Five years on

Five years ago I arrived at a service station just off the M25 at 3.30 am with a large wedge of cash, and waited for a man in a white van.
He turned up, showed me the contents of the wooden box, passed it over, took the cash and dissapppeared .
This was one of those great life changing moments , the contents of the box turned out to be the great love of my life,Artemis

image

Artemis was a joint venture with Bovey Castle Hotel Who had decided an eagle would be a great Addition to the hotel, the deal being they’d buy her, I’d train and fly her for them and have full use of her for Dartmoor Hawking.
Her origanal intention was only to be a display eagle,and for people to fly on our falconry experiences, she had other views on this, only a week after she was flying lose the dogs flushed a fox that had been poking around in a hedge, it ran straight under her flight path, she grabbed it and killed it.
A couple of weeks later I was flying her on the moor,starting her soaring, and the dogs flushed out a roe deer, she killed that.
She had unilaterally decided she wanted to be a hunting eagle.
As our relationship developed I introduced her to horses

image

As far as I’m aware she’s the only eagle in this country being flown from a horse, and what a combination it makes, a big powerful eagle being flown from a thoroughbred ex racehorse, the pinnacle of equine evolution ,over Dartmoor, one of the very few true wilderness’ left in England’
All the time whilst working she has retained her lovely nature and has been one of the nicest natured hawks I’ve ever worked with. She provides a wonderful experience for guests to fly

image

A huge thank you to Bovey Castle for the oppertunity to work with this wonderful creature

image

Why the ex racehorse

Why the ex racehorse  ?
I’m often asked why I only use Thoroughbreds, brought out of training for my falconry horses,I’m told they have a reputation for being flighty,scatty and very unpredictable.
Luckily no one has told mine this,my primary falconry horse is Skippy (racing name William Percival) who joined us from Gordon Chambers yard in Buckfastleigh

image

In the 18 months we’ve had him he has been used to teach young hawks to work with horses, been the main tutor on our falconry from horses days, Been masters horse for the Dartmor Falcons, carrying me on more than 50 days Hawking from horses carrying hawks from Harley at 350g to Artemis weighing in at 4.5kg,,kept me up with the flight and quite happily carried back whatever had been caught.

image

He’s been used in talks , demonstrations and main ring displays at various venues, and never put a foot wrong.
He’s fast, light mouthed, very quick on his feet,so can keep himself upright at a gallop whilst I’m concentrating on the flight, unfazed by anything (except killer squirrels!)
Number 2 pony, Ozzy (Major Buck) joined us this year and is proving to be equally as versatile as is Arnie(Ardnaglass) The wife’s latest acquisition to

image

Flying hawks on Dartmoor from a thoroughbred is without a doubt the best way to show how versatile a retired Racehorse can be
Our Video A day in the Life shows how The horse fit into our everyday work and the video Dartmor Falcons on inside out  Shows there use in the field