In a fascinating programme on horse culture in Montana last night on the BBC, Alexandra Tolstoy gets to ride quarter horses round barrels in a competition as well as breaking in the animals and rounding up cattle beneath the searing midday sun. A campfire chat with the cowboys beneath the stars reveals how they are totally in rapport with their animals, from early childhood on. I used to see horses as just furry animals with a leg at each corner but clearly my appreciation is maturing. For a bettor, it’s surely indispensable to understand the nature of the beast.

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