John is the man that is ultimately in charge of the horses at Birtwick Park. He is wonderful with horses, and his team of stable boys are equally adept at taking care of the horses. One of those stable boys is James. James is very good at his job, and John is not afraid of giving him high praise:
. . . but I will say this, sir, that a steadier, pleasanter, honester, smarter young fellow I never had in this stable. I can trust his word and I can trust his work; he is gentle and clever with the horses, and I would rather have them in charge with him than with half the young fellows I know of in laced hats and liveries . . .
Unfortunately for Beauty and the other horses, James is so good at his job that he is highly marketable. For this reason, Squire Gordon recommends James for a groom job at another estate that is nearby. Obviously, both John and Beauty are very sad to see James go.
The groom that takes over for James is much younger and much more inexperienced. The groom that takes over is Joe Green. He is fourteen and a half years old. In addition to his youth and inexperience is the fact that Joe is not even tall enough to do certain stable boy tasks. Fortunately, John is a good teacher and determined to make a good stable hand out of Joe. He makes some mistakes early on, and one of those mistakes almost costs Beauty his life, but Joe learns from those mistakes and works very hard. He ends up being a stable boy trusted by both Beauty and John.