Mutt ‘n Jeff

Ashley, with Avanto & Sunni

Friday, November 19, 2021 (November’s fullest moon [“Beaver”] rises TONIGHT.)

It was one of the best rides! Ashley’s big jumping horse strolled slowly, my little pony easily stayed alongside. And, Ashley and I talked, really talked! I loved knowing her more.

She’s a do-er, has a terrific mind, is trustworthy. Besides, we both love our farrier, Russ. Ashley has known him since she was 13 years old. These days, he drives regularly from his home in California’s Mount Bishop, to Bend, to care for Avanto’s hooves. Somehow, I discovered Russ and he also cares for my ponies’ hooves.

For 30 years, Russ has been a farrier, and trims/shoes athletic horses, mules, and donkeys. He fully understands hoof shapes, equine movements, knows what he’s doing. Happily, his politics are similar to mine and we share viewpoints and humor as he’s working on my ponies.

Ashley’s has two adopted horses, both were free because they suffered from debilitating hoof conditions. She first adopted a big mare that fell into uselessness because she had hooves breaking apart and a club foot. Russ rescued the mare’s hooves, and Ashley rides her regularly. The horse walks rapidly, won’t be slowed, and companion riders usually trot to keep up.

For our ride, she brought tall Avanto. I had anticipated having to keep my pony, Sunni, trotting to stay up. But that big guy was easy, strolled slowly, and I could learn more his glorious story.

His jumping career was finished, his hooves broken and crumbling, himself very lame. Veterinarians and farriers considered his hooves beyond repair, his owners were seeking a gentle retirement home. Ashley heard about this.

She landed Avanto, after taking Russ to see and evaluate his hooves. Russ recognized the extent of damage, said he’d try to rehab those hooves. In those days, Russ while working on my horses told me about Avanto’s hooves, about some challenges ahead to make repairs.

Fast forward, to now. Avanto’s hooves still require some re-building using plasters and such, and he wears “bar shoes” created by Russ. One looking at Avanto notices that he moves straightly, beautifully, gracefully.

Last summer, Ashley entered Avanto in a major California jumping competition. She describes the instant Avanto exited her trailer, says he knew where he was. He changed completely, became very alert and poised to do his job. They had entered three classes. In the first, they took 7th place. In the second, 5th place, and in the third, “a biggie” class, took 3rd.

She rejoices that Avanto again jumps against competitors that are valued at $400,000, and might be on his way toward regaining dominance. They’ll return soon to CA for another major competition, where Avanto’s previous owners will see him in action.

Ashley is thrilled. Russ seems calmly proud of his work. I’m in awe.

Avanto’s recovery has pushed Ashley’s already-honed riding skills. She works with a top jumping trainer, to correctly sit on, exercise, and jump this horse.

He’s a gentle, kind beast. Looking at him, strolling alongside, one might consider him pretty without guessing he’s a world-class jumper. Ashley speaks of “finding a free” $400,000 horse, and has un-ending thanks for knowing Russ.

She says Russ has taken photos that document each step to rehabilitate Avanto’s hoofs. Next week Russ again will be in town, I’ll ask his plans for doing more with the story.

As to our trail ride, Avanto and Sunni were a cute pair. We enjoyed how alike they look (aside from size differences). Both are black-dappled, have “diamond & snip” face-markings, and both are “mouthy types”.

Me, with Avanto & Sunni

Dear Friends: Out riding, talking “horses-and-people”, my head’s a happy place. Diana

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