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Calmy-Rey urges dialogue over National Stud

Switzerland’s sole indigenous horse, Franches-Montagnes, whose continued breeding is under threat, was the star of the national horse fair, Marché-Concours, on Sunday.

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey spoke to the nearly 60,000 people attending the festival in the western town of Saignelégier about the government’s plans to cut funding for the national breeding centre, the National Stud in Avenches.

Calmy-Rey called on breeders to present solutions to save the centre, considered vital if the Franches-Montagnes horse is to survive. “We will listen to them and analyse them.”

The decision to cut funding for the breeding centre was harshly criticised in cantons in western Switzerland. Supporters of the National Stud have submitted a petition to parliament signed by 62,000 people.

“I understand that emotions are running high,” Calmy-Rey said. “No economic measure is popular, less so if it affects our heritage, and the National Stud is undeniably part of that,” she said to applause.

The Franches-Montagnes is considered a workhorse bred initially for hauling wood, ploughing fields, and in winter helping clear roads of snow.

It was first presented at the Marché-Concours in 1897. and agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR