A US pop star has bought two Black Forest mares after hearing about the rare German breed from an English agent.

The mares arrived at Elderflower Farm in Maine this month (9 December) having spent three weeks in quarantine.

The horses, aged 14 and 18, were bought by the wife of Jon Fishman, co-founder of the rock and jazz band Phish, as riding ponies for their five children.

Briar Fishman had the horses imported from north Germany.

The dark chestnut mares, both 14.3hh with the breed’s characteristic flaxen manes are the first imported into the US.

Both were trained and worked as therapeutic horses with disabled children.

“It’s a great boost for the breed,” said Elke McKay, who organised the sale and was the first to import Black Forest colts into the UK.

The Fishman family are “absolutely over the moon” with the two mares and are considering breeding with them next spring.

“We were really pleased to find a buyer in the US prepared to get them over. We hope it will increase awareness of the versatility of the breed in the US,” said Mrs McKay.

There are about 1,000 Black Forest horses in Germany, all in one area in the south of the country.

The Marbach stud, the largest and oldest government-owned stud in the country, has helped conserve the breed which was nearly extinct in the 1970s.

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The stud buys foals from local breeders and makes sure they meet the strict stallion and mare licensing regulation for studbook registration. Youngsters from registered parents are branded with a tree.

Mrs McKay, who is the UK agent for the stud, bought the first two Black Forest colts over to her Hampshire home in September, and plans to start showing them next year.