Home of the aerial performers
Horseman Doo Kits
by Scottish Fancier, John Muir, describing a sport often frowned upon by the mainstream pigeon fraternity.
Although the owners of these birds are not attempting to reveal the homozygosis or create the perfect racing family, this sport creates enough pleasure for those involved for it to be preserved for future generations.
There are basic rules involved regarding the flying of these birds and as long as this is grasped by everyone involved, disputes are kept to a minimum. I have known persons who keep and fly these birds and have found them to know as much about columbiformes as members of racing pigeon clubs, or even those who import and show fancy pigeons.
I believe it shouldn't matter if you keep pigeons for working, racing or showing, everyone involved holds the same regard for their birds general well-being. I also think these differing pigeon fraternities should have far more contact with each other, only when this is made possible will we see each of these hobbies flourish again in their own right.
Despite the bad press attributed to 'Working Blowers' or 'Horseman Thief Pigeons' this pastime remains popular within certain towns and surrounding areas. Although certainly a working class sport, the birds themselves are held in as high regard as the three times NPA cert winner or the keenest of racers.
These Horseman, however, are not judged by size, color or velocity, but by their gift for returning to their own loft with similar species types, then enticing the 'visitor' on to a landing board where it can be caught to be sold, swapped with a dealer (a Horseman owner from a different area) or retrained to a new loft (if relatively new to the area).
The Horseman's appearance is of little importance, there is no standard of breed type for working birds, although a certain 'blow' is required. Racers are deemed unfavorable in this sport although 'proud hens' are sometimes used. To keep and fly Horseman all that is required is a 'set of boxes' (fig 1) and a 'set of pens' to house them. This means that boxes can be set up from a window and the birds flown from home, this can be an advantage from high windows although not many birds can be kept. (This practice is still held in certain areas).
Horseman spend much of their time in individual pens so the loft takes up very little space. The roof should be as small as possible to keep 'play' to a minimum. The loft is based around a landing board which leads into two boxes and also into the loft. A wire trap or 'hood' covers the landing board by means of a pulley which prevents birds leaving when caught.
All breeds of blowers are known for their desire and readiness to pair up and breed; this factor is essential for this sport. Horseman are settled, paired up, then homed. They are then separated from their mate and remain single for a time; this is known as giving the bird 'guts'. On release these birds are in determined mood and will quickly meet up and 'show' to members of other lofts. Sex almost certainly takes place and the birds take flight, hopefully returning home with their new mate.
A good Horseman will head straight back to its own landing board and enter the boxes, it will then call the visiting bird in to be caught. It is unusual for this to happen exactly as explained, the visiting birds may only land on a surrounding roof. If so then the resident bird has to be 'worked' to entice it down, ie the back of the boxes is opened and the resident bird is 'walked out'. It is at this time the owner is tested because he must be able to open the boxes without startling his birds. (A certain rapport must be forged between Horseman and owner, this is one of the many aspects which have resulted in the continuation of this sport).
A good owner can have birds for years without losing them. These birds may land on other lofts but never stray on to the landing board. This may hold true after a number of weeks without mating and is very interesting to watch!
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