving to and from the tracks is dangerous.
“Regardless of what’s happening in our day-to-day lives I always try to say, ‘I love you,’ and kiss him before he walks out the door. You just never know.”