Listed on “5 Most Endangered Horse Breeds,” the Cleveland Bay Horse is one of the oldest breeds from northeast England. These horses were used everywhere from the fields to drawing a carriage and then almost became extinct. Today, Cleveland Bay Horses are used in many disciplines. A big horse with a big background, here is the 411 on the Cleveland Bay Horse.
The Original Cleveland Bay
The first Cleveland Bay horses were selectively bred by the church. The original Cleveland Bay was a mixture of Barb Horses and Andalusians, the perfect recipe for packing and pulling plows. They were known as the “Chapman horse” because the packmen using the horses were referred to as “Chapmen.” Later, they began to use Thoroughbreds to breed with the Cleveland Bay to make them lighter and quicker to pull carriages. By this time, they were like the newest iPhone, everyone had to have one.
As machinery took their place, the Cleveland Bay horses were pushed aside and as a result, their numbers began to decline. If that wasn’t enough, World War II came around and cause the breed to almost become extinct. Did you know the Cleveland Bay horse was so adored that the Queen of England became the Patron of the breed? In fact, it was Queen Elizabeth II and her purebred stallion named Mulgrave Supreme that basically saved the breed from extinction.
Today’s Cleveland Bay
Cleveland Bay horses were imported to eastern North America in the 1800s. Around then, there were thousands registered. These big bay horses were used to pull stagecoaches in the west. Speaking of, did you know that Buffalo Bill chose this breed to star in his Wild West show? How cool is that!
Today, they are still an endangered breed and reporting less than 300 registered in North America, so the Cleveland Bay of modern times is big but versatile. Nowadays, you can find these horses in many disciplines such as dressage, eventing, harness, and even on the trails. Their substance and stamina make them an ideal horse for competitions and long days.
As their name suggests, the Cleveland Bay horse is indeed bay in color with a black mane and tail and black legs. Minimal markings are found and accepted for the purebred Cleveland Bay such as a small star or a few grey hairs. The breed is healthy and should have good, strong feet. They stand at about 16hh to 16.2hh and are built like a brick house - strong, deep, and wide. Cleveland Bays are considered warm-blooded horses. They are intelligent, calm, but ready to go. Quick on their feet, but surefooted, the Cleveland Bay is a perfect choice for eventing and fox hunting.
If you are looking for a versatile horse that has a perfect combination of both power and personality, the Cleveland Bay horse may be just the perfect choice for you! Because the breed is so endangered, people are working hard to promote and increase their numbers. When shopping for your next mount, be sure to check the Cleveland Bay out!