Although a Dorset man for most of his life, David was born in Somerset on Friday 13 March 1933 and always regarded 13 as his lucky number, stepdaughter Melanie Cable-Alexander told H&H.
Writing was David’s “third career”, after 20 years of soldiering and then charity work.
David retired as one of H&H’s most prolific hunting reporters a year ago with a glorious account of a “final day” with each of his four local packs – the South Dorset, the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale, the Portman and the Cattistock (6 January 2011).
He claimed to have chalked up “over 120 outings, with 67 different packs, on 64 different horses” – ranging from a 14hh pony to an Aintree veteran.
David’s army career began in the Royal Armoured Corps. He went on to serve in Northern Ireland, to teach at Sandhurst and command his regiment, the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own). In 1987, he left as a brigadier.
He ran a charity for addiction sufferers until 1992, when he began writing in earnest.
His brilliant, humorous, self-deprecating style, coupled with immense countryside, hunting and equestrian knowledge, soon captivated readers of Country Life, Horse & Hound and The Field.
Few writers could match his ability to craft a cliffhanger from a frozen day’s foot hunting or produce Pulitzer-standard copy on the topic of coppicing.
David also wrote six books, the last of which, Hoof-beats Through My Heart, published last month, celebrated the horses he had owned, ridden and loved.
David leaves his second wife Diana, two sons and two stepdaughters. His funeral takes place on 22 February at Sherborne Abbey.
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (9 February 2012)