Futurity weekend came around so quickly for the team at PFB, and it was definitely as busy as we were expecting! We were lucky enough to have Alex Van Tuyll eventing super groom helping us all weekend, we most definitely couldn’t have done it without her! She is super efficient and excellent with the youngsters and made them all look beautiful for their gradings.
Preparations started on the Saturday, where we brought in the first mare & foal for loading practice,
bathing, plaiting and trimming. The first ones – Ethel and Parkfield Little Phoenix (Phoenie) were extremely well behaved, walked straight onto the trailer and were plaited and looking fabulous in no time! Onto the next pair, Lizzie and Parkfield Folies Bergere (Folie) who were also very well behaved. We were ahead of schedule and getting a little big for our boots at this point, thinking how easy this was all going to be (haha!). Cue first set-back of the day – Phoenie lying flat out in the stable, covered head to toe in shavings. We all know Phoenie loves to sleep so we should’ve known better than to wash and plait her and put her in a stable and leave her for a while with a lovely warm, cosy bed to sleep in! So there we were starting pretty much all over again with Phoenie!
In the meantime, Parkfield Distinctive (Dizzy) our homebred 2 year old was brought in from the field and given a bath and plaited by Alex, and she was impeccably behaved. She also had loading practice into the lorry, when she has only before travelled in a trailer, and she walked straight on. We just love this horse, she has such a great attitude and personality.
Now for the biggest challenge of the day – Parkfield Vicarage Vee (Victor). Victor has a huge character and ego, much like his mum! He just loves himself and finds everything in life hilarious. He has worked out how much fun can be had when you do the opposite of what you are being asked to do! He is also a very strong, compact foal which definitely didn’t help our case when trying to get him into the trailer! We had 6 people all trying to get this little, innocent foal to go into the trailer, for around 3 hours. He ran circles round us all and really tried our patience! We tried everything, and in the end resorted to putting the car and trailer in the school, putting Victor as close to the ramp as we could, and then building a fence all the way around him using jumps. This, followed by lifting each leg, one at a time, we finally managed to get him into the trailer (where he stood good as gold I might add – little devil). We did this another 4 or 5 times, each as slow as the time before, until we were all happy that we thought we could get him to go in the following morning – although I would say none of us would have bet on it at this point! Given the time it took to load Victor, it was now getting close to the evening, and we still had to wash and plait them, and finish the yard off for the night. Safe to say we all enjoyed an alcoholic beverage before bed that night!
The Big Day
We were all up early to get ready to go to Hartpury with all 3 mares and foals and 2 year old Dizzy (and 4 year old Gladys for company). They were all relatively clean and amazingly nearly all plaits intact, much to Alex’s relief! After a little tidying (a lot in Phoenie’s case, who had decided it was bed time in the 5 minutes she was in the stable for!) we were ready to start loading. Much to our amazement (and relief!) they all loaded fairly easily, even Victor! And we were on our way in convoy – 3 trailers and 1 lorry.
We made it in good time and the journey went smoothly for all, but no rest for the wicked, we were straight on to getting the first pair ready to go. First up was Lizzie and Folie. After a little sprucing we made our way to the vet check area where we had to stand for the vet to have a good look at the foal, and then walk and trot up for them to see the foal moving. We then made our way to the indoor arena where we had to walk and trot around a triangle in the middle of the arena for the assessors to see the foal moving, and then we have to hold onto the foal at one end, and trot the mare away, and then let go of the foal so that the assessors can hopefully see some gallop from the foal. This is where it can get interesting for the foal handler – both trying to keep hold of the foal when it wants to be with its mum, and trying to catch the foal once it has been galloping around loose! Luckily all of our foals were excellent and let us catch them with no problems. Once the assessors have seen enough, they give the foal scores based on confirmation, movement, type and suitability for the category they were entered in (we entered Phoenie and Victor in the showjumping section, and Folie in the eventing section), and you are given your overall score and prize.
2 year old Dizzy also had to be assessed by the vet, and then she had to be shown to the assessors in the indoor arena, most of which was done loose so that they could see her paces. She was also very well behaved.
We are incredibly proud of all our foals and mares, and young Dizzy (even Gladys for being Dizzy’s nanny
for the day, standing on the lorry on her own whilst Dizzy was being graded). They all received very good scores – Victor scored 8.9, which is higher first premium, just 0.1 from being elite! He was the highest scoring foal in the showjumping category – for this we can forgive his antics! Phoenie scored 8.8, 2nd in the showjumping category, and Folie scored 8.75. All 3 foals were in the top 10 of all the foals in all categories for the whole day – we are incredibly thrilled! And we received great comments from the vet inspection too as to how well handled and behaved they all were and what good conformation they all have. Feedback like this makes it all worth it! Dizzy scored 8.5 which is also a great score.
After a manic, non-stop day we were on our way home, all feeling like we had run a marathon, but very pleased with our horses. I was most definitely pleased to see my bed that night! We are all looking forward to next year where we will also have to teach our 3 year olds to loose jump! What could possibly go wrong!