Porter and Audrey Goldsmith competing this summer. photo by Diane Fields
Porter and Audrey Goldsmith competing this summer. photo by Diane Fields

Porter the mule has his own Facebook page. And every post garners several hundred likes.

The most recent has to do with the latest accomplishment achieved with his Sisters owner, Audrey Goldsmith. Porter, aka Heart B Lonesome Porter, became the first mule in United States Dressage Federation history to carry his rider to a Silver Rider Medal. (He previously took Goldsmith to her Bronze Medal, also a first.) The medals are recognition of achievement as a rider advances through the various levels of dressage.

Not bad for an animal started in serious dressage training because he tripped all the time. The slow and steady journey to the upper levels of dressage has strengthened Porter, says Goldsmith, and as long as he's willing and happy to participate, she'll keep him in the discipline.

That's one of the things about mules - if they're not happy about something they'll make it pretty darn clear. Other options for him are Cowboy Dressage and Combined Driving, both disciplines that welcome mules.

"Porter writes his own story," said Goldsmith.

He's been writing that story since his initial trot into a dressage court, and it's generated some spirited discussion in the rarified world of dressage. There are some who think mules should stay in the backcountry. However, Porter has paved the way for others; last year a full sister of his competed at the National Dressage Finals in Kentucky, another first.

At age 12, Porter is in his prime and at present is enjoying a break from his regular training. He's going on trail rides and is being used as a schoolmaster for one of Goldsmith's students. Next season Goldsmith plans to show him at the same level as this year, Prix St. George.

Unless, of course, he has other ideas.