Not Getting My Act Together

Photo by Dene Masengill-Jones. Please note lack of flash, logo saddle pad, and corn. Photo by Dene Masengill-Jones. Please note lack of flash, logo saddle pad, and corn.

I have this persistent fantasy in which I get my act together.

In which my office desk is not one great sliding pile of very important papers, in which my stack of books to read immediately numbers less than 100, in which the laundry is done, folded and put away all on the same day, the barn is pristine and I don’t ignore my home improvement projects in favor of my to-read pile.

My husband thinks many of these problems would solve themselves if only someone could block my access to But I digress.

Yesterday I coped with the weight of my responsibilities by taking the day off to go foxhunting. Even there it was obvious to the casual observer that I am not quite all together.

To start with: the time schedule. Hounds would be cast at 10 am. I would need to be mounted by 9:45. It should take me 15 minutes to unload my horse, put my boots and jacket on, and tack the horse. It should take one hour and ten minutes for me to drive to the venue.

I pulled out of the driveway at 8:23 am.

Astute mathematical minds will note that I was already three minutes behind. Horse people will note that I was in trouble: either I’d not given myself any extra time, or I’d already used it up before pulling out of the driveway.

With horses, you have to allow extra time. Things go wrong. The horse decides it would be very amusing to run from you in the pasture. The horse decides it would be very amusing to roll in mud. The horse steps on its own lead and breaks its halter, and you have to find another halter that fits the horse–it will of course be the oddest-sized horse in the barn–before you load. The horse decides it would be very amusing to refuse to get onto the trailer.

Not that any of those have ever happened to me.

Anyway, the biggest problem with yesterday morning was that I didn’t pack the trailer the night before. Every horse person knows to do this, but still I didn’t. I merrily threw a bunch of tack and my mare–both clean enough for a Thursday–onto the trailer and set out late because I’d wanted another cup of coffee.

I drove fast and got there mostly on time, unloaded the horse, tied her to the trailer, and put my boots and jacket on. (I was already wearing the rest of my gear, stock tie, pin, etc.) My hunting license was in my jacket pocket, as was my plastic dinosaur, talisman of our hunt, so I felt pretty good. I’d remembered my hair nets, too.

I began tacking up. Unfortunately, my daughter and I both have the same brand of girth for our jumping saddles. The difference is that hers is 3″ shorter. You can guess which one I had with me. I tugged and pulled and Sarah rolled her eyes and snorted.

In desperation I removed the riser pad, and then, in further desperation, took off my fluffy fitted foxhunting saddle pad and rooted in the trailer for something thinner. I ended up with a square white baby pad with logos embroidered on both sides.

This is not foxhunting appropriate. On the other hand, neither is riding without a girth.

Then it turned out the flash noseband had fallen off my bridle. Flash nosebands aren’t really hunt appropriate either, but I still wasn’t happy to have lost mine. Then I reached into the trailer tack room to grab my hunt whip, and it wasn’t hanging in its spot. I belatedly recalled that I’d moved it into the barn before our final horse trial.

In our hunt you are permitted to ride without a hunt whip, which has a crooked handle and a four-foot long leather lash, because those suckers are expensive, but you are not permitted to hunt without something with which to whack an animal that needs whackin.’

I rooted through the trailer tack room again and came up with one of my daughter’s eventing crops, fortunately her black one and not the one striped in her colors, lime green and yellow.

By now I was late to mount up, but you could see that coming. I joined the field and murmured apologies to the master for the advertising on my wholly incorrect saddle pad. She graciously forgave me. We cast hounds, and then spent the next three hours wandering around corn fields in a howling wind.

The wind dried up all the scent and we didn’t chase a thing; Sarah did well until we got back to the trailer, when she snorted, “That’s IT?” and proceeded to kick up a fuss.

I went home and did the barn chores thoroughly and well. Then I retired to the house, thumbed through the mail, and thought about the paperwork and housework and laundry. Then I poured myself a glass of wine, got a novel, and took a long hot bath.

Maybe today I’ll get my shit together. On the other hand, today was a pretty good day.

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