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Horse riding falconer hunts ducks and rabbits

Falconer with horse birds wine assistants
Jonathan Shaw hunts with hawks and falcons from horseback at his 467 acre farm in Queenstown on the eastern shore of Maryland. At the World Horse Expo 2019 at the Farm Complex in Harrisburg, he had two prey birds, his horse and two assistants. His avian hunter is Geronimo, a gyrfalcon, which will hunt ducks and pigeons. His Harris Hawk goes for rabbits, squirrels and, he adds tongue in cheek, “small children.” Historically, Shaw says, falconers would ride horses because they could catch up with the falcon which otherwise would eat the falconer's dinner! The tradition didn't die out until the invention of the gun, the first of which was named after a sparrow hawk, a "musket." Shaw goes on to tell about all the now common expressions that come from falconry like "hoodwink", "under my thumb" and "wrapped around her little finger." Shaw's ideal horse is a pasofino because of its even gait. It won't jostle the falcon up and down when it's sitting on the falconer's glove before release. Prior, he had hunted with American Paint horses but when he was trotting around the farm his "hawk would think I was shaking a cocktail." Watch video interview of falconer describing how he hunts ducks and rabbits with his hawks and falcons while riding horseback."