It’s full spring, practically early summer, and I finally have some time for riding, so I’ve been working to get poor old (20 this year if I recall correctly, which, these days, is late-middle age for a horse) Dakota in shape after a long winter of not being ridden. We started with very short rides, increasing the distance every time, and he’s doing great. He started on a supplement last fall – a bunch of things that are supposed to support joint health – and, judging by how happy he is to go out, it has made a huge difference in how he feels.
We started out with about a 45 minute ride, yesterday, after only two weeks, we were up to two hours.
One day, we went up the Spalding trail.
Dakota tends to be a bit jumpy sometimes, and Chico has gotten under his feet (only once, but that was enough), so Chico keeps his distance from Dakota.
Another day we rode a big loop – up Cleveland Hill to the Sandwich town line where the road regains its old name – Stevenson Hill, around to the Quaker Meeting House where we turned onto Brown Hill Road,
All three of us came back feeling pretty good. Both Dakota and Chico had some spring in their step and I came off Dakota not too-stiff-to-move. Chico and I went to agility class in the evening, and we both had plenty of energy – Chico even jumped a few obstacles that were set at twenty-two inches*.
Perhaps neither I or the animals in my care are getting enough exercise. I’ll have to make the time to ride more often, and go further.
*For readers who wonder about jump heights, Chico is a shade under twenty inches at the shoulder, so in AKC trials, he would be asked to jump twenty inches, and twenty-two inches in USDAA. Dogs are allowed to compete in “preferred” classes where they jump one height class below what would normally be required of them. We started Chico in preferred because Julie thought that being at a trial, with all the other dogs and confusion, was hard enough; she didn’t want the obstacles themselves to present any challenge. In addition, age has benefits: Chico is eight, and all dogs over seven are allowed to run preferred.