One-eyed racehorse excelling in falconry career

  • A one-eyed former racehorse is excelling in his new falconry career.

    Caymans raced successfully on the Flat in Australia, Dubai and the UK under Godolphin, notching up more than £200,000 in earnings.

    He lost his eye through infection in the latter part of his racing career, but has adapted well.

    Following his four-year career on the track, the bay gelding was retired from racing in 2011 and joined Godolphin’s retraining and rehoming scheme.

    He was rehomed by Martin Whitley of Dartmoor Hawking and Recycled Thoroughbreds this summer and has taken to falconry “fantastically”.

    “He has taken to it really well and is very much at home,” Martin told H&H, adding the gelding had only been with them for eight weeks when the video was made.

    “He really hasn’t put a foot wrong and you wouldn’t know he’s missing that eye.”

    Martin uses solely former racehorses and also gives displays across the country.

    He added he messaged Godolphin’s rehoming scheme and was delighted when they invited him to come and see the horses.

    As well as Caymans, Martin found another suitable former racer through the rehoming programme, a 10-year-old gelding called Shubaat who won over hurdles and on the Flat.

    Martin explained how he introduces horses to falconry.

    “You have the ultimate prey and the ultimate predator working together,” he said.

    “Falconry is a really active sport — you need a horse who is clever on his feet and you are trying to keep contact with a bird that is flying at maybe 60-70mph.”

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    He added he starts off on the ground to introduce the horse to the lure, the flapping and the noise of the bells, and introduces a couple of calm hawks to gauge each horse’s reaction.

    This progresses to being mounted while swinging the lure, then to holding a falcon wearing a hood while riding and builds up to flying birds on the estate.

    “Caymans loves his work,” added Martin. “How he appears in the video is exactly how he is — he is a lovely person to have around, a complete gentleman.”

    Martin was full of praise for Sheikh Mohammed’s rehoming initiative and how well they match horses with prospective rehomers.

    “I think it’s absolutely fantastic,” he said.

    Godolphin is taking its rehoming seriously and really takes an interest [in what the horses are doing now] and we were so pleased about that. It is so nice to see a proper rehoming policy.”

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