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Rare Breed Stallions

Stallion AI Services Working with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust Since 2002

The 2013 Stallion AI Services team with Countryfile presenter Adam Henson and the Managing Director of the Rare Breed Survival Trust Robert Havard

The Marsh Christian Award for Conservation in Genetic Bio-Diversity

Tullis receiving the Marsh Christian Award for Genetic Biodiversity in 2011

This Award, run in association with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, recognises individuals or a group that have made significant technical, scientific and practical contributions to the field of genetic bio-diversity.

In 2011 an extra category was introduce to recognise those people who had made a committed long term contribution in the field of Genetic Biodiversity and the Rare Breed Survival Trust.

The 2011 winners Tullis

Tullis Matson won the Scientific and Practical Award for the technological advances he has brought to the field of equine semen collection and freezing in the UK and his work to further the knowledge of these processes. His work has researched and broadened the range of extenders now being used in equine semen freezing, which has enabled some breeds such as the Hackney to be collected and successfully frozen for the first time. Semen from certain breeds and indeed individual stallions was often previously found to not survive well some traditional extenders. Tullis has been testing with extenders which include bovine serum and using more rigorous semen assessment methods to get the best possible freezing results. He now guest lectures at a number of institutions and runs training courses in AI to pass on such techniques and knowledge others. It is thanks to this work by Tullis and his staff that we have some breeds and certain bloodlines in the RBST gene bank – which have been difficult to collect from in the past. In addition he has helped raise the profile and confidence in the use of frozen stallion AI, which was not so well thought of only a decade ago.

The RBST ReGENEration Project

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) is asking owners of Britain’s rare native pony and horse breeds to help secure their future by putting stallions forward for its semen bank.

There are currently 12 breeds on the RBST’s watchlist of endangered horses and ponies. In the critical category are the Cleveland Bay, Eriskay pony and Suffolk horse — which each has less than 300 registered breeding mares. Breeds at risk include the Shire horse, Highland pony and Fell pony.

The RBST aims to collect and freeze semen from 25 stallions from each of the breeds listed as part of their ReGENEration appeal, to ensure that, should a crisis occur in the populations, there will be adequate semen supplies, to prevent any breeds becoming extinct.

All stallions must be registered and have an accurate, minimum three-generation pedigree, to ensure the semen bank holds the broadest genetic diversity in the current population.

Of the semen collected 55 per cent goes into a national archive, 30 per cent will be used for conservation breeding programmes and 15 per cent will belong to the stallion’s owner. Collection costs will be covered and the semen will be stored by the RBST.

The ReGENEration appeal was originally set up in 2001 as a direct response to the foot and mouth outbreak as the effects highlighted the need for reserves of genetic material for all species and breeds listed.

The semen bank is one project funded by the appeal — the second was the development of the National Rare Breeds Library at Stoneleigh which opened in 2003 and houses studbooks.

The RBST Watchlist


The RBST Watchlist is produced annually; it is the single most important document they publish. It is significant as it highlights any changes in breed population trends and so plots the success of one of the Trust’s key charitable objectives.



The watchlist is divided into 5 categories:




At Risk


The breeds are placed into appropriate categories based on species and the total number of registered breeding females in the United Kingdom. However there are other factors that affect a breed’s position on the watchlist such as geographical concentration. There are more breeds native to the UK that are not classed as rare; these breeds are listed in Category 6 other native breeds. So far 16 breeds now in category 6 were previously in categories 1-5 and have successfully progressed into category 6. This clearly illustrates the successful work being carried out by dedicated breeders, breed societies and Rare Breed Survival Trust.

Any breed wishing to be accepted onto the Watchlist should submit a minimum of 25 years (preceding application) of continuous verifiable pedigree data in the form of annual registrations. If electronic records exist, these should be supplied in full. Any supplementary information will be discussed with the Breed Society before use. In addition, all breed analyses will be released only to the Breed Society in the first instance – all subsequent releases must come with Breed Society approval. A breed whose numbers of registered breeding females are estimated by the Trust to be below the Category 6, “Other Native Breeds”, threshold will be accepted into the appropriate Watchlist category.

A numerical guide to the 2012 Equine Watchlist categories

Category Horses
1. Critical Less than 300
2. Endangered 300-500
3. Vulnerable 500-900
4. At Risk 900-1500
5. Minority 1500-3000
6. Other native breeds Greater than 3000