Oh, I am definitely being cautious. When he wanted to gallop, I made sure he slowed down to a nice lope instead...and even then it wasn't an extended one. We only ran the barrels once. It was only in the mid 80's outside but the humidity was really high so I didn't want to push him. We took a slow walk back to the hitching post to make sure he cooled down.
It was funny. Jerry is one of the more "pampered" horses at the farm. He is stalled with a fan during the day to keep him out of the hot sun and turned out at night...(During the winter, he is stalled at night and turned out during the warmer days) Most horses there are out 24/7.
When I went to the barn yesterday to get him, I couldn't find him. I thought maybe someone decided to turn him out for the day and I went and asked the farm owner where he was. She told me he was in his stall. Puzzled, I went back and took a closer look. I couldn't find him because he was laying down, fast asleep and my first reaction was "OMG...He's dead. I rode him Friday night and killed him"
I said, "Jerry?"
He opened one eye and gave me a look like, "You are disturbing my nap".
I opened the stall door and he got right up...no signs of stiffness and no struggle to get upright. He was very graceful. He gave me his head to put the halter on and I led him outside to graze on the grass for a while before I tacked him up.
I had seen him playing around with two younger horses about 4 months ago, out in the field. He was bucking, running, racing. I thought the farm owner had a new horse because I had no idea a 30 year old could still move so fast and be so playful. I was shocked when someone confirmed, "No, that's Jerry".
I am grateful that I have another horse to ride while my mare recovers...I had anticipated (with a 30 year old horse) a slow, beaten down horse that wouldn't move..and what I actually have is a horse that I may need to slow down a bit. The farm owner told me when I finished our ride yesterday that Jerry looked more relaxed and happy than he had in a while. So it was good for both of us. He was her very first Western Pleasure horse years and years ago and is very dear to her heart so I know she wouldn't allow me to do anything she felt would hurt him. And I wouldn't be able to live with myself if he was hurt by something I did...so I plan on being very careful.
I am enjoying reading the posts about others that have older horses that still enjoy rides.