autumn1MHarris PhotographyI came back from my summer of working abroad, and got to go to Opening Cubbing. I was so beyond happy to be back in the hunt field and to be back with hounds. A couple weeks passed, and I couldn’t make it out on the weekends because of various equestrian team obligations at school. I tried to shrug it off. And then something terrible happened. One word: Midterms.

No matter how many times I go through midterm week (actually weeks—they drag it out just to make your life more miserable), it never fails to floor me. I swear, regardless of how much I prepare for them, they just hit me harder and harder each semester.

So three weeks of absolute chaos and panic ensued, and all I could do was watch as class after class drove my life into complete turmoil. For three weeks, I studied, met with professors, and wrote essays until I surely thought I had run out of words. I made presentations, presented presentations (oftentimes with a lot of improvisation due to lack of time to practice), and read books until I couldn’t keep track of what information had come from which book. I once stayed up until 6:45 a.m., only to wake up at 7:30 a.m. for an 8 a.m. class.

I even wrote a sonnet in the traditional format about how much I hate writing sonnets (iambic pentameter, proper rhyme scheme and all, followed by six pages of analysis on my own sonnet. Yes, I really did turn this in for an actual grade.). Oh, and then there’s team practice, meetings, competitions, and workouts. And work. And silly little things like eating, sleeping, bathing, and laundry. Oh and make sure you have a social life somewhere in there too so you don’t turn into a hermit. Anything else? Should I try to find the cure to cancer while I’m at it?

When the middle of the third week hit, I was at wit’s end. I had reached a point of exhaustion and desperation that I no longer had the urge to fight; instead I just felt completely and utterly defeated. It seemed like my “hell week” just wasn’t ever going to end, and would instead turn into a “hellmester”. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but, I can assure you, I have a killer work ethic that trumps most others’ by a long shot. A heavy workload doesn’t overwhelm me; rather, having more work usually energizes me. So for me to feel this crushed by a workload was pretty discouraging. But then, while I was trying to find inspiration to keep studying for my history exam, it hit me.

Opening hunt was only three days away!

Now, I’d be lying if I said I then proceeded to pour over my history book for hours and absorb all the information perfectly and turn into a human encyclopedia. However, just the prospect of getting back to the hunt field for the first time in 8 weeks did give me a tiny little spark of hope that I could make it out alive. So two days, a 2 hour drive home, a lot of tack cleaning, a loaded trailer, two baths, one clipping, and two braidings later, everything was finally ready for opening hunt. After polishing my boots and doing a couple loads of laundry, I crashed in bed at 11:30 p.m. only to leap out of bed 5 hours later.

It was so good to be back; I still can’t get over to how nice it felt to finally be back in the hunt field. The best part of the day happened a little before 11:00. We were in the woods, and hounds had been picking along a line, but had yet to really hit anything real strong. We twisted through the rows of pines, hounds still speaking here and there as horses trotted across a thick bed of pine needles. We broke out of the woods, and started to canter up a hill along the tree line. Just as we slowed to a trot and began to round the corner at the top of the incline, I heard a roar of noise coming from farther around the corner. We quickly pulled up; hounds were screaming in the woods to our left, and Shakerag Hounds’ huntsman, John Eaton, could be heard cheering the hounds on and yelling from around the bend, “Ha ha ha! Tally ho!” We ran the red fox John viewed for a bit in less-than-ideal conditions, what with a high of 78 and no recent rains, before hounds checked and finished with a short and sweet run on a coyote. At one point, somebody asked if anyone wanted to head in early, and I had to stop myself from laughing as every single member of the field simultaneously said, “Let’s go! Hounds are running!”

As I sit here writing this, the only reason why I’ve finally stopped grinning is because the exhaustion seems to have finally hit me. Well, that, and my planner is sitting open next to me with a list of homework assignments, projects, and papers that I need to get started on. A good friend of mine, Madison Harris, helped photograph the day’s events, and she said each time I passed her, I was grinning ear-to-ear and giggling. I honestly don’t remember much about that happening, but I’m sure it made for some rather entertaining photos.

I don’t know how I’m going to finish all this homework in a reasonable amount of time. I don’t know how to describe the exact structure of proteins. I don’t know all of the differences between a Shakespearean and Petrarchan sonnet. And I definitely can’t give you an accurate description of a chemical synapse. But I know it’s all going to be all right, because this year is going to be an awesome season.

And I also know that if I don’t get out there more than once every 8 weeks, I might actually lose my mind!

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