Veteran mule overcomes colic surgery to win BD dressage to music class

  • A 26-year-old mule who overcame emergency colic surgery last year has won his first British Dressage (BD) class.

    Fergus and rider Laura Jones may have been the only entrant in the class, an intro-level dressage to music at Onley Grounds last Friday (13 August), but they scored a respectable 61% and “he absolutely loved it”, Laura said.

    Laura told H&H she has been riding Julia Clarke’s 13hh gelding since she was 11 – and he was 12.

    Together they did “everything a normal pony would do”, including dressage, showjumping, cross-country and mounted games, not to mention driving.

    “He’s taught plenty of kids to ride and most of them moved on to their own ponies but although I’ve got my own horse, I’ve continued to compete him,” Laura said.

    “We tried to register him with BD last year and were told we couldn’t, so we thought ‘fair enough’, and carried on with unaffiliated competition as we do it all for fun.”

    But when fellow mule Wallace The Great was also refused permission to join BD this year, and that decision was reversed after his story went viral, Laura and Julia realised they could follow him into the BD ranks.

    “When we saw Wallace had been registered, it was amazing,” Laura said.

    “We’re hoping to do some Team Quest competitions too, and really get him out and about because he loves it.

    “Last Friday was the first affiliated competition for both of us but I thought we’d give it a try. We were the only ones in the class which meant we got a red ribbon, bless him. He was a bit scared of the white boards at first but the judge loved him, and he absolutely loved it.”

    Fergus had to undergo emergency surgery last April, at the age of 25, but he surprised vets by pulling through, and then competing at the Trailblazers dressage championships a matter of weeks later.

    “The vets were amazing, and they said it was the quickest they’d ever seen anything recover from the surgery!” Laura said.

    “He’s going a bit grey now and I think he’s shrunk a bit with age but he’s lovely to ride; the safest thing in the world.

    “He can be cheeky – if you’re riding on the sand track at our yard, he’ll give you a bit of warning and then go down on his knees and roll, plus he gets under fences; he’ll lie down, shuffle round, then get up on the other side and bugger off!

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    “He doesn’t have any withers so he has a crupper, and he teaches people to sit up as otherwise you fly down his neck when he puts his head down, but I always say he’s just like any Pony Club pony, just with massive ears.

    “I’m just so grateful to BD that we’ve now got the chance to be involved; it’s made everything more enjoyable for us.”

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