Hazel Southam - Journalist

Victory for Wallace the mule

The Daily Telegraph 5 July 2018:
A mule who was banned from high level dressage competitions is to be allowed to take part, following a public outcry.

The Board of Directors of British Dressage, the sport’s governing body, met on Monday to consider the plight of Wallace The Great and released a statement on Wednesday saying that not only could he compete, but so can other mules.

Chief executive Jason Brautigam said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Wallace and his fellow mules to compete with BD, as part of our commitment to inclusion and diversity in dressage, making the sport more accessible to all.’

Christie Mclean, 30, who rides Wallace, said: “This is fantastic news. Such a huge thank you to British Dressage.

“I’m over the moon and completely overwhelmed. I never thought that this would happen in a million years.”

Until now, only horses and ponies were allowed to compete in high level dressage competitions. Though mules could compete at low-level, unaffiliated, tests.

Wallace – a rescue mule, who had been found in a bus shelter in Ireland and rescued by the Donkey Sanctuary – had been taking part in unaffiliated tests earlier this summer.

He had hoped to make up the numbers in a team taking part in the TeamQuest national championships, because some of the usual horses who would compete were lame. But he was banned.

Over the weekend, hundreds of horse riders expressed their outrage at the ban.

British Dressage has got round the stubborn problem of what to do with a mule, by changing its definition of a horse.

It will now follow international regulations which define a horse as a horse “or a pony or other member of the genus Equus. A horse shall be born from a mare.”

Mules are the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, so the European definition puts Wallace in the clear.

Wallace will compete in Gloucester on 21 July. Christie said, “I think Wallace will be absolutely ecstatic about it. He loves being around other horses and ponies. He really enjoys dressage and getting pats at the end.”

She added: “This ruling is important because it opens up the options for people and shows that British Dressage is equal and wants to see every level of equus do what they can do.”

British Dressage said that this change would come in “with immediate effect”.

hazel-southam

About Hazel

Hazel Southam is an award-winning journalist who reports on religious affairs, international development and the environment. She has covered four G8 Summits.

She wrote for The Sunday and Daily Telegraph for 10 years. Her work has also appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Daily Mail and The Evening Standard.

Reporting assignments have taken her to places including Bosnia, Zimbabwe, Mongolia, Albania, Nagorno-Karabakh, Senegal and the Arctic Circle.

In the UK, she has also delivered media training to the MOD and leading businesses.

Contact Hazel