I was thrilled to take Freedom out hunting last weekend. There were certainly times when I never thought he’d feel sound enough to do it and I had come to terms with the idea that he might have to scale down his activities.
But, after injecting his SI joints (minimal impact) and 8 weeks of Doxycyclene, he’s feeling a lot better. He’s still not 100 percent, but I think that some of it is that he anticipates pain and gets a bit anxious.
I chose this hunt because it was close enough to ride to the territory. I thought that would give me the chance to evaluate his soundness and take the edge off him. Also, the first time I trailered him this year he got very anxious and upset (not like him), so I wanted to take the trailer out of the equation.
That ride turned out to be a bit more challenging than I’d expected. I mapped out a route that would keep us off the roads except for one small stretch. What I’d forgotten was how many cyclists are on the road on nice spring Saturday mornings.
Just my luck, as I hacked down the 1000 feet of road, a friend drove by in a car to tell me there was a pod of about 30 cyclists coming right behind her. She was kind enough to stay next to me in her car while I aimed for a plot of land that would get me off the road, but we weren’t fast enough. I don’t know what these cyclists thought is going to happen when the come darting by a horse at high speed, but now they know that the horse spins in the road and the rider screams at them. I managed not to use any obscenities, but I sure came close. After about a third of them had gone by (the care didn’t slow them down at all), the rest pulled up and let me retreat onto a grassy area. They are just lucky that Freedom doesn’t kick.
Freedom was a bit less than chill after the bicycle experience, so we had a few minor confrontations about crossing downed logs and walking around new gates, but we arrived at the hunt territory, four and a half miles later, still in one piece. He’d felt pretty good — no soundness issues at the trot or canter and he picked up both leads without complaining.
He felt good until about the seven mile mark, at which point I felt him get discombobulated — most likely because he was tired. So at that point, I hacked him home (what a good boy he was to leave the field without complaint). By the time we rolled into the barn he’d covered about nine and a half miles and was feeling pretty mellow.