The aim of the project is to significantly improve RBST’s ability to support both breed societies and individual breeders in the conservation status of our native equine breeds through a three-year, two-part programme.
There are two broad parts to the project.
The first part is concerned with identifying overarching and breed specific issues and conducting an analysis of differing approaches to breeding and reproductive technologies..
The second part focuses on the uses of the breeds and the opportunities for extending those uses, so raising the profile of the breeds and increasing their numbers.
Data Collection

To be in the best position to conserve and promote  native equines is to learn as much about the breeds, their uses and needs and the people that keep them.

Population reports   

-  Collecting data on effective population, breeding population demographic, inbreeding and numbers

Reproduction survey

-  Gathering information from breeders on their breeding experiences such as fertility, foaling problems and more

Gene Banking

Access to AI (Artificial Insemination) can help remove one of the barriers to breeding. One resource for this is the RBST Gene Bank.

Gene Bank has multiple uses with the following objectives:

  •           Recreating breeds or breeding lines if they become lost. Storage for this purpose is long term and does not involve regular use or updating of the collection.
  •         Support in vivo conservation. The genetic materials can be used to minimize inbreeding and genetic drift in small populations. The combined use of live animals and preserved germplasm can be a very effective conservation tool.
  •         Material stored in a gene bank can provide a very effective backup if genetic problems occur. A decrease in effective population size and the resulting high level of inbreeding can increase the frequency of specific deleterious variant genes.  this can be the case in even large populations if the gene pool is very small.
  •         The development of new lines or breeds, or the modifying or reorienting of a population.
  •         A resource for scientists carrying out DNA research. Gene banking allows quick and easy access to genetic materials.

Semen Analysis

One of the main concerns with frozen semen is that the semen quality may deteriorate over time.


Therefore, the stallions identified for initial testing were those collected from 1993-2009. In total 62 samples from 37 stallions from 10 native breeds.

The breeds represented were: 
- Cleveland Bay
- Hackney Horse & Pony 
- Clydesdale Horse
- Highland Pony 
- Shire Horse
- Dales Pony
- Dartmoor Pony
- Welsh Pony Section B
- Eriskay Pony 


The Testing Process:

Thaw Semen and assess the quality
Take 2 random straws for each stallion
Group the straws together and then run concentration, viability, take a bacterial swab and incubate it for 48 hours
Look at 3 drops under the microscope and assess it for progressive motility and velocity
Run it though the CASA (computer assisted sperm analysis) for motility.

Samples given a pass, borderline, fail rating

·Motility: For a good sample it is expected will be above 35%
·Velocity: a minimum score of 3 (0= dead -5= very active)
·Viability: A minimum of 45%

Access to AI (Artificial Insemination) can help remove one of the barriers to breeding. One resource for this is the RBST Gene Bank.


Of the 62 samples tested only 20 passed and a total of 11 were recorded as a failure.

The 11 failed samples represented eight stallions from 4 breeds.

The breakdown can be seen below, 32.3 % of semen tested passed.

Versatility Survey Results

Have you experienced prejudice or been discouraged from doing something because you own a native?
      63% YES
      37% NO

Promoting Versatility

        Breed Societies

        Overarching organisations


        Social Media

        Shout about successes even if they’re small!

Webinar speakers included...

Bruce Langley-Mckim (Thorpley Stud)

        Rare Breed enthusiast and stud manager from Thorpeley Irish Draught and Rare Breed Stud . All round horseman who now specialises in breeding