15 September 2014
Roger Searle and Forest Hunter
Forest Hunter – Gentleman
We bought Hunter in 2001, just after the Foot and Mouth restrictions had been lifted. He was 9 years old, had been backed the previous summer and was very well schooled but only hacked out up the lane and back.
He came home from Kinross with Eric Gillie, the transporter, and fitted in very well with our Highland pony herd; lived out, like them, un-rugged, and soon became boss, though he would allow our filly foals to eat out of his feed bowl and at his heap of hay. We think he thought he was their Dad! Hunter is a gentle man in every way. If he shies, he jumps within his skin but his feet stay still. Once he got three legs entangled in a seven-strand fence. A less sensible horse would have panicked and certainly broken a leg, but he just stood there while we ‘unwove’ his legs from the wire.
We took him gradually through the Grades, interspersed with other extraneous rides. Bronze Thistle Qualifiers at Drummuir and Smallburn in 2002. A 54 mile Camp Ride from Ballater to Tomintoul and back the same year. Bronze Thistle Final and the first Silver Thistle Qualifier at Cushnie and Darnaway, respectively, in 2003. Another Camp Ride that year of 54 miles from Mar Lodge to Blair Atholl and back. But, most exciting, Hunter’s first Silver Boot ride of 130 miles with the Bays and Greys Team. Since then he has done the Silver Boot across Scotland another five times, with the team winning the Trophy in 2004 and 2008.
In 2004 Hunter did another Camp Ride, 44 miles from Invercauld to Mar Lodge and back. The next year he gained his second Silver Thistle Qualifier at Smallburn. In 2006 when he was awarded his Silver Thistle at the Highland Fling we were on ‘cloud nine’, and began to dream we might have a ‘Golden Boy’. And we did, in 2010. Roger has already written about Hunter’s Gold Thistle campaign, and eventual success (see Newsletter Articles page) – thanks to a great deal of help from many people.
I have kept detailed records which show that Hunter and Roger have ridden some 6000 miles together – their joint age 95. Hunter’s friends – Jill’s Kizzy, Graham’s Tayman, Molly’s Finn, Lorna’s Marco, Barbara’s April, Mary’s Solo, Leon’s Moray, Simon’s Bobby, Yvonne’s Schadow, Tony’s Shantyie, and Donna’s Sameh, have accompanied him on the most important parts of this journey but he has also been ridden out alone from his field for many miles in all weathers on the hill tracks which surround us.
In June Hunter will go down to Hertfordshire, together with Macdonald of Birnam, the last of our homebred Highlands, who for the past 5 years has been the lead pony in a trekking centre at Inverdruie and who we are buying back. It will be very different for both of them being fussed over by our daughter and three teenage grand-daughters in a climate akin to Florida. They will be greatly loved, as they well deserve. We will see them regularly, and they will always belong to us.
Forest Hunter 1992-2014
Forest Hunter was been PTS on 7th February. Roger took Hunter up to GTF, which they achieved in 2010. Roger and Brenda then took Hunter down south to their daughter's family to enjoy a more leisurely life.