Stallion AI Services near Whitchurch, Shropshire, is the UK’s largest semen collection and distribution centre, standing a number of top sport and rare breed stallions. Founder and managing director Tullis Matson gives H&H a tour around the centre’s stunning new facilities
Don’t miss our full interview with Tullis Matson in today’s special breeding issue of Horse & Hound magazine (5 April 2018)
Stallion AI’s current facilities opened in April 2017 at Chapel Field Stud, after a £1.5 million investment. Twenty-eight stallions can be housed in the huge, airy barns, with space for a further 10 horses in the older barn. The carefully designed stables are constructed from ‘wood-effect’ plastic for maximum hygiene levels.
Among the centre’s current residents are Olympic showjumpers Jaguar Mail, Arko III (left) and Big Star (centre, with Tullis Matson), who first came to Stallion AI prior to the London Olympics and will stand this year until September. Previous stallions to have stood at the centre include top eventing sire Mill Law, and the international grand prix dressage stallion Demonstrator, who is buried outside.
The Stallion AI team pictured here with Suffolk stallion Craikhow Hall Jenson
The bright, spacious collection area features a fully rubberised floor, as well as secure stables for the ‘teaser’ mares. Here, the Olympic stallion and prolific sire Jaguar Mail is in action.
On arrival at the centre each stallion is allocated his own headcollar, bandages, boots and grooming kit, as well as specific collection coats for his handler and his semen collector.
Among the new facilities at Chapel Field Stud is a 54ft horse walker with rubberised floors and CCTV. “It’s important to ensure the stallions have as normal a life as possible so they all go out each day,” says managing director Tullis Matson.
As the UK’s largest equine frozen semen storage centre, Stallion AI is home to more than 1.4million straws of semen, stored at -196 degrees in nitrogen tanks, all colour coded. The centre has collected semen from over 1200 stallions of 47 different breeds.
The centre is home to Murka’s Gem, a seven-year-old genetic clone of the legendary showjumper Gem Twist.
The stud’s state-of-the-art laboratory allows the stud to stay at the forefront of technology, developing advanced freezing techniques as well as pioneering work in areas such as epididymal sperm extraction — harvesting sperm cells after castration, or if a stallion has had to be put down suddenly.
The yard and paddocks are fitted with extensive CCTV, with a camera in every stable allowing centre staff and stallion owners to keep tabs on their horses 24 hours a day via ‘Stalcam’.