Three horses on Christie Mclean's dressage team had gone lame, and as they were shorthanded, Mclean volunteered to ride Wallace the Great. Wallace had done well in local low-level dressage competitions for the past month. But he was rejected for competition.
With three competitions left to go in the season, her team were hoping that Wallace’s contribution could help them to qualify for a championship.
"It didn’t cross my mind that we wouldn’t be able to take part," said Christie.
But it was not to be, as British Dressage - the national body that oversees dancing horses - turned Wallace down because he’s a mule.
Yes, Wallace is an 11-year-old rescue mule belonging to The Donkey Sanctuary. But he wasn't the stubborn one in this story. British Dressage cited their rule book, which says competition is only open to horses and ponies. After the story was published, a public outcry in support of the mule caused the board of directors of British Dressage to hold a meeting Monday, at which they decided to open competition to mules.
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 and McLean will compete in Gloucester on July 21. -via Strange Company
(Image credit: SWNS.com)