A FORMER Blandford pupil has gone 'against the grain' of pursuing studies at university and decided to make a career from falconry.

Roberta 'Bobbie' King is set to embark on her first summer within the niche sport - which will see her train as a professional horseback falconer - an ancient skill of hunting small wild game or birds with trained birds of prey.

The 19-year-old, who is a former pupil at Milton Abbey School, in Blandford said she has been studying everything there is to know about training birds of prey during the coronavirus pandemic, and one day soon hopes to be involved in upcoming events across Dorset and beyond.

She said: "I first got into falconry when I was 16 and I've loved everything about it ever since.

"During the pandemic I've been studying all aspects of falconry and taking online courses including pest and predator control, as well as rescue and rehabilitation."

Ms King is being trained under the tutelage of professional falconry tutor Ben Long, who is based in Gloucestershire.

During the summer the master and apprentice are hoping to tour up and down the country, where Ms King will don an authentic and traditional Tudor-themed falconry outfit while riding horseback.

"The outfit was popular during the Tudor period, but it can be quite heavy at times." she said.

Living in Poole, Ms King spoke about why she decided to go down the unconventional route of falconry.

"Some may argue it's going against the grain, but I feel school pushes students to go to university and after I was introduced to this line of work - I knew it's what I wanted to do," said Mr King.

"It's not just about the hunting of wild animals in their natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey - it's also about the study of these majestic creatures and caring for them.

"It can be quite intimidating at first to be around these birds, but they're amazing."

The budding bird enthusiast said she will keep studying hard and is patiently waiting for news of any booked shows over the course of the summer period.

Ms King also said one day she hopes to start her own business in falconry.

For more info, visit: www.benlongfalconry.co.uk