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Meet the Member Ava Loesch
story by Lily Weinacht
Ava Loesch of Big Spring, Texas, is leading the pole bending in the AJRA 9–12 division. The 9-year-old cowgirl is also sitting in the top five of the breakaway roping and barrel racing, and sixth in the goat tying and ribbon roping. “I started rodeoing when I was 5. My family introduced me to it, and I said I would like to do it,” says Ava. “My mom does barrels and poles and breakaway, and my dad tie-down and team ropes, and he used to steer wrestle.”
The family learned about the AJRA through friends and joined in 2017, and Ava loves to travel to all the rodeos. “It’s fun for her to go to the AJ rodeos because a lot of her good friends are there, and you can tell these kids bring a tremendous amount of dedication to compete at this level, and they all bring out the best in each other,” says Todd Loesch, Ava’s dad. Ava also competes in the Kids Junior Rodeo Association where she does the double mugging with her dad among other events, as well as the West Texas Rodeo Association, and she loves roping and goat tying wherever she goes. “I like when I get out into the arena and I catch my calf, and in goat tying I like getting off and depending on the strength in my body and my horse,” Ava explains. She’s also interested in team roping someday, but is especially focused on breakaway roping.
It’s not unusual for Ava to be down at the barn even before her parents in the morning, horses saddled and roping calves gathered. “It’s a team deal around here—we have about 14 head of horses, and we have roping calves and I’m riding young horses that are coming up for the kids, so everybody falls in and takes care of things,” says Todd. “Ava can go to the barn and take care of every obligation and you know it’s done right.”
Ava runs barrels and poles on her horse Wichita, does her steer breakaway roping on Fish, and goat tying, breakaway roping, double mugging, and ribbon roping on French Fry. “Ava trained French Fry on goats and Wichita was a finished barrel horse and started on poles, so the two of them have really come along together and she’s finished him out real nice,” says Amy Loesch, Ava’s mom. Ava also enjoys helping family friends on their ranches with day work and branding, particularly dragging calves.
She and her 5-year-old sister, Abby Kate, are homeschooled, and they have a 3-year-old brother, Pistol. They turned their bunkhouse into a school room, and Ava, who is entering fourth grade, works to get most of her school done before her weekend fills up with rodeos. She enjoys science and Bible study and going to church with her family, and also likes to spend time riding French Fry with her siblings, and swimming or reading books. While she plans to continue rodeoing as she gets older, her greatest goal is to become a large-animal vet. “We go to Brock Vet Clinic in Lamesa, Texas, and our vet Dustin McElwee helps us a lot,” says Amy. “They let Ava get in there and help out.”
Ava is looking forward to the AJRA Finals in Sweetwater—one of her favorite rodeos—and she is working hard in poles to build her confidence, as well as Wichita’s, to continue to achieve smooth, successful runs as she aims for her first world champion saddle.