Sienna, ICSI Foal, at 4 years of age.  Bravado Ego Z x Wonette


It’s for good reason breeders all over New Zealand head to Dr Lee Morris and her new company EquiBreed ART.

Lee is a pioneering world leader in the field of equine reproduction and hugely respected as the best in Australasia. She and her team at her former company EquiBreed made history with the birth of New Zealand’s first foal produced by an in vitro fertility treatment using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). At the time, Lee called it a watershed moment both for her company and the nation . . . but there is so much more to come from this unassuming business. The Aussie-turned-Kiwi landed in New Zealand in 2002 and has pretty much made waves – in her quiet unassuming way – ever since. She likes to let her ‘babies’ do the talking.



 Sienna, ICSI Foal.   Bravado Ego Z x Wonette


Lee has had a hand in the breeding of so many including Olympians Fiber Fresh Popeye and Balmoral Sensation, as well as Olympic Cup winner Fiber Fresh Veroana among others.

She’s also a long-standing sponsor of ESNZ Jumping series.

Wairarapa’s East Coast Performance Horses are one of her clients, and breeding manager Nicki Booth says there is no-one else they would use.

She figures their relationship dates back at least a decade and began when they needed an embryo transfer done on Picarla, a newly imported mare from Ireland.

“She has been one of our foundation mares and Lee has made 13-14 babies for us out of that mare,” says Nicki. At 27 she’s now the nanny in the paddock, living “the high life and getting whatever she wants”.

“Lee is so good at what she does,” says Nicki. “Over the years we have had a few older tricky competition mares who have been tried elsewhere with other (experts) before coming to us. These are bloodlines that we have wanted to preserve and keep in our herd. She’s simply the best in the business and year after year has given us the best results possible.”

Sam Taylor is the director and equine vet at Rangiora Vet Centre and has worked with Lee for 15 years. Around 18 months ago, they shipped the first frozen-thawed embryo to the South Island, opening up a whole new world for Mainland breeders.

“She’s so direct, approachable and is able to answer and explain everything so well,” says Sam. “She is always at the forefront of technology and delivers outstanding results to clients which keeps everyone happy.”

Henton Lodge Hanoverians are one of Lee’s longest standing clients.

“New Zealand is extremely lucky to have someone like Lee here,” says Henton Lodge’s Bridgit Sutton. She and husband Dave have used most of the methods Lee offers to produce their high quality foals.

“We bred Henton Faberge out of an old mare who was 19 and we couldn’t get her in foal to fresh semen” says Dave. “Lee made sure she came home in foal.”

After Faberge came Henton for Fun who went to top eventer William Fox-Pitt and Henton for Glory.

“Lee is highly skilled and an absolute pleasure to deal with,” says Dave. “She is dead honest and doesn’t waste our money.”

Last year Lee sold all the mare breeding services, the embryo recipient herd, semen storage and dispatch and the MPI export approved stallion semen collection and freezing facility from EquiBreed to MVS Equine.

She and her husband Newlands Whytock have established EquiBreed ART (Advanced Reproductive Technologies), providing advanced reproductive technologies including ovum pick up (OPU), ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), embryo freezing, embryo sexing, research and consultancy services and distributes innovative breeding supplies from BotuPharma and Vetmotl Inc. EquiBreed ART is also the NZ agent for frozen semen from VDL, Van Olst and Groupe France Elevage. The semen is available on a pregnancy basis to New Zealand breeders via insemination hubs.

“Doing this allows me to focus on embryo and laboratory-based advances to New Zealand breeders so they have a full suite of options available for breeding or freezing to produce their next champion,” says Lee who has recently published two cutting edge papers in peer reviewed journals. “One was on frozen embryos and the other on a new sperm storage technology that allows us to thaw and store frozen semen up to 16 hours before the mare is inseminated. By publishing papers and presenting their findings internationally, EquiBreed ART can keep up to date with developments in other laboratories around the world. This information flow ensures New Zealand is kept abreast of the new techniques to improve fertility or provide practical options for fertility challenges.”

Wonette ICSI blastocyst 2018 


Milestones in embryo technology in New Zealand


  • 2017 – first foals born from frozen embryos. These were in vivo derived embryos where the mare was inseminated, and fertilisation occurred in her reproductive tract. The first foal born from a frozen embryo in New Zealand was at East Coast Performance Horses.
  • 2019 – first foals born from frozen ICSI embryos. These foals were created by an advanced reproductive technology (ART) called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).
  • 2020 – the number of foals born from frozen embryos quadrupled in a year and there were twice as many foals produced from frozen ICSI embryos than frozen in vivo embryos.
  • 2022 – there were six times as many foals born from frozen embryos than in 2019. There were also six times as many foals produced from ICSI than in vivo fertilised frozen embryos.
  • 2023 – the first foal was born from a frozen thawed ICSI embryo shipped at room temperature to the South Island.
  • 2023 – the first foal was born from a frozen thawed ICSI embryo produced with epididymal sperm frozen at the time of gelding.


“To date we have produced more than 150 foals from frozen embryos, with more on the way,” says Lee. “There is so much more to come in this space.”


For more information, head to


Diana Dobson

28 June 2024