In the last few months, the refined institution that is British Dressage has been struck by a sequence of events that would be more familiar in a Hollywood movie script. An unlikely hero has been born, struck by adversity and controversy, only to have risen from the ashes and stolen the hearts of our equestrian nation. Who is this hero you may ask, and who could possibly be cast be play him? I’m sure that DiCaprio, Stallone and Brad Pitt are all anxiously waiting for their agent’s call, however I must put them out of their misery, as this ‘action hero’ is not a muscle-bound heart throb that could be seen battling through the jungles of some fictitious landscape, he is none other than our own Wallace the mule!
Wallace’s turbulent rise to fame began some years ago in Ireland, where he had been earning a not so stellar reputation for himself by eating flowers from the gardens of the local parish. Things weren’t looking good for Wallace, however luckily the stars aligned and he was granted a life line in the form of the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary in Devon. Shortly after, with the consent of his new guardian Lesley Radcliffe, British dressage rider Christie Mclean developed an interest in Wallace and began training him in dressage. What happened next turned any competitive horse rider’s nightmare (all of Christie’s horses went lame!) into a fairy-tale story that would touch the hearts of riders across the globe.
Mclean decided to enter Wallace in an entry-level British Dressage competition, as he’d shown great promise in his training and had even achieved success in competitions on the local dressage scene. This however was against the rules British Dressage, as at this time only ponies and horses were permitted to compete, so sadly, Wallace was sent back to the sanctuary, empty hooved.
Mclean, not to be deterred, drummed up the support of the British Equestrian community on social media and in no time at all, a global phenomenon had erupted, with horse lovers the world across demanding that Wallace be allowed to ride! British Dressage showed great reason and understanding and revised their rules, now allowing any creature than is born of a mare to compete. Wallace clearly recognised the great pressure that had been placed on his withers and he stepped up in enigmatic fashion, not only competing, but winning his event!
What’s next in store for Wallace is still unsure, however what we do know is that he, his rescuer and his rider have all performed a great and honourable service for all of mule-kind and he has rightfully taken his place in the equestrian history books.