Donkeys and mules are officially welcome at Endurance GB (EGB) rides this year, thanks to a change in the organisation’s rules.
In a summary of confirmed changes for 2019, EGB said it was time to “regularise” the long-eared mounts’ status in the rule book.
“We’ve had some riding with us for years with no issue, and we thought it was time to legitimise them,” Esther Young, chair of the EGB operations committee, told H&H.
“There’s a handful of them and they were allowed to take part but the rule book only specified horses and ponies, and we did get the odd query about whether a rider could bring one.
“The British Mule Society has picked it up, so we’re hoping to work with them on some endurance awards, which might encourage a few more. We’ve also had some giant American donkeys – about 15hh with huge ears – taking part in a pleasure ride.”
Among other changes are some made to benefit welfare. These include the banning of pleasure rides of more than 34km in one day; riders who wish to ride longer distances should enter graded rides with full vettings.
Another welfare-based change states that any ride of 80km or more should have at least one vet hold, at least 40 minutes’ duration, while a separate rule now removes the ban on helmet cameras.
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Ride organisers will also now be able to offer novice “foundation” graded rides of between 20 and 29km. These will not carry conventional trophy points, although a trophy may be awarded for this category of ride at the end of the season.
A change to vetting procedures in graded rides states that no examination “likely to irritate or distress” a horse may be carried out until after the pulse has been taken.
For more on the helmet cameras rule change, see this week’s edition of H&H (24 January)