Stalking with The Frilly Ghillie

 

My passions are deer conservation and Highland ponies, and using them for work as nature intended.

During the months of August through to 20th October I can sometimes be found up the hills with my ponies.

We work on Scottish Estates taking the culled deer off the hill and back to the larder.

There are various deer management qualifications needed for this line of work.  They can be gained though The  Scottish Gamekeepers Association and British Association for Shooting and Conservation.

It is often long and cold work, and sometimes involves the dreaded Scottish midges - for which there is no certain deterrent as yet.  Despite this, I find the work very rewarding indeed.

I can be alone for hours, but am never lonely.  There is always something out there to be spied on through the telescope and the ponies to talk to.

Up in the hills with the ponies spying for a stag

 

There are an increasing number of guests to estates asking for ponies to join them on their days stalking.  They like to see these calm and gentle ponies carrying the stags home.  In the last few years there have been quite a few estates bringing back ponies to the hills which is wonderful to hear.

 

Three ponies laden with stags in one day!

 

In 2007, in fear of the art of using a pony for deer extraction dying out, I made a DVD on the subject so the information would be there for generations to come.  I named it 'A Highland in Harness - Keeping tradition alive'.  It is aimed at making a record of the valuable work of the stalking pony for future generations to see and as an educational tool for ghillies and stalkers wanting to bring the ponies back to the hill.

Click on the DVD cover to see a short clip of what its like working with a pony on the hill for a day. The full DVD can be purchased in my shop. 

the DVD front cover

Join my Facebook 'stalking'  page here and keep up with everything my ponies and I get up to.  I also have another page you can join on the shop page for the items I make.

 

Highland ponies have been used for hundreds of years to bring home the game.  It may take a little longer than modern ATV's, but a pony is a lot quieter and can access places modern equipment cannot.  Today people are looking for greener options - what better way to be green than to be authentic

The estates I have worked on over the years include:  Rhidorroch,  Assynt, Dundonnel,  Eilean darroch,  Gruinard,  and   Glen Affric.   I have worked with some wonderful friends and taken out some fantastic guests over time.   What a great environment to meet such lovely people.

I am occasionally available for work along with either one or two ponies.  If you would like to know more then please contact me for availability. 

 

Returning home with two mares each carrying a hind

 

Stalking Demonstrations by The Frilly Ghillie

 

I also do demonstrations with my ponies round the country shows during the summer months on stalking and what it is all about. 

My demonstrations give an insight into the red deer cull, bringing the deer back to the larder on a Highland pony in the Scottish Highlands.  I will be available, ready to answer questions and promote both Scottish deer stalking and our beloved Highland Ponies.

 

The use of Ponies for carrying stags off the hill has been used since Victorian times when the guests would have ridden out and then returned on foot alongside the pony who carries their stag.

 

Highland ponies are excellent weight carriers and their kind temperament makes them ideal for training for many purposes.  They are not very tall, ranging from 13hh - 14.2hh, making them an ideal height for lifting a heavy stag onto.

 

Pictued here after a demo at Burghley

My two ponies outside Burghley after doing a weekend of demonstrations

 

Their natural gait is a steady walk which is excellent over rough terrain.  They are extremely sure footed and their natural instinct teaches them how to navigate their way around and across the many bogs and rocky ground.

 

There are three designs of  saddles for the purpose.  Each design has been developed to the prefered specifications of those using them on different estates.  This is why today there are so many different looking saddles for this use.  The first style being much like a conventional riding saddle in shape, with added straps for fastening the stag on with.  This is called a 'combination' saddle.  The second and third are the 'Glen Strathfarrer' and the 'Glen Quoich', which differ in their strap arrangements and their sizes.  These saddles have two or three girths, a breastplate, breeching and a surcingle, all to help with holding the saddle in position on the pony.  In addition, there are several straps for securing the stag in position on top of the saddle.

  The Combination Saddle

     The Glen Strathfarrer Saddle

 The Glen Quoich Saddle

To watch a short video on tacking up a stalking saddle and see how all the straps fit click the 'Glen Strathfarrer' saddle above.

 

A deer chosen for the cull is either old, infirm or a switch. (A switch has long top tines/points on its antlers and they could damage and kill a good quality stag should they go into battle).

 

My demonstration includes a simulated stalk of a (dummy) stag, and how it is then strapped onto the pony.  I also talk about what clothing is desirable and why, and explain some to the equipment used.

 

3 ponies carrying a stag each

 

Talks By The Frilly Ghillie

I also talk, especially to ladies groups about the work I do.  This could be a lunchtime, afternoon or an evening.  I include tales and anecdotes from some of my favourite moments on the hills and in bothies.

If you require further information about a talk, or doing a demonstration at your show, then please email me or use the contact form.

 

Feeding the stags in winter

Talking staggies - saying 'Thank you' for their winter feeding.