What makes the ideal master’s horse?

  • Rupert Nuttall, joint master of the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale, explains what makes a great master’s horse

    Masters of Foxhounds look for many different things in an ideal horse, but on one point they’re unanimous: they are difficult to find and once you find a good one, you don’t let it go.

    “I’m not bothered what they look like,” says Rupert Nuttall, joint master of the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale, a farmer, dealer and former Whitbread Gold Cup-winning jockey.

    “Good horses come in all shapes and sizes. Two of my best have looked completely different. One was a little 15.3hh mare called Mouse’s Sister, who twice came third in the Marlborough Cup timber race and was really bold and careful.

    “But my best horse – and I’d say he’s about the best horse in the country – is a 17.3hh Irish chesnut who isn’t a blood horse at all. He’s called JC – short for Jasper Carrot, or Jesus Christ, depending how he’s going.

    “I’ve had him around 10 years and I’ve always refused to sell him. You couldn’t put a value on him. He’s not the fastest horse, and if he were a human he’d be a thug with three studs in his nose, but going into a fence, he’s the one you want to be on.”

    In the B&SV’s famously challenging country, this is no empty boast.

    “He once cleared a 23ft spread with a 5ft 6in ditch forwards,” confirms Nuttall phlegmatically. “He’s got me out of trouble more times than I can remember. He’s known from the Meynell to the Beaufort and puts the fear of God into people whenever he gets off the lorry.”

    So what do other masters look for in a horse?

      Diana Scott, joint-master of the Devon and Somerset
      1) Quality
      2) Manners
      3) Courage

      Jules Hodgkinson, joint-master of the Warwickshire
      1) Boldness
      2) Manners
      3) Trustworthiness with hounds

      Richard Sumner, joint-master of the Heythrop
      1) Soundness
      2) A good engine
      3) A good jump and the boldness to go first

    Read more about master’s horses in Horse & Hound’s 29-page Hunting Special on sale this week (31 October), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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