She said we were huntin rabbits.
I heard the bucket gal say it, with my own horse-ears, to some County Island lady that was new to ridin out with us at the hunt club – which, if y’all have been payin any type of attention to my horse-story tellin at all, ya already know is when we help round up bad beagle dogs in the desert by yellin such nonsense words after ’em as “Hark!” and “Tally ho!”
It seemed downright suspect to me, that anybody was huntin rabbits, but I ain’t a horse to argue, in general. So, I blinked and gave the new County Island lady’s good horse a sideways look, and then shook my head at him like maybe the gnats was botherin my ears, but they wasn’t. Nonsense rabbit talk was botherin me.
It’d been a long time, like maybe at least a couple cold times and a couple hot times, or maybe more, since I’d been rode out with the hunt club. But I was purty sure I knew the drill. It didn’t make sense that they’d changed it up since my last participation. We never hunted rabbits nor anythin else, as far as a horse could tell.
There was always another big group of mostly tall, entirely fast horses that galloped ahead to try to stay with the escaped beagle-dogs, which is called “hounds” though those ain’t hound dogs, and I know hound dogs. And then there was us, the more relaxed herd, moseyin along behind and mostly walkin or joggin, sometimes maybe lopin but not for long, and spendin a lot of time standin up on hilltops, and observin the escaped beagle-dogs. Also standin up on hilltops bein lost and wonderin where everybody else went, more than once. I already told about that, here.
Right then, I spied a big ol’ jack of a rabbit. And so did my bucket gal.
“Oooh, tally ho!” she exclaimed.
And then the others saw it, too, hoppin happily away into the creosote brush with its big ol pointy black-tip ears, like it didn’t have a care in the whole wide rabbit world.
— all our riders said.
And we kept ridin on.
Nobody drew a bead on that rabbit, which is to say, for those of y’all that ain’t ranch-raised like I was and ain’t acquainted with the lingo, nobody shot the rabbit. Nobody even tried.
Frankly, I don’t think anybody’s even got a gun brought along with ’em in their saddle bags when we round up the beagle-dogs. I ain’t never heard ’em fire a shot, neither. Sometimes we do see real hunters walkin around on foot, huntin quail-birds. They got shotguns. Mostly, our folks seem to pack stuff nobody needs, such as a foul-smellin water that I call the “peppermint snots,” or “schnapps,” I reckon, and eye-telephones that can look at rabbits to shoot a picture of ’em or tell a person how far and long we’ve been out ridin, when a horse already know that.
If the runaway bad beagle-dogs was truthfully hounds, maybe some kinda mixed-up County Island hounds, and if they was truly sniffin and trackin after rabbits, how come they never caught a rabbit?
These were my own horse-thoughts as we wandered across the plain, plainly not goin nowhere in particular and even more plainly not huntin rabbits.
And, if the beagle-hounds was meant to be huntin dogs and they ain’t never caught one, how come they don’t get sold on down the dog-road and replaced with actual dogs that hunt?
Further, a pack of bayin, barkin beagles and a bunch of Tally-Ho’in, horn-blowin gallopin riders and horses ain’t no proper way to track a rabbit. They make too danged much noise.
My opinion of the entire deal got validated yet again when we finally rounded up the dogs and made our way back to the trailhead. Every time we go on a hunt club ride, the people make a big ol’ County Island production out of havin somethin to eat after, like they ain’t ate in days. Everybody brings a people-food to share, while us horses get to crunch on some carrots and apples and the rest of the breakfast hay we got yanked away from to go round up the dogs.
And there is never, ever any fresh cooked rabbit. Forthwith, they didn’t catch any, nor did they set out to, nor does anybody care that nobody even bagged a one, nor did anybody bother to ask the quail huntin men who possessed actual shotguns if maybe they could help catch a rabbit for ’em, no matter how many they caught sight of and thought was purty — nor does hunt clubbin have anythin to do at all with rabbits.
I’m startin to think the whole thing’s one big runaround. Oh, it’s fun and all, in a pointless way. But it ain’t got a thing to do with rabbits.