Brough Scott: ‘I used to sneer at mules, but now I’ve ridden one I will eat my words’

  • As a former jockey, Brough Scott has plenty of experience riding Thoroughbreds, but before a riding holiday to Andalusia in May, Brough had never before ridden a mule — a cross between a donkey and a horse. The author, journalist and racing broadcaster reveals to H&H he was, in fact, pleasantly surprised by the experience.

    “Now I have met Amigo, I am ashamed to have previously sneered at the thought of riding a mule,” says Brough. “I have to eat all those derogatory words I said about mules in the past. Amigo was a four-year-old, almost 15.3hh mule. He was only broken in February but he was incredibly athletic and nimble, as well as being markedly more intelligent and independently-minded than a horse.”

    Brough described Amigo — the result of an Andalucian mare being covered by a male donkey — as “extraordinary” during a five-hour trek in the mountainous High Sierra courtesy of horse riding holidays provider Ride Andalucia.

    “He was not only handsome but highly intelligent, he was sure about where he was going and what he was doing. We were walking along narrow mountain paths, over boulders and through streams, yet he was so sure-footed and nimble on his feet, bearing in mind they do not have shoes on either,” adds Brough. “They are very different to riding horses, the trot was very smooth, not at all bouncy.

    “I rode Amigo with a loose rein and I was amazed by the self-confidence he had while going along the narrow paths — he was very calm and intelligent about where he was going.”

    Amigo was broken in by Dan VanWyk, a former history teacher and war veteran according to Brough, who was raised on the ranch and now runs Ride Andalucia.

    “Amigo was also surprisingly athletic and his leap was more like that of a dog than any horse. Similar to donkeys, mules are not flight animals like horses and if they sense fear they hide instead of running away, which is why Amigo was so calm and canny on those steep mountain paths.

    “Mules also have amazing endurance, and can carry much more weight on their backs than horses. They have very independent minds and you can’t boss them around too much, plus I very much enjoyed Amigo’s huge ears swinging back and forth.

    “Amigo was most certainly the making of my trip — it was a brilliant experience.”

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