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
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’