Select Breeders Services was formerly incorporated in 1987 as a company dedicated to the responsible development of the equine frozen semen industry. However, the birth of the idea goes back to 1981 when SBS CEO and founder, Paul Loomis was a graduate student at Colorado State University conducting experiments aimed at developing methods to successfully freeze stallion semen. Paul’s mentors at CSU included Drs. Rupert Amann, Ed Squires, Bill Pickett, Jim Voss and Bob Scheidler. He has drawn on the advice and guidance of these men during the development of SBS over the years and will always be grateful for their direction and support. With a growing realization of the benefits of frozen semen and early successes in the laboratory, Paul believed then as he does now that frozen semen would one day be the method of choice for breeding quality horses.
After graduate school Paul was hired as General Manager and Breeding Director at Green Hills Farm in South Carolina. Over the next 5 years at Green Hills, Paul was responsible for developing what was then the largest frozen semen breeding program in the United States. A system for importation of frozen semen from Europe was established and collaboration with the Hannoverian State Stud Celle in Germany led to the birth of the first foal conceived by imported frozen semen in the U.S. in 1984 (photo right).
One of the big stars of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles was Abdullah (photo left), a beautiful gray Trakehner stallion owned by Terry and Sue Williams from New York (photo, below right). Abdullah won individual silver and team gold medals at the Olympics and followed that success as 1985 World Cup Champion and 1986 World Equestrian Games individual silver and team gold winner. After the 1984 Olympics the Williams’ began exploring the possibility of freezing semen from Abdullah to satisfy requests from breeders around the world who were anxious to breed to the stallion.
At that time there were no consistent regulations established for the import of semen to the various countries and so over the next few years Paul worked with the USDA and State Veterinarians to obtain import permits and health certificates that would allow semen from Abdullah to be exported around the world. Abdullah was SBS’s first commercial client and the first stallion in the U.S. to have frozen semen exported to Europe. In the ensuing years a large inventory of frozen semen from Abdullah was frozen and banked and has been responsible for the production of foals all over the world. In fact even to this day 11 years after his death at the age of 29, Abdullah continues to sire foals from frozen semen stored at SBS.
In 1987 Paul took the position of Director of Biological Research at Hamilton-Thorne in Massachusetts and also decided the time was right to formerly incorporate Select Breeders Services, beginning to grow the company on a part-time basis. Paul’s work with Hamilton-Thorne focused on development of the Equitainer system for cooled semen and computer assisted semen analysis systems (CASA). While at Hamilton-Thorne, Paul was responsible for the breeding program of Hamilton Farm and worked with many outstanding warmblood sires including the great French stallion Galoubet A (photo left). The syndication of this stallion with many of its 100 members and their mares residing all around the country and in France led to the development of the Equitainer system for cooled semen transport.
Working with progressive minded owners of Warmblood, Morgan, Arabian and Standardbred stallions, Select Breeders grew quickly with a reputation for professionalism, superior technology and results. In the early 1990’s things started to really take off for SBS. The Arabian Horse Registry approved frozen semen and SBS exported the first frozen semen from a Standardbred stallion (Harmonius) to Europe in 1991. In 1992, Paul Loomis and Whit Byers (photo below) partnered to form Select Breeders Southwest (SBSW) in Aubrey, Texas and Paul left his position with Hamilton-Thorne to relocate SBS’s main laboratory from Massachusetts to Maryland on the grounds of Hilltop Farm (photo, above right), a prominent new Sporthorse breeding and training center. SBS blossomed in its new home and the company grew rapidly.
In 1994 SBSW, introduced the industry’s first fully equipped mobile laboratory to serve customers all over the country with the same high quality technology that was offered through the main permanent laboratories. The mobile lab was equipped with a controlled rate cell freezer, CASA system for motility analysis and all the equipment required to freeze semen using the standardized SBS protocols. Whit and Kathy Byers traveled extensively bringing SBS frozen semen services to all corners of the country and introducing the benefits of the technology to more and more horse owners. Whit was the managing partner of SBSW and for 18 years until his retirement in 2010 was the driving force behind the development of the Texas company and a critical contributor to the success of SBS.
In 1998, after traveling to Italy to freeze semen on several standardbred stallions, Paul Loomis and the owners of Studio Veterinaria Cristella partnered to form Select Breeders Services, Europe so that they could bring the SBS system for semen freezing to European clients. Like Whit Byers, Sandro Barbacini, senior partner in the clinic, was a friend and colleague that shared the same vision for the development of frozen semen and same commitment to quality that had led to the growth of SBS. SBSE was based out of the clinic near Cremona in Northern Italy under the direction of Sandro Barbacini and would be responsible for the administration of the European Affiliate program.
In 1999 and 2000 the concept of the SBS Affiliate Network was further developed with the goals of bringing SBS semen freezing and related reproductive services to breeders throughout the US and Europe and improving results with commercial frozen semen. This would be accomplished by standardizing protocols for semen processing across all network laboratories and employing strict quality standards to the production of frozen semen. Dr. Ed Squires had been retained as a consultant to SBS and among other contributions to the company was instrumental in securing agreements with prominent veterinary clinics to get the Affiliate Program off the ground. In the year 2000 the two largest breed associations in the world (American Quarter Horse Association and American Paint Horse Association) voted to allow registration of foals conceived by frozen semen. This led to an explosion in the growth of SBS, particularly in the Texas division (SBSW).
Again partnering with friends and like minded colleagues, Select Breeders Services Australasia (SBSA) was formed in 2002 as a partnership between Paul Loomis, Ed Squires, Angus McKinnon and Jim Vasey. SBSA would be operated under the Direction of Angus McKinnon and based at the Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital in Shepparton, Victoria.
January of 2011 brought the opening of a brand new headquarters for Select Breeders Services in Chesapeake City, Maryland and the start of a new chapter in the company’s development. As of October 2019, the SBS Affiliate Network consists of 26 laboratories worldwide; 17 in North America, 6 in Europe, 2 in Australia, and 1 in Central America.