Monday January 24 2011
There's one less set of hoofprints on the endurance trails.
Jackie Bumgardner's horse Sierra Fadrazal+/ , aka Ross, was put down Friday at home in Ridgecrest, California at 33 years of age. Jackie bought him as a youngster shortly after buying his sire Sierra Fadwah (who lived to 31 years of age); and Ross and Jackie spent more than 20 years on the endurance trails together.
He carried 24 different riders over his career, and was always eager to go down the trail. His ears would prick forward, his head would go up in the air and his long legs would fly into overdrive as he ate up the miles.
Never lame, his record speaks volumes: 8430 AERC miles, 145 starts and 145 finishes, 14 hundred mile finishes, including 4 consecutive Tevis buckles (1985-6-7-8) and three straight Virginia City buckles (1985-6-7), 9 Best Condition awards.
He completed his last 50 mile ride in 2002, but he continued to carry riders on LDs until his last one in 2005 on his home summer turf of Bridgeport, California in Jackie's Eastern High Sierra Classic ride. After that, he continued his work as 'Uncle Ross', breaking new horses to the trails by ponying them. Most memorably, he was Zayante's best friend since 1995 - the two of them were inseparable for 16 years.
I saw Ross the week before he died. We'd spent a lot of training miles together, summers in Bridgeport, winters in Ridgecrest. Ross stopped eating to come up to me. He sniffed and sniffed my hands, Hi, my old friend, and he stood there while I scratched his back and sides, and he lifted his neck so I could scratch beneath it.
He left for the next world on Friday.
Goodbye, my Old Friend.