I started using horses for Falconry in 2001, by mistake really, I had just set up Dartmoor Hawking, doing Falconry commercially, as a change of life after the death of my first wife, and had got back to my Parents Farm where I kept my horse at the time.
I was riding a thoroughbred mare Toffee (Takethetopoff) And found a girl who is working for me at the time was having problems with a young peregrine falcon, without really thinking I said pass it up here and there I was on a horse with a falcon, and a little thing went ping.
I contacted Dr Nick Fox (now OBE for services to falconry) who ran the Northumberland crow Falcons, the only mounted falconer in the country at the time, who gave me a lot of very good advice.
I was already flying Falcons at crows, the fastest and most exciting form of falconry, on foot this could involve a lot of walking following disappearing flights and he told me how much a horse would enhance this, and yes it did, suddenly I could get into position to engender the best flights rather than just grabbing an opportunity, we could follow the flight we’ll , these could be covering Dartmoor at 60 mph.
This brings me on to the thoroughbred, when I first started telling people about what I was doing a rather large woman who rode a rather large cob told me that ex racehorses would not be suitable for falconry, I needed something like she rode.
So wrong, you need a fast horse, quick on its feet, Dartmoor has some very unforgiving riding for a clumsy horse, bogs , rock clitter, very uneven terrain. While following a flight you want to be looking up, not placing your horses feet. Brains and a steady temperament are essential, the whole package is hard to get in a horse, and this is where the ex racers come in so well.