When a family friend visited Bar None Ranches in Dewinton, AB last January in search of a couple of broodmares, it was Issabella Kerr who also found herself with a lovely new mare. The friend forwarded pictures of Ava’s Angel to Kerr who was amazed by how much this mare looked like her very first horse, also an off track thoroughbred. Since Kerr was searching for a new horse at the time, she went ahead with the purchase of Ava’s Angel and picked her up from Bar None in February.

Kerr had a few second thoughts as, “the moment we pulled her off the trailer, we doubted our choice because of how hot headed she was.”

Those doubts quickly vanished however after Ava spent a month relaxing at a friend’s barn just “being a horse” before she was taken to a performance barn to begin an under saddle program. The program consisted of taking Ava back to basics and working hard on her flat work and ground manners since “she’s a big girl.”

The first few months presented other challenges and were extremely rough as Ava went through a series of serious medical complications. Within a month of beginning training, Ava hit her head and cracked her orbital bone, which further developed into a bone infection. A week later, she ended up lacerating her lower eyelid and was out of work until May. During that time, Ava was also hospitalized for five days due to cellulitis caused by a case of scratches that became infected. Undeterred, Kerr used the time during the two months off to focus on developing trust and a strong bond with her new mare. Kerr was rewarded for her commitment when she got back on Ava and the mare acted perfectly, “as if she never even had a day off and developed so well that, in June, she competed in her first hunter show and placed first, second and two thirds; she showed all year at schooling shows placing at every event we went to, hunters or jumpers, it didn’t matter. She amazed everyone.”

Kerr and Ava recently competed at the Rocky Mountain Show Jumping (RMSJ) Santa Claus Classic and “did amazing.” Kerr said she plans to continue competing at RMSJ throughout this year and her goal is “just to enhance her [Ava’s] natural talents.” The strong ability that Ava shows for jumping continues to impress Kerr.

“She is an amazing jumper and it definitely took me by surprise. Jumping is her favourite part of lessons. She would jump the moon if I asked her to, she’s the bravest and most confident 4-year-old I’ve ever worked with – we plan to compete all year again and go to cross country schooling and hopefully clinics, if it’s in the budget!”

Ava is also very trustworthy and reliable under saddle and will “jump whatever is put in front of her.” Ava and Kerr are in a consistent lesson program and usually work together six days a week.

Ever since her very first horse, who was also an off track thoroughbred, this breed and their personality are the ideal choice for Kerr. Ava’s character is definitely helping her to shine in her second career.

“Ava is extremely gentle, loving and caring,” Kerr said. “She is the horse that makes friends with literally everyone. In her eyes, the work is sunshine and rainbows and nothing is going to take that away from her.”

Kerr emphasizes that, “I wouldn’t trade her for an Olympic jumper because our bond is so strong. I know she would do anything I asked of her.”

Ava’s Angel was a homebred filly for Bar None Ranches by Schramsberg out of their Rahy mare, Lilies for Rozie. Ava ran for two seasons, finishing her career with $7,239 in earnings and a record of one win and one second including a stakes victory in the Bullys Futurity. Shaun Rathy, assistant manager of breeding operations at Bar None said that, in her race career, Ava was a friendly, athletic filly but “just wasn’t happy being a racehorse. After a little downtime, she found her way to Issabella, who has brought her along beautifully in the short time they’ve been a team! It’s hard to believe that this promising young mare is only five years old and we’re excited to see what the future holds for them.”

Best of luck to this wonderful partnership in the upcoming season as they continue their success together.