Name of breed: Cleveland Bay
Country of origin: England
Breed origin: The Cleveland Bay originated in England during the 17th century and is named after its colouring and the Cleveland district of the country of Yorkshire. The ancestors of the breed were developed during the Middle Ages for use as pack horses and this is where they gained their nickname of ‘Chapman Horses’. These horses were crossbred with Andalusian and Barb blood, and later with Arabians and Thoroughbreds to create the Cleveland Bay we know today. The breed became lighter in frame over the years as they were used more as carriage and riding horses.
Distinguishing features: The Cleveland Bay is well-muscled with legs that are strong but quite short in relation to the body. Always bay in colour, any white markings (except for a small star on the forehead) render the horse inadmissible to the stud book. They generally stand between 16 and 16.2hh and have large heads with a long, well-muscled neck. An interesting fact to note is that the Cleveland Bay’s legs have little to no feather, as the breed was developed partially for working in the heavy clay soils of England, where heavy feather led to increased disease prevalence. They are hardy horses with a docile temperament.
Modern day Cleveland Bay: The Cleveland Bay are incredibly versatile horses who are particularly popular today for fox hunting and show jumping, although they are still used for farm work and driving. Both the Cleveland Bay and the Cleveland Bay/TB crosses are used as royal carriage horses today.
Image credit: Southern Cleveland Bay Club