Hunter of a life­time The ‘enor­mous’ Asbo

The ‘per­fect’ and ‘enor­mous’ field mas­ter’s horse who is a com­plete en­thu­si­ast with a real thing for jump­ing

Horse & Hound - - News Insider -

SIZE isn’t every­thing, but it is the first thing you no­tice about the 17.2hh Asbo.

“He is enor­mous,” says James Buckle MFH of his “per­fect horse” on whom he field mas­ters with the Es­sex and Suf­folk.

“He has to have his shoes made spe­cially for him be­cause his feet are like din­ner plates.”

Asbo’s size meant his early ed­u­ca­tion was steady: “He has al­ways been so big that we didn’t rush him and he was five be­fore he first came out hunt­ing.”

The pa­tient be­gin­ning paid off and Asbo, now 13, loves his work — al­most too much. “He is an en­thu­si­ast, which can be an­noy­ing at times,” ad­mits James. “He gets so ex­cited that he be­comes a rock­ing horse, bounc­ing up and down with his front legs. Luck­ily, he is so big it’s not un­com­fort­able.”

That is, if James stays on top: “His ex­cite­ment does some­times get the bet­ter of him and I end up on the floor hav­ing no idea how I got there. It doesn’t usu­ally hap­pen at the meet, but very soon af­ter­wards.”

Bounc­ing is not his only trans­gres­sion: “I’m told he’s per­fect to do in ev­ery re­spect,” ex­plains James, “ex­cept when it comes to the den­tist. He has to be heav­ily se­dated, or he throws ev­ery­one around the stable.”

His strength is ev­i­dent in the field, too.

“He will jump any­thing, even from a stand­still,” says James. “He’s the most pow­er­ful horse I’ve ever sat on, con­stantly on the look­out for likely ob­sta­cles. Be­fore you know what has hap­pened, he has locked on and it takes con­sid­er­able strength to dis­cour­age him.”

Re­mark­ably, given all this, Asbo doesn’t owe his name to his be­hav­iour, but to his mother, Hooli­gan. She was hunted by James’ wife, Heather, “al­most ev­ery day, and has passed on her abil­ity to Asbo and his half­si­b­lings, Toby and Nel­lie”.

Asbo, Bo to his friends, boasts an il­lus­tri­ous fa­ther: in­flu­en­tial sport horse sire Lord David S, son of Ni­jinksy.

Asbo is good-look­ing, “and knows it”, but doesn’t have the best style over fences. “How­ever big the hedge, he gives it plenty of clear­ance. He tends to land in a rather un­gainly man­ner, on all four feet, but he seems happy and it doesn’t slow him down.”

Most field mas­ter’s horses ob­ject to be­ing rid­den in the field, but not Asbo. “Bo be­haves like a pussy­cat when any­one else rides him,” notes James. “Then, he’s happy to take his turn jump­ing, but it’s dif­fer­ent when he’s do­ing his job.”

Asbo “loves to watch hounds work­ing”, but jump­ing is his thing. Pro­vided den­tists stay clear, this is one hooli­gan who need never fear jail.

‘Be­fore you know what has hap­pened, he has locked on, and it takes con­sid­er­able strength to dis­cour­age him’

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