Every so often there’s a horse that catches the equestrian world’s imagination, based not on British Eventing points or four-star wins, but instead on an unusual star quality and the hope that we all might have a four-star horse in our humble-looking cobs… And Mulrys Error is one of those very horses.
The ‘supercob’ completed his final four-star in front of a cheering crowd at Badminton Horse Trials yesterday (6 May 2018) and will now enjoy an active retirement as a schoolmaster and hunter.
We take a look at what has made Ben Hobday’s ride such a sensation during his career…
1. He’s social media savvy
Mulrys Error has garnered a Twitter following of 4,560 and describes himself as a “Yorkshire lad. International Eventer. Biggest feet in the business. Partner in crime @BenHobday. @SallieRyle pays the bills.” Let’s hope he keeps us updated with his fun-filled retirement…
2. He came from humble beginnings
Life started in Roscommon, Ireland for the 16.1hh bay gelding. “He’s by an aristocratic father who had a night of passion with a bit of rough,” says Mulry’s owner Sallie Ryle. “His dam is an un-registered Clydesdale who was bought by farmer Michael Fallon as sheep shearing payment, and his sire Eves Error was a local thoroughbred champion miler with an extensive pedigree.”
Raised alongside his dam until he was two years old, Mulry was then papered by Michael’s friend Mark Mulry (hence the name) and taken to Ballinasloe Fair.
“He was sold for €1,600 as an unbroken three-year-old to Peter Houlston who bought him to the UK, backed him and turned him away,” explains Sallie.
“At the time, I was looking for a horse for myself and my daughter Vannessa to share. My friend Richard Howard, a dealer in Yorkshire, got in touch to say he had the perfect horse, so we went to have a look and Mulry was as good as Richard’s word so I bought him.”
3. His hooves have to be seen to be believed
Mulry is well known for his rather large hooves, but it wasn’t until Sallie went to collect him that she saw them in all their glory.
“When we tried him, the grass was long and Mulry had over-reach boots on so I didn’t see his feet. When I finally saw them, I nearly freaked out — they were like dinner plates! I’m glad in a way because I don’t think I’d have bought him.”
4. He’s well built despite his breeding
“I’ve always loved this horse,” says Olympic eventer Ian Stark who gave the horse his nickname – Super Cob. “Back in the day, all the showjumpers used to love the thoroughbred-draught cross because they have so much to offer and like to please. Despite his old-fashioned breeding, Mulry is incredibly well put together and rangy with a lot of scope and good balance.”
5. He has exceeded all expectations
Once back at his new home, Mulry exceeded his owners’ expectations, taking them both hunting safely and eventing with Sallie up to novice level. “I did Chatsworth on him the year I turned 60 and then decided to pack it in,” she says. “I’d been having lessons with Ben Hobday and offered him the ride, and that’s how it all started.”
6. He’s been part of the ultimate story of triumph over adversity
Mulry’s eventual rider Ben was diagnosed with cancer in June 2015, completed his chemotherapy treatment in September the same year, and was back in the saddle shortly afterwards. In May 2016 the pair rode a double clear at Badminton to finish 32nd — a story that inspired riders and non-riders alike across the globe.
Previously the pair had finished 54th at Badminton in 2015, 29th at Burghley in 2014, and 11th in the Bramham U25 championship in 2013. “It was just a bit of fun in the beginning — we never thought he’d get to this level,” says Ben.
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7. He’s proved that anything is possible with a dose of ‘Usain Bolt’s self-confidence’
“Although he looks fit and swathe now, if you saw him in the field in the winter, you’d see a big, fat, hairy Clydesdale,” says Ben. “But he is agile and athletic with Usain Bolt’s self-confidence and that’s what has got him to top level.”
Don’t miss this Thursday’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (10 May 2018) for the full report and analysis from Badminton Horse Trials 2018
For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine out every Thursday