I started using horses for falconry by accident really, I’d just started Dartmoor Hawking, (this was 2001)and was keeping my Hawks and living in a mobile home on a farm near Bovey Tracey, but I kept my horse and was exercising the hawks at Holwell, what was then the family farm near Widecombe in the moor on Dartmoor.
I’d just got back from Exercising Toffee,my then ex-racehorse when Guenevere ,a young peregrine got her hood off and was fidgeting around in the back of the van.
Without really thinking I asked Gilly Everett,who was helping me out at te time to pass her up while I sorted her out.Toffee didn’t bat an eyelid,and a bulb went ping in my head.
I contacted Nick Fox, who was master of the Northumberland crow Falcons,who was incredibly helpful, and after conversations with him I formed the Dartmoor Falcons, one of only two mounted falconry groups in the country
We had a great couple of years, but Due to various reasons I drifted out of riding,so jumping forward to 2011,circumstances had changed,and I met Sir Lancelot (and Philippa ),
he got me back into riding and I decided to look for something for myself,Philippa suggested looking for a horse on loan,and the lovely Kim Hayward contacted me to offer me Dotty, the spotty pony ,on loan.,
Dotty put up with everything we could throw at her and was up yo my (rather large) weight at the time, and really revived my interest in falconry from horses.
I had a huge amount of fun with Dotty (and still do) but she did lack a certain finesse and as my weight was dropping off we started looking for a second horse for me, and with perfect timing, someone asked us to go and look for an ex racehorse for them.
We saw him,I rode him, liked him,and told them he would be perfect,only to find,without telling me ,that they had already found and brought a horse.
Some things were meant to be so I told Gordon Chambers ,who had him in training, that I would have him.
Enter Skippy (William Percival)
He was bold, confident, a lovely ride,and he just loved falconry.
At this stage we thought it would be fun to bring falconry from horses into Dartmoor Hawking,and with the combination of Skippy and the spotty pony we had 2 great horses to do this from,and so our Falconry from horses days started.
Skippy was doing a huge amount in my personal world as well as with Dartmoor Hawking so we decided he needed a backup, I by now was totally sold on the ex-racehorse as the perfect falconry pony so speaking to Gordon Chambers again along came Ozzy (major buck) a lovely big stamp of thoroughbred
He has become a fantastic personal falconry horse but proved to be a bit timid for client work as a nervous rider could give him the wrong signals.
Skippy, unfortunately, cracked his pelvis and had to be put to sleep, a devastating blow to us, so we introduced Ted Ted, a little bog pony, he’s laid back ,unflappable and was the perfect pony for working with clients as they got the hang of working horse and hawk
This still left a hole in my personal team so after a search and passing over several unsuitable horses we went back to Kim who had offered me her racehorse Tommy (myladtommy) who I had originally passed over as too big .
And what a gent he turned out to be,we’ve chucked everything at him and hes not been fazed he’s done long hard days Hawking on Dartmoor but the next day is quite happy to sit a nervous rider on to fly an eagle
And this is how it led on to where we are to day with a team of five recycled racehorses at various levels of training