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As I write this, my 100-mile-long to-do list is glaring at me from the corner of my desk. I can feel its hot, hateful gaze boring into the depths of my soul. Okay, that was a little melodramatic, but spring semester is officially in full swing, and the next month is gearing up to be a terror. As a result, I find myself reliving the glory days of my winter break, back when I could joyfully wake up hours before dawn to make the long trek out to hunt country in subzero temperatures (maybe not subzero, but in Georgia, anything below 40 degrees is a polar vortex). But now I spend my days staying awake until those same early morning hours buried under a pile of notebooks, pens, and textbooks as I fight to keep my eyelids open and weakly cry for help. My friend and I also may have just spent a good fifteen minutes in an intense game of “Floor is Lava”, but hey, stressful times call for desperate measures.

A Foxhunter’s Guide to Getting Gates (Quickly)

I’ve mentioned before that my time as a road whip has acquired me the nickname of “Radio Killer”. However, my time in the hunt field on horseback has also given me the identity of the “Gate Keeper” because Tobey the Wonder Pony puts me closest to the ground, I’m perfectly willing to take on this role. Some parts of Shakerag Hounds’ clubhouse fixture have several gates, so it can be difficult for second and third field to keep up with hounds unless they have at least one designated opener and closer of gates.

A Promising Start to the Season

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.

A Day With a Legend

Autumn Sept 14Photo Courtesy Autumn ClarkeWhen I heard of the recent passing of Melvin Poe, my mind immediately flashed back to my senior year of high school when I got to meet the legendary man. Of course, I did not know Mr. Poe well at all. If you knew him well, I hope my 18 year-old self managed to put together a semi-respectable piece reflecting just how high and wide his story has spread.

And if you did not know him well, you can follow along with a teenaged fox hunting fanatic’s adventures in Virginia. I do not feel nearly qualified enough to write anything about Melvin Poe that could come close to encompassing his life, story, and general aura, but if the following depicts what it was like for a complete stranger to meet him just once, I can only imagine what he must’ve been for those who knew him personally. Heaven has gained a great one.

When early April of my senior year in high school rolled around, all of my classmates began talking about where they were going for our weeklong spring break. Some were headed to Hilton Head or Destin with the family; others couldn’t wait to escape their parents’ careful watch and head to Panama City Beach. A few planned on some simple R&R at home, while others were headed to various locations, ranging from Cancun to France. Me? My dad and I were headed to Warrenton, Virginia to meet up with some long-lost cousins.

New Opportunities

June 14Autumn Clarke photoI did everything in my power to find a job close to home this summer. After 12 weeks away from home and hounds last summer while working at a large sale barn in Virginia, I was thinking I would be best off staying home to try to make a little more money, and as an added bonus, I would get to spend a bit more time at the kennels like I’m used to doing during the summer. I asked everyone I could think of, horse-related and not horse-related. I sent my resume to multiple locations, made countless phone calls, attended a couple of, what I thought to be good, interviews, and sent an obscene number of emails that I can’t even begin to estimate. And I kid you not, I received either a rejection or no answer at all from every. Single. Person. However, life threw a curveball, as it tends to do, and I was ultimately offered an opportunity I simply could not turn down to work under a top rider and trainer in Virginia once again. So as I sit typing this, I’m spending my first night in my new home for this summer, and am preparing to hit the ground running in the morning.

Reflections From the Radio Killer

Autumn April 14Jean Carnet photoWith the season officially over, I’ve come to one realization: I’ve had a lot of nicknames over the years. A bit of a different start from my other entries here, I know, but bear with me. I promise I’m taking this somewhere.

It started with a group of friends I used to go camping with when I was about 7 or 8 years old. We all decided to give each other nicknames one day, and I was ceremoniously dubbed “Swinging Monkey”, because of my unexplainable inability to sit still for more than five minutes. 

In fifth grade, I was named “Odie” and “Ottoman Empire” since pronouncing the “n” at the end of my name makes it sound like the name of the famous Turkish domain. Then, riding at a large training stable brought on a whole slew of nicknames as a flock of small children quickly adopted me as their honorary big sister. Autumana Movie (I don’t understand that one at all), Tumana, Tumdala, Rum Tum, Rummy, Tum, and even the incredibly simple “Um”…you say it, I answer to them all.

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