Huge £165,500 total funding grants given to 12 rare breed horse and pony societies to aid their important work

Aimi Clark

Societies of rare horse breeds will receive funding of £165,500 this year from the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB).

The total sum will be divided between 12 rare breeds societies, all of whom feature on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST)’s ‘at risk’ or ‘priority’ categories, as well as the Rare Breeds Heritage Show.

A statement said the grants are awarded in accordance with the Levy Board’s “statutory objective for the improvement of breeds of horses”.

“As well as the significant investment made in the interests of the Thoroughbred, for many decades the Horserace Levy Board has sought to protect and enhance specified British rare breeds via grants to societies to support their pure breeding programmes,” said the statement.

The breed societies receiving the grants are:

  1. Cleveland Bay Horse £21,500
  2. Dales Pony Society  £9,000
  3. Dartmoor Pony Society £9,000
  4. Eriskay Pony Society  £9,000
  5. Exmoor Pony Society  £9,000
  6. Hackney Horse Society £18,000
  7. Suffolk Horse Society £25,000
  8. Clydesdale Horse Society £11,000
  9. Fell Pony Society £7,000
  10. Highland Pony Society £7,000
  11. Shire Horse Society   £30,000
  12. New Forest Pony Society £5,000
  13. Rare Breeds of the Year Show £5,000

The top seven are classed by the RBST as ‘priority’ breeds. Breeds 8-12 are ‘at risk’

The Horserace Levy Board takes advice from the RBST on which native British breeds are most in need of help and its board received a presentation from the Trust in May.

Grants are used to support breed improvement programmes. This can include premium payments to encourage pure breeding of quality bloodlines, genetic analysis, gene banking, DNA testing, registration subsidy, licensing fees, stallion fertility testing, artificial insemination schemes, maintenance of the breed stud book, support for breed shows and show judge training.

Individual societies are required to add 20% from their own resources to fund their programmes.

‘Integral to this country’

“Our native British horse and pony breeds are integral to this country’s landscape and history,” said the Horseracing Levy Board’s grants manager Annie Dodd.

“Alongside its essential support for the breeding of the racing Thoroughbred, we are also committed to helping the most vulnerable native breeds survive and thrive in the modern day.

“Breeds such as the Dales pony or the Suffolk Punch demonstrate the same qualities and aptitude for sport, work and leisure riding as the Thoroughbred and deserve the same high regard.

“They are part of the great British equine scene and the Board wants to help preserve them in the future. “

Christopher Price, chief executive of the RBST, added that since the conservation charity was founded in 1973, no UK-native breed has been lost.

“Our work includes cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, ponies, goats and poultry. We produce the RBST Watchlist, an annual assessment of the conservation status of all our native breeds, taking account of both the numbers and the extent of inbreeding,” he said.

“Our conservation strategy is based on the Watchlist’s findings: firstly wherever possible we promote the use of our native breeds, secondly lobbying for government support where appropriate and thirdly running specific conversation projects where necessary.

“We are enormously grateful for the support the HBLB gives us and the wider native breed sector, which will make a real difference to our work and help ensure a thriving future for our rare native breeds.”

Pictured top is a New Forest pony. Copyright: Shutterstock

Profile image of Aimi Clark Aimi Clark


As the editor of Your Horse Online, Aimi oversees all our digital content. She has worked in equestrian media for over 15 years and joined Your Horse as editor in 2017. Aimi has owned and ridden horses all her life. She grew up on a farm in Devon and was a Tetcott & South Tetcott Pony Club member, joining with her first pony — a New Forest called Prudence — before moving on to a Danish Warmblood called Marcus and competing in all activities, but particularly enjoying eventing. She has rehomed and retrained more than 10 ex-racehorses and dabbled in point-to-pointing. There have been plenty of bumps, setbacks and heartache along the way, as well as a lot of fun and many successes. Aimi has two young children and she still loves ex-racehorses. You can often find her hacking her Thoroughbred in the Oxfordshire countryside, flying the flag for Your Horse's #Hack1000Miles challenge.

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