The Coach and Livestock Program at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia excitedly announced their newest addition in early May of 2019. A rare Cleveland Bay foal was born on April 28, and it's the first foal born at the facility in 16 years.
The foal's mother, named Fudge, and his father, Lord Brigadoon (lovingly called Clarence), reside at Colonial Williamsburg and play roles in educating the public about 18th century transportation and animals. They also represent their rare breed and showcase a type of horse that was seen often in colonial times but is now considered at risk of extinction. According to the Colonial Williamsburg website, there were only 182 registered purebred Cleveland Bays in the U.S. in 2018. This newest foal is part of the plan to help restore the population.
For two years, experts employed by the Colonial Williamsburg Cleveland Bay Breeding Program worked toward this birth, but it didn't go exactly as planned. In 2017, two Cleveland Bay mares were in foal when they both contracted infections and could not reach full term. In a second attempt, the experts focused on embryo transfer.
Fudge served as a surrogate mother for the pair of Cleveland Bay parents, and she successfully brought the foal to full term and delivered the healthy purebred baby. There are also two other Cleveland Bay foals expected to arrive in the near future, and their successful births could make the Colonial Williamsburg breeding program the top breeder for purebred Cleveland Bays in North America.
As the oldest established horse breed in England, the Cleveland Bay has a long and interesting history. They were originally bred during the Middle Ages as pack horses. Over the years, the breed gradually became lighter and were used primarily as riding and carriage horses. They weren't imported to the United States until the early 19th century, but they played an important role in forming the young country.
Visitors to Colonial Williamsburg have the privilege of seeing these well-muscled horses as they would have been 200 years ago. The horses pull carriages through the historical streets, and guests can also observe the horses in the pastures they call home. This year, visitors have the special treat of seeing the smallest and newest member of the herd grow up with his parents by his side.
Visit the Colonial Williamsburg website to plan your trip.
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Featured image via Facebook/Colonial Williamsburg