Double your pleasure

After a couple of weeks with nothing to say, maybe “double your pleasure” refers to the fact that I actually managed to write two posts in one day. Or, maybe it refers to the fact that today was doubly delightful as it was a wonderful hunting day following a night of delightful election news. But, since I try to segregate the topics here, and I’ve already fulfilled the daily political quota, we’ll skip that. But there were other factors that doubled today’s fun.

The first was having my regular hunting buddy, my big brother, riding with me. He’s been fairly regular this season, so that wasn’t really new, but it’s always nice. And it almost didn’t happen.

He pulled into my driveway a few hours before the hunt started to tell me he could go if his farrier showed up as promised to reset his mare’s shoes. Otherwise, he’d have to cancel because they were too loose. He promised to call me with a definite answer by the time I had to leave.

So I commenced the task of getting my horse and myself ready. The first part of that was somewhat easier because I made a monumental decision this season. I’ve never clipped my horses before, because I didn’t want to hassle with blankets. But this year, I decided it might be worth the hassle. I got tired of all the people who saw Crossbo in the summer and acted surprised at how good he looks, because he’s usually shaggy and sweaty when they see him hunting. I decided a horse that beautiful deserves to be beautiful year-round, so a couple of weeks ago, I clipped him.

Today, I pulled off his muddy blanket, and realized that the cool thing about blanketing is that all the mud that was on the blanket was not on him. Cleaning off his extremities was a piece of cake. For comparison, I looked at Arthur in his shaggy, muddy glory, and decided I was relieved I wasn’t hunting him today.

So after prepping Crossbo, it was time to clean up my own act. As I was getting dressed, and wondering how close my brother was going to get to the deadline before he called, my phone rang.

Of course, there’s no suspense. I already told you he hunted with me, so he must have gotten his shoes reset, right? Wrong. He was calling to tell me he had seen no sign of his farrier, and his horse’s feet were in no shape to ride.

Then he said “If you want to get Arthur exercised, I’ll be glad to hilltop him”. DUH! I should have thought of that myself. And I should have thought of it in time to get prepared. I said “Well, that would be a good idea, except he’s filthy muddy, and I need to be on the road a few minutes ago”. He said “Bring him over and we’ll clean him up”. So that’s what we did. Once again, I doubled my fun by getting both my horses worked.

Last year, I told him if he ever needed a horse, I’d lend him Crossbo, because Crossbo would be a better match for his size than Arthur. But today, vanity stopped me from letting him have my clean horse. There was no way that, with just a few minutes of brushing, we were going to make Arthur look anywhere near as clean as Crossbo, and I didn’t want to be the one on the shabby horse. So I decided Arthur was big enough for him.

After we knocked the worst of the mud off of Arthur, the next double pleasure occured. My brother gave me custody of his flask, as he has sworn off the demon alcohol.

I’ve gotten a lot of flak from the Pack about carrying a small pocket flask full of Bourbon, instead of a large saddle flask full of some more sissy concoction. Apparently size does matter; my claim that mine was “smaller but stiffer” didn’t seem to impress anyone. My flask is a very nice one, a present from my younger brother, and I like Bourbon, so it’s good enough for me. But the real reason I don’t carry a saddle flask is that my Crosby Centennial saddle doesn’t have D-rings to attach one.

So why the hell have I been riding in a flask-incompatible saddle? Maybe because I’m stupid. Dave gave me a hell of a deal on it. And, as usual, I was blinded by beauty to the point of possible stupidity. Actually, this may sound crazy, but what really appealed to me about it was those slots in the flaps for the stirrup leathers, instead of stitched-on keepers that always get torn off. Silly detail, but I’ve always been a sucker for that kind of elegant simplicity.

But that excuse didn’t go over well with the Pack. I was reminded that D-rings can be added to a saddle. One of them even threatened to snatch my saddle and take it to have D-rings installed.

But instead of getting the Crosby upgraded, a few weeks ago I looked at my father’s moldy old Smith-Worthington saddle and decided it was far too nice a saddle to let it decay in my tack room, especially since I’d had it restuffed a few years ago at no small expense, and then never used it. Unlike the Crosby, which was really more suited for show-jumping than cross-country riding, the S-W was a true foxhunting saddle, complete with D-rings on both sides.

So I pulled it off the rack, cleaned it up, and started riding in it. And one of the Pack shamelessly pointed out to my brother that I had empty D-rings on my saddle, and he had a flask at home he wasn’t using. So today he presented me with his flask, filled with port. I told people I traded him a horse for a flask, which seemed like a good deal, especially since the flask was full and the horse was dirty.

But I still like Bourbon, and my pocket flask is still a really nice flask, so there’s no way I’m going to quit carrying it. Besides, it’s nice to have single fault tolerance in the flask department. So, today I was double-flasked, once again doubling the pleasure. And, I managed to handle both flasks all day without losing my crop.

Last week, one of my loyal readers, after reading about the crop loss, showed me his own crop with a strap holding it on his wrist to prevent loss. I had actually tried to buy one like that, and Dave ridiculed me, saying those were for kids. I thought about it, and realized that most of the crops I’d seen in the hunt field weren’t strapped on, and hunt whips definitely don’t have safety straps, so maybe Dave was right. Or maybe he just wanted to sell me a crop I’d lose so he could sell me another one.

So I arrived at the hunt with my brother, my two horses, two flasks, and one crop. Bro had originally suggested hilltopping Arthur, and I had figured I’d probably stay in the back with him instead of riding up front. But, as we got started, he asked if I’d jumped Arthur recently.

I replied that I hadn’t jumped him any in the hunt field this season, but we’d done some schooling in September, and he jumped nicely. The reason I’d been hilltopping him was not concern for his jumping ability, but just worry about his overall fitness. A few jumps wouldn’t kill him, but I didn’t want to run out of horse in the middle of a screaming run in the middle of nowhere, and have to pull out and try to make my way back home with a horse that didn’t want to leave the herd. But, with two of us, that wouldn’t be an issue. We could ride up front, and if Arthur got tired, we could drop back or quit, as appropriate. So both my horses got plenty of jumping today.

Ironically, the first jump of the day was the one where Arthur ditched me a few years ago. By the time we got there, they were pretty far ahead of me, so I didn’t see how Arthur cleared the ditch and jump, but he must have done well, as they showed no sign of trouble when I caught up with them a little later, and every jump I saw after that looked great.

It was definitely a good day .. definitely twice as much fun (at least!!) as being at work.

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