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Meet the Member Ava Dole
story by Ruth Nicolaus
They say animals take on the characteristics of their owners, and for Ava Dole, that’s true.
The Colorado Junior High School Rodeo Association member is kind, easy to get along with, isn’t lazy, and gives her all when she attempts something, just like her bay mare, Christine.
She rides Christine for all her events: goat tying, barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, and team roping (heeling for Ryan Pankey).
Christine is even the same age as Ava: 13, and was bred for cutting. The family got the bay a year ago, and she is “super good at all that she does,” her rider reported. “She always tries her hardest and she’ll give you the best she can. She won’t act lazy, and she’s really calm in the alley and in the box.”
Ava has a second horse, an eighteen-year-old bay roan named ATM. He’s an older rope horse who she used last spring for breakaway. But he got a puncture wound over the summer and is on the injury list this fall. He’s as sweet as Christine, and even though she’s calm in the box, he’s “super, super, super duper calm,” Ava said. “And he always gets you right there, every time, no matter how bad the calf is.”
Ava, who is in the eighth grade, is homeschooled. She loves reading, with her favorite genre being mysteries. She’s read several of the Nancy Drew books and is currently reading The Scarlet Pimpernel, a story about the French Revolution.
Living on a ranch near Mesa, Colo., she likes to hunt, and last year was a big year for her: she got a mule deer, elk and an antelope. She enjoys hunting in the family’s “secret spot” in the Rocky Mountains where they found Ava’s elk.
Ava has participated in 4-H for the past four years. She’s shown her dog, Casey, and horses. This year, she rode Christine for the trail course, western pleasure, reining, ranch riding, cow work, and the mare even did a bit of English jumping, which took some practice. The jumping surprised the mare, Ava said. “When we started to lope and go over the log, Christine was like, ‘what are we doing?’ She was confused, but she learned it really fast.” Ava earned a reserve champion ribbon in the horse show at this year’s county fair.
Along with her sisters, Ava does her share of the ranch and housework. She drives the pickup while her mom forks off hay in the winter; her dad works at the fire department. She helps with meals, too, preparing two breakfasts and two dinners per week.
The older kids in the Dole household take turns preparing weekly meals; that night’s cook decides what they’re making, makes sure the ingredients are on hand, prepares the meal, and cleans up.
As the family lives 45 minutes from the nearest grocery store, Ava has to choose her meals carefully, depending on what’s in the pantry. If they are missing an ingredient, “we have to make do with what we have, which is also a life skill,” her mom said.
Ava’s go-to meals are crock-pot meals and casseroles. She likes making chili and soup.
When she grows up, she’d like to be a rancher and a horse trainer.
Her mom says Ava “has a real heart for being kind and compassionate to other people, and being helpful to the family. She has so much energy and is a really fun kid.”
She has an older sister, Madison, who is a college student, and two younger sisters: Ellie, who is nine years old, and Hazel, who is six.
They are the daughters of Burton and Sarah Dole.