When you’re looking for someone to do a dressage demonstration at one of the top dates in the British Eventing calendar, and you’ve got Valegro’s boots to fill, who do you go for?
For the organisers of the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe this weekend, it was an obvious choice.
Newly-registered British Dressage super-mule Wallace The Great will continue his quest for long-eared world domination by strutting his stuff in front of thousands of people.
Rider Christie Mclean and Wallace were invited by festival organisers to give the demonstration – which last year featured retired world-beater Valegro with Charlotte Dujardin – on Saturday and Sunday, 4 and 5 August.
“When I was invited, they told me that last year it was Valegro and this year it’s Wallace; I can’t believe it!” Christie told H&H.
“We’ll be part of the dressage demo; there will be another horse in the arena and I think we’ll just be asked to walk, trot and canter – then they want us to do a meet and greet afterwards so people can get selfies with Wallace. It’s the ears, you can’t resist them!”
Christie said she has been told to expect a crowd of thousands.
“I’ve never ridden him on grass, so I’ll be making some extra effort to school him on grass beforehand, and make sure I’ve got full control, and that he’s not going to disappear with me or put his head down to eat!” she added.
Christie is still almost unable to believe Wallace’s rise to fame, from being banned from British Dressage (BD) competition in June, to national and global media superstar, to winning his first BD class last month.
“I don’t know when or where or if it’s all going to end,” she said, “But I’m really excited. He’s so much fun to ride.
“I was jumping about when I found out, saying ‘Oh my god, I’m going to Gatcombe’; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and even my parents are coming from Weymouth to watch because they know they’ll never see this again.”
Christie added that the demo will prove dressage is accessible.
“It’s good that we’re at the bottom level,” she said. “My lower leg doesn’t stay in one place and I haven’t got the best core, but people will be able to see that it’s not all prancy ponies, British Dressage is also for everyday people.
“And alongside the novelty of Wallace, I hope it will show that you don’t have to have the physique of a grand prix combination; mums and people who work in offices and don’t have access to the gym can do it too.”
BD has released a statement this morning saying Wallace The Great and ‘his fellow mules’ may enter affiliated competitions
‘I started riding on a donkey so I’m glad BD has taken this great opportunity’
The rider had hoped to take part in team quest affiliated competition with Wallace The Great
Event director Peter Phillips said: “We are delighted that Wallace The Great and Christie will be taking part in the dressage display, here at the Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing this weekend.
“We are so impressed with their achievements this year and we are very much looking forward to watching Wallace show off his moves in the main arena.”
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