This story started with our marvellous mule carer Lesley, who has rehomed four of our mules in Gloucestershire, who sadly lost her beloved mule Billy to cancer in 2014. My fellow Donkey Welfare Adviser Sophie was heartbroken about Billy and applied her considerable mule knowledge to finding Lesley a replacement, which was no mean task as Lesley was devoted to Billy and is also an active and successful Agility competitor. Undeterred, Sophie selected the large and powerful mule Wallace, who she felt would flourish in an enriching home. Lesley, her husband Steve and I quickly came down to see him. They were obviously immediately attracted to each other, and after some time playing with him in the school over little jumps and practise agility obstacles, the deal was done.
Wallace is a mule of great intelligence and Lesley decided to channel this into riding. Due to a serious horse riding accident Lesley is not encouraged to ride, so two friends Harriet and Vince, both experienced riders, took up the challenge. Wallace had clearly found his forte, and made great progress at Lesley’s yard, although she felt she could get so much more out of him with better schooling facilities.
In the meantime, Harriet started work with a three day event rider based near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, whose sponsors co-incidentally have rehomed two of our donkeys, Meg and Tash. Harriet acted as the go-between and the owners of the wonderful establishment kindly agreed to allow Wallace to be schooled in their all-weather arena. As expected, Wallace came on strides.
The donkeys Meg and Tasha had started to put on too much weight, a common problem with donkeys in the spring, so yard manager Chris and their devoted groom Sally thought up the brilliant idea of putting them on the horse walker, building up to half an hour a day to give them the exercise essential to weight loss. Meg and Tash clearly love this and walk briskly round with ears pricked.
I decided this was too good an opportunity to miss, so after fabulous co-operation from the two Guardian homes, the stage was set. Lesley and her friend Jane who helps with the mules, brought Wallace and Milo over to Meg and Tash’s home in their lorry, complete with agility equipment, and both mules gave us a brilliant display of riding and agility, ably assisted by Lesley and Harriet. Not to be left out, the donkeys gave an excellent performance and had their routine visit from me photographed, showing how Donkey Welfare Advisers check all their charges several times a year. Having been such an important part of the story, happily Sophie was able to come up as well.
I am lucky to have these two interactive, enriching homes who are now working together, Chris and Sally are determined that Meg and Tash will start agility to help with their waistline! Well done and thanks to all concerned for a fabulous day.