Carl Hester: Mule equality in dressage is a great thing *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    Well done to the British Dressage (BD) board for its quick decision to realign the rules and allow Wallace the mule to compete in the Team Quest classes his rider is aiming for.

    After all, I started riding on a donkey, so I’m glad BD has taken up this great opportunity to expand its growing membership and, as a charity, to highlight its inclusiveness.

    One again, however, I am totally lost for words at some of the horrible comments on social media. At the end of the day, BD was following rules and should not be subjected to attacks that are totally out of order, and often personal. Now that Wallace gets his day in the arena, I hope those who were so quick off the mark to damn are just as quick to praise BD for their decision.

    Wallace has become a celebrity in the process: the first I saw of it — and I was amazed — was on page four of The Daily Mail. Let’s hope that The Daily Mail now follows up with a more positive conclusion.

    A steady course

    The phrase strong and stable has been overused, but I do think it is an eminently sensible idea of BD’s to appoint an interim chairman for a year, to facilitate time for candidates to come forward, canvass and campaign and be elected through due process, instead of rushing ahead after Penny Pollard’s sad resignation.

    It will be voted on at the AGM on 20 September, but their choice of Linda Whetstone gets my backing. A safe, reliable and extremely intelligent choice, Linda’s vast amount of experience would enable her to steer BD on a steady course.

    Mares and hormones

    Regumate is a useful hormonal control for mares who react very differently when in season. It generally has a calming influence and therefore it would not be normal to give it to mares other than to aid their relaxation.

    I do hope people are using it for that reason, not as a substitute for good training. For those mares who seem to be constantly in season, it is a dream product, but use in competition does require an FEI veterinary form two, which you can get from your vet. It seems not many people are aware of this.


    The return of German multi-medalllist Isabell Werth’s Bella Rose to competition at Fritzens caused an internet sensation. How super it was for Isabell and Bella’s connections as well as fans to see the mare healthy and back at the top. A grand prix score of over 77% after a break of three-and-a-half years shows the relationship they have.

    So I was rather disturbed to see on one website the half-passes described as “cringeworthy”. One only has to look up the individual marks to see those half-passes did not make anyone cringe with embarrassment — in fact, far from it. I do wish there were more journalists around these days who can present the facts, the highs and lows of the test, and promote the positives.

    Maybe shows could also be more proactive in promoting the full story. Using an informal slang word to describe a movement so inaccurately is positively, well, cringeworthy.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 12 July 2018