The hunting career of a game little mare has reached a major milestone — 500 days out with hounds over a 15 year period.
Roffes Sula, 22, owned by Claire Eke of Bradworthy, Devon, achieved this goal with the Tetcott hunt.
It was a proud occasion for Claire and Sula when, alongside master and huntsman Andrew Bozdan, they proudly led the hounds into the village of Pyworthy for a lawn meet at the Molesworth Arms.
Claire said: “She has been absolutely fantastic and I have so many vivid memories of us hunting together. Our partnership began in Surrey in 1986 when I bought Sula as a yearling.
“Following a successful few years show jumping, and winning local working hunter and riding horse classes, I started hunting with her in 1992.”
Before the hounds and riders set off from the Molesworth Arms, hunt secretary Rita Morris marked the occasion by presenting Sula with a bag of carrots.
Sula, a 15.2hh partbred Arab, had her first day out, aged seven, with the Old Surrey and Burstow Hunt, and took to it with enthusiasm, said Claire.
She will go anywhere over anything — even wire — and has only fallen twice when out, she added.
Claire has hunted Sula with the Tetcott since 1997 when she and her family moved to Devon.
“In December that year Sula suffered a very nasty injury after jumping into the River Tamar and impaling herself on a submerged metal spike,” added Claire.
“But thanks to the skill and brilliance of Mark Shepherd, of Penbode Veterinary Group, Sula was back hunting again in February.”
During one hunt, the mount of Robin Nicholls, the then master and huntsman, lost a shoe and he carried on with Sula.
“He said ‘she’s born to it’ when returning Sula after dark, all washed down and very happy,” said Claire.
Claire remembers another dramatic incident out hunting when she spotted a sheep drowning in the Tamar in a January flood.
“Only Sula and I were mad enough to go in for it ,” she said.
After “doing a Mark Phillips” and emptying her riding boots, Claire remounted, soaking wet, to continue hunting for the rest of the day.
Claire has kept detailed records of every hunt they have attended in her hunting journal.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (10 January, ’07)