What is the British Breeding/BEF Futurity and who is it for?
The BEF Futurity evaluation series has the largest number of participants of any young horse evaluation programme in the UK, and is now firmly established – celebrating its tenth year in 2015. The Futurity aims to identify British bred young potential sport horses and ponies destined for careers in dressage, eventing, showjumping or endurance. British bred horses and ponies from foals to three year olds are eligible to take part.
The Futurity Evaluations which take place throughout August provide a valuable assessment of youngsters for their chosen discipline by both experienced evaluators and a Futurity vet. Not only are these experts on hand to assess the horse they see in front of them, they also provide helpful advice and feedback.
The Futurity Evaluations are held over three weeks across the UK and each young horse is awarded a Futurity premium ranging from elite right through to third, each premium indicating the level of performance which that horse can be expected to attain. An attractive certificate to keep and frame follows on after the event. Photographers are present at all venues to record horses’ evaluations and the results are published on the fully searchable British Breeding website.
How can I take part?
All British bred young horses which have been sired by a graded stallion are eligible for the Futurity and online entries opened on the 1st July at www.britishbreeding.org. To make sure that you keep up to speed on news as it happens, follow www.facebook.com/BEFfuturity.
How to prepare for the BEF Futurity
The first part of the Futurity evaluation is the vet assessment, the vet will expect to see the youngster standing up, and in walk and trot. It is advisable to practise this in advance of the Futurity. Once the vet has assessed the youngster, it’s on to the main evaluation which takes place in an indoor school. Again, the youngster will be expected to stand up before the evaluators and then walk and trot around a triangle approximately 25m x 25m x 25m. Subsequently, they will be seen loose so the evaluators can see the canter and athleticism in all paces. Three year olds that are being assessed for Showjumping and Eventing will be expected to jump loose down a lane. Again, horses should have prepared for this before the evaluation so they can show themselves off to the best of their ability. Once the evaluators have fully considered the young horse, they will explain their reasoning for the premium given and participants will receive their score sheet by email the same day.
Ideally, horses should be plaited, mainly so that the evaluators can see the shape of the neck and withers. Horses are not allowed to wear any boots, bandages, hoof oil or any other dressing on their legs (apart from in the jumping phase). A hard hat is strongly recommended for both vetting and evaluation phases. Handlers should wear white or cream trousers and white tops, along with suitable footwear for trotting horses up. Broodmares should be shown in snaffle bridle and lead rein or reins and foals in a leather foal slip/headcollar and lead rein with a clip that is easy and quick to undo. Yearlings and two year-olds are presented in an in hand bridle and lead rein. Two year-old colts and all three year-olds wear a snaffle bridle. All horses must wear a bridle number with their competitor number on it.
Nikki Goldup attended the Writtle College Futurity in August 2014 with her homebred yearling, potential eventer, Wilma.
Nikki said, “When we arrived at Writtle, we unloaded and took Wilma for a little stroll so she could settle and take in her surroundings. We were parked in a nice safe and secure car park surrounded by assorted barns and lecture rooms. Wilma coped so well and we finished getting her ready and donned our all white outfits which are advised by the BEF so that you can ‘show off’ your horse and not detract from them. Not exactly flattering and we were paranoid about getting grubby!
Futurity is split into several stages. Firstly, two representatives from Baileys Horse Feeds do a top line and condition scoring and discuss feeding requirements. Notes from the conversation are supplied after the assessment. Next, up you walk, and then trot your horse up on level ground for a vet’s inspection. The vet also inspects your horse for conformation, health and condition. The vet not only gave Wilma a glowing report regarding her condition, but told me to congratulate my farrier on the condition of her feet.
After a short break we moved onto the indoor arena for the full evaluation. This was in front of a panel of four judges including the revered Jennie Loriston Clarke. To start, I had to walk Wilma in a triangle, around large plant pots to mark our route. I then had to trot her in hand for some time, making sure she was moving forward and was as relaxed as possible. This was quite hard as she was quite sharp and didn’t always move as forwards as she needed to. However, the panel gave us plenty of time and gave me some guidance as to how to show her to her best. It was quite hard running on an arena surface for quite a while and I was glad I wore trainers (as recommended in the BEF guidance notes).
Lastly we had to loose school Wilma, with both myself and my helper Jess ‘shooing’ Wilma round the arena in trot, then in canter and gallop (important for an eventer). This was harder than it sounds and we both looked rather hot afterwards. Finally Wilma was caught (you can take some treats for this) and I was asked to walk the triangle again while the panel discussed Wilma’s final mark or Futurity premium as a potential event horse. The premium takes into consideration both the vet mark and the evaluation mark. I was thrilled when they announced that Wilma had scored 8.15 which is a first premium. We left the arena and Wilma loved the fuss and treats that followed. It was such a rewarding mark and looking back at the photos I am really pleased with the horse that I ‘produced’ on the day. The experience was really worth the time and expense for both of us. I think it gave Wilma a really great test to see how far she was in her basic training. I gained confidence in handling her but also have a very clear picture of things I’d like to do before I send her to Futurity as a two year old”.
Futurity factsheets which contain all the information you need to take part along with a short video explaining how to prepare for the Futurity are available at www.britishbreeding.org.