A leading figure in the sport horse breeding world has died following a short illness.

Richard Matson was the senior partner at the pioneering Twemlows Stud in Shropshire, which this year was at the centre of the return of specialist test-tube technology to the UK.

A well-known and respected member of the equestrian community, Mr Matson was involved in the running of a number of major equine bodies.

He was a panel judge for the Sport Horse Breeding Society of Great Britain, a council member of the British Horse Foundation and until recently, was vice-chairman of the National Equine Forum (NEF).

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In March this year, he was among eight others to become the first honorary fellows of the NEF.

As well as his involvement in the equestrian world, Mr Matson was also a vice-president of the Royal Agricultural Society of England and honorary treasurer for many years.

In recent years, he became chairman of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust — a charity that was was always close to his heart.

Mr Matson hunted all his life and was a former master of the Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn’s.

He enjoyed breeding his own hunters and seeing them cross the country.

Michael Clayton, former editor of Horse & Hound, paid tribute to him.

“Richard inherited his parents’ talents in selecting and producing some of the best hunters you would find anywhere,” he said.

“He was devoted to improving the quality of British riding horses and made a great contribution to this cause.

“He was one of the keenest hunting men, thoroughly appreciating the scope offered by the wonderful Wynnstay country.

“I was indeed fortunate to be so well mounted by the Matson family on my visits made in the course of my visits as a hunting correspondent writing Foxford’s Hunting Diary.”

Originally a traditional livestock farmer, Mr Matson diversified away from farming and into equine in 1990.

He kept a close interest in farming through his connections with Harper Adams University College, of which he was chairman of governors from 1994-1999.

He was also awarded fellowship of the Royal Agricultural Societies.

Mr Matson died on 11 December.