Mule dressage under threat from international body

Christie Mclean and Wallace with his rosette
Image caption British Dressage changed its rules to allow Wallace to compete after Christie Mclean’s campaign

A rider who campaigned for mules to compete in top UK dressage events is now taking on the international body.

Wallace the mule was banned from competing last year but after a campaign by his rider Christie Mclean, British Dressage changed its rules.

Now the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) is voting on whether to exclude mules from its competitions.

Ms McLean said: “We’re never going to see a mule riding at Grand Prix but at low level shows why exclude them?”

Up until last year, only horses and ponies were allowed to compete in dressage in the UK.

But following a campaign by Ms Mclean, from Stroud in Gloucestershire, the rules were changed to allow all animals born to a mare to take part.

Image copyright Christie Mclean
Image caption Wallace was rescued by a donkey sanctuary after he annoyed villagers by tucking into flowers

Ms McLean said the FEI was now looking into rewriting its definition of the term ‘horse’ which would “close the door on allowing mules to compete”.

The horse trainer has set up an online petition, which has attracted more than 20,000 signatures so far.

“It’s not just a one joke wonder. There are mules and riders out there that are doing this, enjoying it and doing well,” she said.

A mule is a hybrid animal born of a male donkey and a mare.

“Mules have more in common with horses than not and therefore should be viewed simply as another breed,” Ms McLean said.

The FEI said it was in “ongoing discussions” regarding the proposal to “change the definition of horse” in its regulations.

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