Yesterday’s forecast predicted a high temperature in the low 60s(F) today, around 20 degrees above normal and close to the record of 66. Fortunately, it didn’t get quite that warm. The mercury stopped somewhere in the 50s, still well above normal. That was a little warm for hunting, but not uncomfortable. There was still a lot of moisture in the ground, which made good scenting conditions for a while. Things started somewhat fast and furious, but then the wind picked up, making the hounds’ job more difficult, but keeping the horses cool (and lifting their spirits even more).
My brother and I anticipated a large turnout, considering the nice weather after the recent span of lousy weather. It actually turned out to be fairly small. The first field consisted of us and eight women; second (non-jumping field) had another 8-10 women. God, I love the demographics of this sport. Okay, to be honest, most of them are happily married. But it’s still tough to beat the image of galloping cross-country surrounded by beautiful women. As the second Lord of the Rings movie opens today, I remembered my brothers’ comment about the riding scenes in the first one: "It’s just like hunting; galloping out of control through the woods chasing beautiful princesses!" One of today’s field was a first-time hunter; after the first 30 minutes, the permanent grin on her face made it unnecessary to ask if she was having fun yet.
After the fast action in the first hour, things slowed down somewhat. That was actually a blessing, because we managed to avoid burning out our horses early and kept going all afternoon. As we were riding back in after 4 hours in the saddle, my brother and I agreed that as we get older, we’re more appreciative of long and slow vs. short and fast. At one point today, I felt compelled to repeat the parable of the two bulls to some who hadn’t heard it. Two bulls stand at the top of a hill, gazing down at a herd of heifers. Young bull says "Hey! Let’s run down there and nail a couple of those heifers!" Old bull shakes his head and says "I’ve got a better idea; let’s walk down and get ’em all". That really is an appropriate metaphor for hunting, and many of life’s other pursuits. Don’t burn up your horse/energy/whatever unnecessarily; save it for the good stuff. Besides, as I get older, I just love repeating that.