Oakley, the whipper-in’s horse, is more like a hare than a horse. He has no topline to his flea-bitten grey neck at all – emphasised by his hogged mane – but a set of hindquarters of which Kim Kardashian would be proud. This is because he spends most of the day going from 0 to 60 as his eager young rider dashes from one place to another, trying to be in the right place at the right time and therefore avoid another explosion of fury from the huntsman.
Oakley, who would beat Usain Bolt out of the blocks, loves it. He hears and sees hounds before any human, little grey ears pricked as hard as they can be and, despite standing still as a statue, quivers continually in anticipation. He doesn’t need a rider to whip-in – he’d do it quite as well on his own.
The field master’s horse
Each September, Flash’s owner declares that he hates him and he’s definitely selling him before Christmas. Flash, a good-looking chestnut thoroughbred with a white blaze, is horrible to hack – he naps, he whips round, he spooks, he leaps into the hedge in terror if a tractor appears. He needs serious sedation to clip and he tries to kick the farrier.
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