A pewter-dun Criollo gelding, Gonzo stood 15.1 hands high, was eight years old and had originally been imported into Italy as a slaughter horse. Slipping the butcher’s hook, he won remission as a hack in a stable outside Assisi but, being tricky to handle, wound up nobody’s favourite. He was sharp, aloof, hard to know and the plan was to tip him back into the meat trade.

The coin was still fluttering in the air when I pitched up, and I knew straight away he was what I wanted. I was looking for a horse who liked his own company, a horse with plenty of distance. The haggle was brief.

That night ...


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