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Danger for UK’s “critically” rare breed

With less than 300 pure-bred Cleveland Bays mares left in the UK, the Cleveland Bay Horse Society is holding a conference to investigate the breed’s failure to increase its numbers

The Cleveland Bay Horse Society is holding its third bi-annual breed conference at York Museum in York on Saturday 12 October, starting at 10am.

The day will be used to help investigate why the number of pure-bred Cleveland Bays has failed to increase substantially over the last 15 years.

Numbers of pure-bred Cleveland Bays have remained more or less static and it is currently listed as a category 1 with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST). This “critical” status means there are less than 300 registered pure-bred breeding Cleveland Bay mares left in the UK.

The Cleveland Bay can trace its routes back to the early 1700’s when it was used by travelling salesman to carry their wares. The breed suffered a decline in popularity with the introduction of the motorcar and agricultural mechanisation and has struggled ever since.

Colin Green, who is on the council of Cleveland Bay Horse Society, explains some of the problems currently facingthe breed: “It’s difficult to obtain sponsorship for a minority breed and it’s hard to encourage breeders to increase the numbers they breed,” he says.

“While the part-bred is in great demand, for some reason the pure-bred isnot viewed by the equestrian public as a suitable performance horse.”

Speakers at the conference will include Saffron Townsend from the RBST, who will be making a presentation on the trust’s reGENEration appeal, along with specialists in semen conservation.

Lynn Godsall, appeals manager for the RBST, says: “The reGENEration appeal will enable us to safeguard the future of Cleveland Bays by collecting and storing semen from selected stallions.”

Other topics under discussion will include gearing breeding towards performance.

Tickets cost £20 and are available on the door, anyone wishing to attend should email Colin Green in advance.

For more information on the Cleveland Bay visit: www.clevelandbay.com

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