Futurity showcases equine gentle giants

Wild Rose Draft Horse Futurity spent the weekend at the Calnash Ag Event Centre showing some of the largest horse breeds

Wild Rose Draft Horse Futurity spent the weekend at the Calnash Ag Event Centre showing some of the largest horse breeds of the equine world.

The foal show and futurity showcased many two-year olds but included a yearling halter class.

“When babies are born they need to be nominated for the program,” said Julie Roy, chair of the futurity. “They can come back as a yearling and then as a two-year old.”

Programs like the foal show and futurity is both a training program to break young horses as well as a competition for prize money.

For the two-year olds, there is one overall winner out of the three classes.

Two-year olds compete in rail, driving and halter classes. Halter classes are based on conformation of the horses; joints, lameness, body type for each sex. “We want the females to look prettier,” said Roy with a laugh.

Horses also have their manes and tails rolled and tied with ribbons to be presented to the judges. Roy said judges also look for each breed’s specific trait, such as the Clydesdales feathers around their feet.

Breeds at the show were the Clydesdale, Shire, Belgian and Percheron, said Roy.

Shows like the horse show and futurity began when the North American Equine Ranching Council started giving money to pregnant mare urine (PMU) programs.

PMU programs use mare urine to make Premarin, an estrogen pill. Each program foals around 200 babies per year, said Roy. The shows were a way for PMUs to show they had good horses that could produce desirable offspring.

Roy said the shows were a different outlet for the foals, as opposed another outlet, such as a meat market.

“The horses coming out of here are so broke and well managed.”

While there are still shows, Roy said there are no longer PMU programs in Alberta due to complaints made about the program, lack of consumer demand and the drug’s company cutbacks. “It ended up affecting the industry so they didn’t need so much product anymore.”

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