Canada’s Stellar Futurity Winner


Gord Ruzicka, Rose Hill Percherons of Viking, Alberta, came up trumps twice at the year’s end. His Percheron gelding, Trippcrest Fury’s Ajax, purchased as a weanling at Carson’s 2011 Fall Colours Draft Horse Sale (Listowel, Ontario), topped the Wild Rose Draft Horse Futurity and then Carson’s Draft Horse Futurity in October. To date Ruzicka has won over $11,000 with his $4,500 Percheron colt. Trippcrest Fury’s Ajax is eligible for NAERIC’s Draft Horse Classic Futurity at Brandon’s 2014 Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in March. If successful, Ruzicka’s 2-year-old can win a further $9,861.

A Draft Horse Futurity has three divisions – a Line Class, a Pattern Driving Class and a Rail Cart Class. These three divisions equals the field for the horses entered. Hitch horse prospects will likely excel in a Rail Cart Class; draft horses more traitional in type will likely excel Pattern Driving. Whatever their type, it takes a sound 2-year-old Belgian, Clydesdale, Percheron or Shire that is structurally correct, to win the Line Class.

Trippcrest Fury’s Ajax was bred by Jane Gray, Trippcrest Farm of Harrison, Maine. A son of Eyebright’s Fury, an Alberta-bred sire; Pleasant View King, the World Champion Stallion at Calgary’s 1998 World Percheron Congress, sired Pennwoods Andromeda, his dam. Big, handsome and high headed, Ajax is fired with nervous energy. However, few 2-year-olds, whatever the equine breed, are schooled as he is. Ajax captured the eye of knowledgeable horsemen in Alberta and again in Ontario the instant he came before the judges in each of the three futurity classes.

One of 17 entries shown on halter in Ontario, Ajax topped the class which he also did shown in Alberta.

Driven in the Rail Cart Class, Ruzicka kept a tight line on his colt. Shown at a measured trot in this class, Ruzicka surprised fellow horsemen, who were expecting a whirlwind drive. However, Ruzicka knew his colt. If given his head, was sure to break. Ruzicka knew it would be curtains if Ajax broke into a gallop before the judges.

Big and fired as Trippcrest Fury’s Ajax is, he scored Pattern Driving. He entered each province’s arena at a walk. After circling the ring at a trot, he cut a figure eight around the two pylons spaced centre-ring. Not once did he break stride. He ended the figure eight stopping between the two spaced pylons, where he faced the gallery. Given seconds to settle, Ruzicka then fanned his colt 90 degrees left, paused; the fanned his colt 180 degrees to the right, paused; then fanned his colt 90 degrees to the left. He stopped standing where he had started. Giving his 2-year-old a few seconds to settle, Ruzicka got out of the cart, dropped both lines and walked to Agax’s head. He lifted the colt’s left front foot, dropped it; walked around the front of his colt, lifted the colt’s right front foot, then dropped it. Returning to the cart at a walk, Ruzicka gathered his lines, then got in. Never moving a muscle, the 2-year-old Percheron continued to stand like a soldier at attention on a parade square. Ruzicka then walked his colt to the measured keyhole outlined with white lime. Entering the keyhole, whose entrance was but inches wider than cart’s two wheels, Ruzicka carefully turned his colt and cart in the keyhole. Given the 2-year-old’s size, this was a tricky. Once turned, colt, cart and driver left the  keyhole through the narrow entrance. Not once did Ruzicka’s colt or his cart’s wheels touch the keyhole’s white outline. Leaving the keyhole, Ruzicka walked Ajax to the last obstacle in the arena – two parallel eight foot rails suspended on pylons. The space between the two rails was but inches wider than the cart’s two wheels. The 2-year-old was driven through the two suspended rails. When the cart’s wheels were through, Ajax was stopped. Following a short pause, to let the colt settle, Ajax backed the cart with Ruzicka through the suspended rails. Not once did the colt or the cart’s wheels touch the rails suspended on the pylons. Had this happpened, one or both rails would have fallen. In both Alberta and in Ontario, awed horsemen ringside gave Ruzicka and his 2-year-old Percheron colt a rousing applause as they left the show-ring. Everyone agree, this was a stellar exhibition for a 2-year-old horse whatever the breed.

Given success at Brandon, Ruzicka stands to lift over $20,000 prizemoney with Ajax. While Ajax was at a disadvantage, given his size and desire, he is a valuable hitch horse prospect. He is certain to command substantial a five figure price when a 3-year-old for this young Percheron is schooled like few  horses seen today.

The Belgians, Clydesdales, Percherons and Shires contesting each of Canada’s Draft Horse Futurities are broke. These horses are foolproof employed on the street, working on a farm or ranch, or logging in the forest. Hitch horse prospects patterned like Ajax will be star performers in a competitive or professional hitch, be it in a show-ring or in a parade on a crowded street.

Krebsie's Krosby, a 2-year-old Belgian gelding seen at the 2013 Wild Rose Draft Horse Futurity, backing the cart and owner, Darwin Krebs, Krebsies Belgians of Didsbury, Alberta, between two suspended rails in the Pattern Driving Class. (Kristen Wilkieson photo)