The happiest of hours

It started as a ride on my horse Huck. Just a brisk buzz past the neighbors’ farms and down along the river — “the loop” as we like to call it. I didn’t have a lot of time yesterday afternoon — about an hr and a half to ride, leap in the shower and fetch the kids before the dinner/bath/bed routine. But on a warm, sunny spring day, sandwiched between rain past and rain predicted, it seemed criminal not to ride.

We trotted along Chet’s hayfield and picked up the tree line while Maisie darted back and forth in front of Huck, barking incessantly. I hollered at her repeatedly but this only egged her on. She spun in manic circles and barked some more.

This little freak show featuring my fat, spotted guinea-pig looking horse, and deranged, rabid acting dog, made it as far as Liz’s barn. That’s about 1/4 mile as the crow flies, or 2 minutes as the horse trots. Something like that.

Either way, that’s as far as we got.

No injury befell anybody, Huck didn’t lose a shoe, Maisie didn’t get kicked. I however, suffered a setback: I succumbed to the bottle.

It was a little one. You know those bottles of wine you get on airplanes? About that size.

Liz was not home, or in-barn — she was still at work — but Jane was there grooming her horse, and shortly after I rode up, Sarah, who lives next door, happened by in her pickup.

Apparently three’s the magic number because the next thing I know, bottles of wine are being passed around (hmm screw cap, how convenient). Jane unfolds a little chair, Sarah leans against her truck, I slump in the saddle on Huck’s back. It’s officially happy hour in the gravel drive in front of Liz’s barn. Only thing missing is Liz. And some munchies.

I don’t know how long we parked there but Sarah opened a bulk bag of horse treats for Huck, and Maisie and her Jack Russell darted around in the woods, while we squinted in the sun and chatted.

At some point I glanced at my watch. And it dawned on me that if I chugged my bottle, kicked Huck into a gallop and raced to my car, I might get the kids in time. I shifted the reins and wine bottle to one hand and borrowed Jane’s cell phone to dial Martin.

Me: “Hey, something’s come up. Can you get the kids at daycare?”
Martin: “Who’s number is this? Where are you calling me from?”
Me: “Jane’s phone…. I’m in the saddle…well, I’m riding….I’m on Huck, can you get the kids or what?”

Eventually, the three of us disbanded and I took my horse, my dog, and my buzz home. When Martin got home, I was still untacking Huck in the barn.

Martin: “Hey, how was your ride?”
Me: “It was great. Gotta do that more often.”

Technically, it’s riding if I’m in the saddle, right? That’s Jane, happy hr accomplice, in the background. (photo, courtesy of Sarah’s phone)

Today’s tip: the space between the horse’s withers and the saddle makes a most excellent receptacle for empties.