The breeder of a champion broodmare who has been put down aged 20 has paid tribute to her “special horse”.
Future Illicit Affair (Mirage), who was owned and bred by Julia Hodkin of Future Sport Horses, was discovered with colic symptoms on Monday afternoon (17 September).
Julia told H&H: “The vet thinks she may have had a haemorrhage because she went downhill in the space of minutes. She was happy and eating in the morning, then in the afternoon when she was re-checked she was down and clearly in a lot of pain. Something went very wrong, very quickly.
“The vet attended and did all she could but Mirage was showing signs of going in to shock and collapsed. In discussion with the vet we felt she was unlikely to survive the journey to hospital given the speed of her decline and the symptoms she had, and the chances of her successfully recovering from any surgery she had, were limited. I therefore took the hugely emotional decision to stop her suffering any further.”
The 16.3hh mare, who was by The Outlaw out of the thoroughbred mare Classic Fayre (by Brianston Zipper xx), was the first foal bred by Julia, and became the foundation mare for her stud, producing the life graded SHB(GB) stallion Future Illusion as her first foal. She had been bred for a sport career but suffered a serious injury as a weanling.
“She jumped a huge five-bar gate and got stuck halfway, separating her sacrum from her pelvis. It was touch and go for three months on whether she would come sound, but eventually she did,” said Julia. “We had her professionally broken and she was lovely, she had lots of talent, but there was no point in pushing her in a competition career when she was already carrying a weakness.”
Mirage received head studbook grading with the Sport Horse Breeding (GB), winning titles including broodmare diploma at the BEF Futurity, champion sporthorse broodmare at the National Hunter Show in 2005, sport horse broodmare and hunter broodmare champion at the Suffolk County Show 2007 and local hunter broodmare at the East of England county show in 2007.
“We hardly ever took her out showing but when we did she nearly always won. She was a lovely easy mare, but when you took her to a show she liked to show off – when she got in front of a crowd, she knew she was good. Her son Future Illusion inherited her stage presence,” said Julia.
Mirage’s first foal, Future Illusion by stallion Fleetwater Opposition, won many titles including champion foal at the National Hunter show and lightweight hunter foal sport horse foal, going on to an eventing career with Jeannette Brakewell and a dressage career with Kelly Aldous. Future Illusion was retained by Future Sport Horses and the stallion is life-graded with SHB, life-approved AES and licensed with Breeders Elite studbook.
“It took him a long time to mature into the magnificent specimen he became”
The horse, who completed Badminton and Burghley in his former career, finished his career with success at lower-level eventing
‘I’ll miss you and will always hold fond memories of you. I owe you so much. One day we’ll meet
“The achievement I’m most proud of is that The Queen used him three years ago for her Horse of the Year Show mare Stardust, so Mirage has a royal grandson,” said Julia.
In addition to Future Illusion, Mirage bred six other top foals including Royal International Horse Show finalist Future Illicit Opposition, and county show winners Future Illicit Heights and Future Inspiration. She was in foal to Julia’s “very exciting” colt Future Guilty Pleasure when she died.
“Mirage was an amazing mother, she loved her foals,” Julia said. “She was a very kind mare, and just a very special horse. She was no trouble at all, and was a joy to own. It’s really hit us hard losing Mirage and her foal so unexpectedly.”
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