Colt Hunting & Pony Catching

Catching up feral ponies isn’t easy- it takes nerve and skill. Some commoners become expert at it, and would catch ponies for other people. There were two main ways to do it. One was on horse-back, chasing the pony until you were close enough to catch it by the tail or put a rope round its neck. The other was to trap the pony with a hidden noose.

Owen Dibden remembers pony catching with the Stride brothers. They’d watch and learn where the pony would go, and pick a suitable spot, perhaps a narrow path between some gorse bushes, where they would carefully place a noose, or ‘ring rope’, in the path so it was hard to spot. Two of the team would slowly stalk the pony to get it to walk towards the path. When it got close, the third member of the team, who’d be hiding in the gorse, would spring out and startle the pony so it bolted down the path and put its head through the ring rope. The ring rope would be  secured to a the trees and bushes in such a way that it had plenty of ‘give’ and would bring the pony to a stop gradually, and not with a jerk that would cause injury.

The most exciting sport there was

Bob Andrews was a very well-known commoner. He won the point-to-point many times, and was an expert colt hunter.

According to Bob, colt-hunting was the most exciting sport. ‘Once you’d been colt hunting,’ he recalls , ‘you’d never bother with fox hunting again.’