Another hunt season draws to a close. Actually, my last hunt of the season was last Sunday, although I didn’t realize it at the time. With hunts scheduled for Wednesday and Friday, which I had every intention of enjoying, I almost skipped Sunday due to the unseasonable 78-degree heat. But the best-laid plans often go awry, and with a combination of weather and work complications, Wednesday and Friday didn’t happen. So I’m glad I caved in to some gentle arm-twisting and went out for an enjoyable but easy ride for my final hunt of the season last Sunday. With a shaggy horse and hot weather, an afternoon of hard running was out of the question. But it was a great day to hilltop with friends, and look forward to the cooler, possibly damper, weather promised for the next two hunts.
Tuesday afternoon, I got invited to a meeting Wednesday that I didn’t think I should skip. With the weather forecast at that point looking very dismal, I sighed and said “Oh well .. at least the weather looks better for Friday”. Wednesday afternoon, as I walked out of a 6-hour meeting that had been even more disastrous than I anticipated, and realized that the rain had quit well before the scheduled 1 PM hunt, I was royally pissed. I later learned I was pissed for no reason; the hunt had actually been cancelled due to lightning. Due to the late notice, if I had skipped the worthless meeting, I would have ended up hauling Arthur around in the trailer for a couple of hours for nothing (although it wouldn’t be the first time that had happened).
Well, at least there’s Friday. And the closer Friday got, the less promising the weather forecast got. I woke up that morning to a light rain. A quick look at weather.com gave a faint hope that it might clear before the 11 AM start time. I decided to start preparing to hunt, and wimp out if it was still raining when it was time to load up and haul out at 10:00. But it was a damn cold rain, and around 8:00 I decided it was not going to quit, and I’m not hard-core enough to ride in that kind of chilling soaking rain. As I drove to work and noticed snow mixing with the rain hitting my windshield, I was confident I’d made the right decision. Pure snow actually wouldn’t have been bad; I’ve hunted in falling snow before, and it’s very pleasant (as long as it’s not being driven by a chilling wind). But rain that’s just on the verge of freezing is just plain nasty. As Lexington was still getting a cold drizzle at noon, I kept telling myself that for once, I was glad I was working instead of playing. And I kept telling myself that.
Some people who were more foolish and/or less wimpy than I was claimed they actually had a very nice time, although the ground started to get slick towards the end. But maybe they were just saying that; nobody would actually confess to having a miserable time (well .. okay .. I might, if I had been out, but I wasn’t).
But right or wrong, I skipped the Friday hunt, and now it’s all over; nothing left to do except reflect on the season. Overall, I’d rate it a good season. According to my calendar, I managed to get out almost 30 times, which is not too shabby. Dec, Jan, and Feb were a little dismal, a lot of missed days due to weather or other complications, but the other months made up for it.
Arthur and I clicked fairly well all season. We had a few refusals, but I think I can count them on one hand, and we always got over on the second try. I had a few spills, but only a few. Ironically, none of them were the result of any kind of spectacular mishap at a jump. Every time I hit the ground, it was the result of Arthur taking sudden unexpected evasive action to avoid some horrible horse-killing hazard, like a rock, or a piece of cardboard, or a patch of bare dirt. A couple of them happened at just a walk; walking along chatting with somebody and boom, I’m talking to their horse’s hooves instead.
The only major downers to the season were a couple of losses of companionship. As I mentioned earlier, my brother and most loyal hunting buddy missed the last 2 months due to the death of his mare. But he has a new horse to get started over the summer, and I’m confident that he’ll be back in the fall.
And, as I forgot to mention earlier, one of the most hardcore members of the Bitch Pack missed even more of the season due to a freak injury that resulted from not being selective enough about who gave her a leg up. But she’s already made her triumphant return to the hunt field last Sunday; in fact, it was her promise of 2 flasks of Rock’n’Rye that had been aging since her injury in December that helped convince me to brave the heat and hunt (or hilltop) that day. And, since she became a regular reader of this site during her convalescence (am I less boring than daytime TV?), I guess I need to suck up to keep the flasks flowing (Hi Julie!). Also, with a local reader to keep me honest, I suppose I might have to be more careful with the literary license … no more stories about the orgies in the hunt field, or all the women swooning as Arthur and I sail over 5-foot fences. Hmm … maybe it’s really time for the season to end.