Equine racism?

I had to laugh at this report from Britain.

A talented mule has been blocked from competing in high level British dressage competitions, amid outrage from horse riders.

Christie Mclean, 30, from Stroud, Gloucestershire, had hoped to ride Wallace The Great, an 11-year-old rescue mule, in competitions with her dressage team.

But he has been barred by British Dressage because high level competitions are only open to horses and ponies – a rule branded “equine racism” by Christie.

Wallace, who only took up dressage at a low level last month, has been doing well in local competitions, placing third in his last attempt.

Like horses and ponies he has to perform circles, loops, semi-circles and straight lines in both walk and trot.

“He enjoys his dressage,” said Christie, “He’s a happy little chap.”

. . .

A British Dressage spokesman said: “We don’t have anything against mules or donkeys, but our rule book is quite specific. It refers to horses and ponies.

“It could be time to change the rules. Wallace may be the one to do just that. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility. But currently, sorry Wallace, beautiful and lovely as you are, it’s a no.”

There’s more at the link.

One wonders whether the reason for that rule is that owners who’ve spent hundreds or thousands of pounds on a prize-winning dressage horse don’t want to see their pride and joy beaten by, as well as like, a rented mule?



  1. Im tired of everyone looking for exceptions because they feel the rules shouldnt apply to them.
    If she doesnt like the rules, she is free to start her own dressage competition for whatever animals she wishes.

  2. I've always heard that mules are smarter than horses; maybe the upper crust is scared. – lol

  3. The status quo is afraid of being beaten to death by a mere amateur riding a mule, of all things. Can you imagine? A mule? Well, I should say!

    They limit the competition to horses and ponies, and there's a reason for that. Teaching a pony to do anything other than eat, sleep, and produce road apples is a task reserved for people who enjoy frustration. Ponies are an obstinate, irascible breed. They don't make good pets, and while they can be trained, it isn't easy and it isn't fun. The idiots at PETA would have a litter of kittens at the methods used for training a pony.

    Donkeys are prohibited for reasons of disposition and intelligence. The donkey has a disposition closer to that of a dog, and they are very intelligent. While no one has actually tried this, I have no doubt that a donkey could be trained to dressage, and with a good trainer would learn faster than a horse and out perform most horses right out of the box. So, no donkeys. Sorry.

    Mules are a half-breed, being half horse, half donkey. They have a donkey's intelligence coupled with the horse's disposition, and so are easy to train and very smart. You can train a mule in much the same way as a horse, but you'll have better and faster results if you employ a mule trainer. I have no doubt that the mule will win at dressage.

    The bottom line here is a combination of tradition, pride, and cost. That last is a major factor among owners. Some of these dressage horses are selling for six figures – how would you like to explain to a potential buyer that the horse he's about to purchase was beaten by a mule? Then there are the dressage stables and trainers, both of which cast a lot of money and neither of whom wants cheap competition – my free-to-good-home mule versus your fifty grand Trakehner, or Heaven help us all, a Lipizzan.

    This kind of behavior among horse people isn't new. Your unknown of uncertain heritage isn't allowed to compete, because he's an unknown – and might win, you see, which would upset a lot of people whose income relies on someone else winning.

    Me, I'd let the mule compete, and welcome.

  4. All the officials have to do is add another category to their show for mules. Christie Mclean needs to encourage mule riding wherever she goes until there are enough riders to back the officials into a corner to get said category. Show how it will make money and the hoity-toity well embrace it.

  5. Divemedic is correct. While the attitude Mad Jack speaks of may be common, that doesn't change the fact that this is their competition. Their organization is free to make whatever rules they want, and to include or exclude whomever or whatever they want.

    Do the trans-males get to compete against the females? Oh, sorry; that's just Texas girls wrestling.

    Once " you have to include me " starts . . .

  6. I owned a racking mule, (think Tennessee Walkers) She racked better then horses and I could do dressage with her. I never entered any dressage events because of the above stated animosity. I just enjoyed her and rode her contented I was not going to be thrown or have a spooked horse on my hands.

  7. We had five gaited American Saddlebreds when I was growing up. I wouldn't doubt for a second you could teach a mule to rack and slow gait.

    Urbane Legend and Divemedic's point is well taken, and it would be a lot easier to live with were it not for the attitude that some of these dressage people have – think in terms of we who actually understand how to train and work a horse and the rest of you dime store cowboys.

  8. Dressage is ultimately a martial art.

    Mules (particularly fine Spanish mules) were once widely used as riding steeds for ladies and some men, but were generally considered to be too smart and untrusting to go into battle.

    So I am sure somebody somewhere has a dressage organization for mules or donkeys, but it just would not be the same.

    That said, you don't really see pony dressage, except for kids doing a practice version. And again, it would be silly to teach ponies battle techniques, when they would not belong in a battle.

  9. Christie should tell them that Wallace *identifies* as a pony, and dare them to make something of it.

  10. In the U.S. Mules are allowed and do occasionally compete in Dressage. And at least one has made it to a National level competition. http://horsesdaily.com/article/mule-named-dyna-poised-make-dressage-history
    It's a lower level, but still it's the National Championships. For those of you that aren't familiar with it, Dressage is an incredibly difficult discipline. While upper level riders make it look easy, it's because they've worked so darned hard to get there.

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