British Columbia

Yes, you're smelling a new fitness trend: Vernon, B.C., triathlete enlists pet goats as training partners

Shanda Hill takes her pet goats for hikes and on her stand up paddle board. The animals boost her motivation to train when her races were cancelled amid the pandemic.

Goats are good swimmers and runners, says North Okanagan Athlete of the Year Shanda Hill

Vernon, B.C., ultra-triathlete Shanda Hill with Wicket, one of her pet goats and training partners, taking a break on a stand up paddle board. (JDTV Media)

Dogs have long been the workout partners of choice for runners and bikers, but Vernon, B.C., ultra-triathlete Shanda Hill has turned to four-legged caprine friends to train with her.

The Silver Star Mountain Resort resident is joined by four male Nigerian dwarf goats — Yoda, Wicket, Sparky and Spirit — in her running, hiking and rafting exercises.

"He doesn't bark at anything. He doesn't chase people," Hill, who is also a dog owner, says of her paddle boarding companion on Kalamalka Lake. "He's just a really chill personality, and he's quite quirky."

Hill, 38, spends most of her time on weight training, but she also does a variety of outdoor exercises to maintain her strength and balance. 

Vernon, B.C., triathlete Shanda Hill rafts with her pet goat Wicket on Kalamalka Lake. She puts a life jacket on her caprine buddy to avoid questions from people who don't know goats can swim. (4th Dimension Paddles)

The athlete adopted her first two goats — Yoda and his brother — from a Kijiji vendor three years ago. She began working out with goats after a tragic incident: a cougar devoured Yoda's brother.

"He [Yoda] came everywhere with me," Hill told Chris Walker, host of CBC's Daybreak South, about her pet's insecurity. "I was going for a paddle board, and he wanted to be with me, and he didn't want to leave."

 

Hill takes her caprine buddy on board to practise balancing on the water. The triathlete said goats are good swimmers, but she often puts a life jacket on her pet.

"It helps limit the amount of questions that I get," she said. "A lot of people don't know that goats can swim."

Goats can really sprint, Hill added. She often hikes 12 kilometres with her four goats cantering along. She said her pets boost her motivation for training, especially this year when all of her races were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Hill's goats are more than just fitness partners. They can appreciate the music she plays on a piano outside of her house.

Spirit, Sparky, Wicket and Yoda accompany Hill when she plays the piano outside of her house. (Jacs Spence)

Just two months ago, Hill was crowned North Okanagan Athlete of the Year. She was the first Canadian to complete a double-deca triathlon — a gruelling race equivalent to 20 Ironman triathlon races — in Mexico last October. 

With files from Daybreak South, Pamela McCall and Brady Strachan

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