Once a year, the entire membership of Rocky Fork Headley Hunt convenes to tell tall tales about the ignominious unplanned dismounts of the preceding season. Last year among all the other sad stories, Bill Bering had to confess to his own disgrace. The saga which follows was Bill’s rendition of the time when Missy got the better of him, as told at the annual Thrills and Spills convocation.
Today Missy bucked me off during a hunt. My first reaction was to deny that it happened. After all, who would they believe: me--or Bob, Liz, and Linda, the alleged witnesses? I quickly abandoned the idea though thinking that perhaps I might crack under cross examination.
The day was not unlike many others in Ohio...dark, dank, gray, dreary, cold, wet, foreboding, and depressing. One could sense impending doom walking down to the schooling ring.
As we warmed up I noticed that I was hungry, thirsty, tired and faint. I was also nauseated and had a headache, a toothache, and something in my eye. I felt like the whole world was against me. Other than that I felt pretty good though.
Although I am normally fieldmaster for second flight, I had decided that since there were not many in the field that day I would ride in the hilltopper group with Linda. That way I felt I could use the time to draft in my mind the 82nd chapter of my soon to be released book entitled “If Only Everyone Could Be Like Me”.
Once we got started I noticed that the footing was muddy, boggy, slippery, treacherous, and dangerous. I calculated the odds of staying upright as not being very good.
We had been out for what seemed 32 hours when I heard on the radio that the hounds were racing toward Clark State Road at the northern edge of our fixture. Never wanting to miss the action the four of us rocketed out of the bottoms up the big hill toward the Blue Bird Field. At full gallop Missy seemed excited, exhilarated, wild, and as if someone had put a firecracker up her ass.
At the top of the hill Missy made a sharp right turn. I became dismayed when I felt this surging power underneath me rise from the ground. Suddenly, I was airborne yet because of my incredible upper body strength I was able to hang on to Missy's neck for around three strides. After that, as I was falling to the ground I felt fearful, apprehensive, anxious, and sad.
I landed on my shoulder, elbow, and hip. After bouncing six times, I became irritated, agitated, lonely, and forlorn.
Suddenly, as I saw Missy running off, I sensed that I did not love her quite as much as I thought I had. I wondered if our relationship could ever be saved.
Oddly, after I arrived home and had four glasses of Makers Mark, I began to feel much happier, optimistic, resilient, and positive about my future.
Before Linda tucked me into bed I went to check on Missy in the barn. I told her that even though she was unappreciative, a bully, had a bad attitude, and didn't listen to me today, I still loved her. After all, we all have our shortcomings don't we? I supposed that after six years together, I have learned to overlook her temporary lapses into mania.
As I was lying in bed with the lights out listening to the rain outside I felt lucky, relieved, invigorated, and quite ready to fall asleep. Of course, the ibuprofen and the whiskey didn’t hurt either…
Bill Bering is president of the board of trustees of Rocky Fork Headley Hunt in Gahanna, Ohio. Missy is his very dainty draft cross. Linda is Bill’s wife, who hunts a lot more safely on her paint mare Foxie in the hilltopper field.