New showing classes for horse and pony breeds listed on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) Watchlist will take place at this year’s Norfolk Equestrian Show on Wednesday, 28 July.

The rare breeds will compete for the inaugural RBST Priority breed and RBST At Risk Breed champion titles.

There are 14 breeds native to the UK and 12 of them are considered rare and therefore eligible to compete in the new classes: Dales, Eriskay, Cleveland Bay, Hackney, Suffolk, Exmoor and Dartmoor (Priority) and Clydesdale, Fell, Shire, Highland and New Forest pony (At Risk).

The ‘Priority’ and ‘At Risk’ status is determined by RBST’s analysis of a range of factors including population numbers and genetic diversity.

“With equine shows and competitions so severely limited over the past 18 months, we are delighted to be able to provide this fantastic opportunity to celebrate our rare breeds as well as the people, organisations and communities which support their survival,” said RBST chairman Gail Sprake.

“Each of our native pony and horse breeds has its own characteristics, unique features and history and each has played an extraordinary role in our nation’s history.

“The new RBST Priority and At Risk classes at the Norfolk Equestrian Show will really show why they are special.”

The rare breed classes will close the show, which is hosted by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) in association with RBST and will run behind closed doors this year. It takes place at Norfolk Showground and replaces Royal Norfolk Show due to the Covid pandemic. Organisers hope the full show will return in 2022.

“After months of containment we are thrilled to be welcoming competitors to Norfolk Showground for the Norfolk Equestrian Show,” said RNAA chief executive Mark Nicholas. “We are particularly pleased to be working in partnership with RBST and helping them to promote the importance of breed diversity and survival”.

Other classes include Horse of the Year Show qualifiers, in-hand and ridden, as well as heavy horses, driving and a double harness scurry competition. Entries are open now and close on Wednesday, 30 June.

View the full schedule.

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