I realize there has been a shortage of horseplay topics here recently. That hasn’t been dure to a shortage of horseplay. Although January and February basically sucked, March was a pretty good month. But if I had written about each hunt, they all would have been about the same: “Crossbo was awesome. We had fun.” But now that the season has ended, I guess a summary is due.
First some basic numbers. Crossbo – 27. Arthur – 4. That’s the number of times each horse hunted. A total of 31 hunts is pretty good, especially considering that January and February basically sucked, as mentioned earlier … 2 hunts in January and one in February.
It looks like Arthur may be easing into retirement. That wasn’t exactly my intention at the beginning of the season, and, even at 22 years old, he still has some run and jump left in him, it just wasn’t feasible to keep him actively hunting after December. At his age, it wouldn’t have been wise to start working him hard in March after two months of doing nothing. So Crossbo got all the late-season fun. Maybe with a little work this summer, Arthur can get back to a fitness level somewhat higher than retiree. If not, he’s earned a leisurely retirement.
Another important number for this season: zero! If my memory is correct, that’s the number of unscheduled dismounts I had this season. If I’m wrong, I’m sure one of my fact checkers will correct me. But if I’m right, I think it may be the first season in 30 years of hunting that I never involuntarily left the saddle. Not bad, especially considering it was a fairly active season.
And the season ended on a pretty good note. The last hunt provided plenty of fun, dampened slightly by the absence of a few of the Bitch Pack’s luscious lushes. Even without them, there was plenty of need for libational logistics.
Rock’n’rye is not a potion that can be quickly mixed up the morning of a hunt. For maximum quality, it needs to age for a while. The horrible January/February weather meant that a batch I made in early January was finally consumed in early March, which made it damn near perfect.
As that batch was consumed, it was time for the next. A fifth of rye makes about 2 quarts of rock’n’rye, which will fill a 16-ounce saddle flask 4 times, assuming the flask is completely emptied each time, which is usually a pretty safe bet. So in early March, as the January batch was being consumed, it looked like one more batch might finish the season.
Then we had some bad weather in late March, just as the previous batch was finished. That left me with 2 quarts on the last day.
Since it was a Saturday, and closing day, formal attire was definitely in order. And fortunately, the scarlet coat, while lacking a variety of handy outdoor pockets as other coats have, has a handy inside game pocket, which handles a 16-ounce flask very nicely. So the morning commenced with one 16-ounce flask of rocknrye on the saddle, another in the inside coat pocket, and a 6-ounce flask of Knob Creek in an outside coat pocket.
At first, considering the number of Bitch Packers either totally absent or riding in the second field, it looked like I might actually be overly lubricated. That was a foolish thought.
Following my standard rule, the flask was opened after the first jump. And before it was returned to its case, it was half empty. At that rate, it threatened to be a long day. Fortunately, shortly after that, we got on a fast and furious run with plenty of jumping opportunity, but little opportunity to appropriately toast each jump.
We actually finished the hunt and loaded the hounds with booze left in the first flask. But it was quickly finished, and swapped with the backup from the coat pocket as we headed back. Meeting up with the second field on the way back to the trailers guaranteed emptying the second flask, as well as the Bourbon which had barely been touched up to that point.
So I ended up wishing I had been smart enough to pack even more booze. Not only did we run out before reaching the trailers, I still have a quart left in the fridge that would have come in handy, and now there are no hunts left to use it. But Rolex is less than 4 weeks away, and it should be real good by then. It could be just what I need to fuel a stumble around the cross-country course.