The Cleveland Bay was developed in Yorkshire, England by crossing native horses with some additions of Galloway, Andalusian and possibly Arabian blood. Horses were selected for strength, speed, soundness and stamina, the qualities needed for performance in long distance transport, farm work, and riding over rough terrain.
The Cleveland Bay existed in his modern form by 1800, with the breed name ‘Cleveland’ referring to the Vale of Cleveland in Yorkshire, and ‘Bay’ to his colour (reddish brown with black points). The Cleveland Bay Horse Society was formed in Britain in 1884.
Two hundred years of pure breeding have resulted in a breed that is genetically consistent, setting it apart from the modern Warmblood. Interestingly, the lack of Thoroughbred blood in the Cleveland Bay makes him an ideal cross to Thoroughbreds in the breeding of sport horses.
Cleveland Bays are always bay in colour with no white markings, except an occasional small star. The horses stand 16 to 17hh and weigh 600 to 700kg. They have well-muscled hindquarters, sloping shoulders and dense bones. Sound, durable feet are characteristic of the breed, as is a calm disposition. The Cleveland Bay gives an overall impression of dignity and strength.
Mechanisation in the 1900s resulted in the breed becoming rare and by 1960 only six purebred stallions remained. The British Royal Family and a few other breeders took the initiative to conserve the breed, and the numbers have slowly improved.
Visit the Cleveland Bay Horse Society to find out more about this rare breed.
Text: Mandy Schroder
The full article appears in the May issue of HQ.