‘He’s just got enormous ears’: Rider’s wish to compete her dressage mule quashed

  • A rider who wants to register the mule she rides as a British Dressage (BD) club member has questioned why her application has been refused.

    Christie Mclean had already ridden Wallace The Great in unaffiliated competitions with success, and as some horses on her BD team quest squad had been suffering from lameness, she thought she had the answer.

    She applied for club membership with him, to compete at intro level, but was told only horse and ponies may be registered.

    “It’s an interesting one,” Christie told H&H. “They just said no but couldn’t really give me a valid reason why.”

    Christie said Wallace was abandoned in Ireland and attached himself to a village, but “he was so bad for eating all the flowers in people’s gardens, they started feeding him hay in a bus stop”.

    He was taken in by a charity and eventually brought to England to live with the Donkey Sanctuary. Lesley Radcliffe, a friend of Christie’s, took him on and wanted him to have a job.

    “She asked if I’d compete him,” Christie said. “I thought it would be fun and a bit different, and we did a couple of tests and got high percentages.

    “He works in a beautiful outline, he’s very consistent with his paces, just a bit unbalanced in canter as he’s still a bit weak.”

    Christie said BD told her the Donkey Sanctuary could advise her on competitions she could enter with 11-year-old Wallace, but “that I’d have to ask venues if I could take him before I went”.

    “But I’ve never had a problem with him,” she said. “If anything, it’s riders who get flappy, saying their horses will have a meltdown, and the horses just second-look him and are fine.

    “He’s very sweet and laid-back, and he never brays when we’re out. He just looks like a nice New Forest pony, with a bigger head and some pretty enormous ears, that’s it.”

    Christie said she only wants Wallace to compete in some intro team quest tests and “see where it takes us”.

    “I don’t think BD would be bombarded with mule applications if they let us in,” she said.

    “Is it really a problem? We’re not going to offend anyone or hurt anyone, and there’s a good chance we won’t be around any high-level dressage horses who might be upset by him, as they won’t be at the intro tests.”

    Christie agreed she would love to see the mule go up the levels.

    “Imagine seeing Wallace The Great going extended all down the long side,” she said. “It would be brilliant.”

    Continues below…

    BD head of sport operations Di Harvey said: “British Dressage does sympathise with Christie and Wallace’s situation but our rule book refers specifically to only horses and ponies within our affiliated competition criteria. We take our lead from the FEI which also doesn’t permit mules under its rules.

    “We really hope they can continue their competition career in the shows offered by the British Mule Society and the network of venues which run unaffiliated dressage and wish them the best of luck.”

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

    You may like...