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Warmblood Breeding & Naval Aviation:

That’s the question posed by retired Royal Navy Commander Denis Thornton; a former nuclear bomber

pilot, helicopter pilot and latterly Harrier jump jet fight- er pilot with 25 years of service to her Majesty the Queen of England; she awarded him the Air Force Cross at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace in 1985.

I could say that Warmbloods have four legs, one head and a tail, and a brain that does its own thing at times but has a desire to please and befriend a human if possible –particularly one that brings greet- ings and gifts! That was my level of knowledge of Warmbloods eleven years ago when I first met my wife Jean. Since then I have learned some stuff – enough to sound like an expert and thus be outstandingly dangerous – just like those steely Harrier pilots who just got to 150 hours flight time in the jet and thought they had it ‘mastered.’

As I half fell backwards to a sitting position in the soft sugar sand by the paddock gate, I recall seeing this mare leaping over me and the underside of the stal- lion’s front hooves poised some ten feet above my head. I was remind- ed of the nose of my mighty Buccaneer bomber as I would look up to check the fastener for security!

“You need to stop her moving for- ward!” I was told. “No problem” I replied.

Denis Thornton, in 1983, serving as Commanding Officer 899 in the Naval Air Squadron Royal Navy

As I fell sideways in the soft sugar sand, I recall seeing that same mare leaping past me and the hooves of this dirty great big stallion some fifteen feet above my head which was now at ground level. I was reminded of the belly of the Search and Rescue helicop- ter hovering over me to lift me out of my survival dinghy!

“Keep the rope shorter!” I was told. ‘No problem” I replied.

I agree that it is quite a bizarre comparison to make but it’s one I have been making for some time since my ‘involvement.’ I recall some ten years ago when I was invited to assist Jean and her stallion to breed an eleven year old maiden mare by live cover. “No prob- lem” I said, when I was asked to hold the lead rope for the mare and stand in front of her to stop her moving forward as Jean’s classically substantial Lipizzaner stal- lion reared to mount her.

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As the rope burned through my white knuckled hand, I recall seeing that same mare leaping away to the far end of the paddock and this huge (well it looked it from my supine position) Lipizzaner stallion staring down at me in disgust because I couldn’t keep this mare still while he did his duty! I was reminded of my friendship with a space shuttle crew who used to ban- ter that well known expression ‘NASA – We have a problem!’ Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76
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