‘We need a massive increase in pure breeding’: Cleveland Bays in danger of extinction

  • Cleveland Bays are the second most at-risk animal in the UK.

    The figures were revealed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) in its 2018 “danger list”, which was released on 17 April.

    There are 64 breeding females left in the UK, meaning it is the most endangered native equine breed.

    Suffolk horses are also in the top five on the danger list, with 80 breeding females — a slight increase on the 75 registered in 2017.

    “We have a saying with rare breeds ‘use to save it’’, but with the Cleveland Bay we are using them a lot, to put style, power and bone into the general horse population,” explained RBST field officer Richard Broad.

    “However we are not breeding enough pure-bred animals, so future generations are not guaranteed they will be able to. In order to preserve the breed, we need a massive increase in pure breeding of Cleveland Bays before they are lost.”

    Extensive work is being done to protect the UK’s native equine breeds.

    The Cleveland Bay Horse Society promotes a breed advisory scheme (Sparks), created and developed by Dr Andy Dell, supporting the genetic health of the global Cleveland Bay population.

    The RBST launched its national gene bank project in October, keeping genetics from rare breeds to safeguard them from extinction.

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    “These rare breed animals are going to end up as dead as a dodo unless their numbers increase dramatically,” said RBST chief executive Tom Beeston.

    “With the publication of the ‘danger watchlist’, we are calling on government bodies and consumers to support our work.

    “We need more than £10m in the next decade to pay for our gene bank, where genetic material is stored so that we can recreate a breed.

    “These animals are beautiful to look at, uniquely British and deserve to be protected for future generations.”

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

    This week’s magazine (26 April), features a full Badminton preview, including a cross-country course walk with Mary King and full form guide for every horse and rider.

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