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Breed Organization Information

The Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America
P.O. Box 483
Goshen, NH 03752
Tel./ Fax: (603)863-5193
[email protected]

About the Breed

English Heritage

The Cleveland Bay originated in Britain, in the Cleveland area of Northern Yorkshire, and is the oldest of the indigenous breed of English horses. Yorkshire is known as the source of two breeds, the Thoroughbred and the Cleveland Bay. The Cleveland Bay breed is thought to have evolved from crossing native bay colored mares with Oriental stallions during the 17th century. Shaped by a harsh environment, a horse of durability, longevity and quiet disposition resulted. These characteristics, combined with the uniformity of bay color, size, and substance, developed a versatile breed used as hunt horse, coach or packhorse, and as an agricultural worker. Originally known as the Chapman horse, after the salesmen who exclusively used Cleveland Bays, the breed excelled as an all-rounder. During the peak of the breed's popularity in the late 1880s, the Cleveland Bay Horse Society of Great Britain published the first volume of its Stud Book, which contained stallions and mares selected for the purity of blood.

During the 19th century, some Cleveland Bays were bred to Thoroughbreds, which produced the Yorkshire Coach Horse, a carriage horse with unmatched ability for speed, style, and power. With the advent of the mechanical age, the numbers of Cleveland Bay and Yorkshire Coach horses rapidly declined. They were further decimated by use as artillery horses during World War I. The Cleveland Bay survived in the region of it's birthplace during these difficult times, but in the 1960's only five or six mature stallions were known. Due to the foresight and determination of the Yorkshire admirers, the breed has survived and numbers have grown. The Queen of England became the Patron of the breed, and her Royal Mews continues the tradition of using Cleveland Bays and cross-breeds in ceremonial duties.

The Cleveland Bay has successfully been cross-bred to Thoroughbred types to produce outstanding performance horses in dressage, driving, and jumping. It is through these quality animals that breed recognition is becoming known. With the increase of numbers of Cleveland Bay purebreds, some are competing along with breeding duties. Although listed as an endangered breed with less than 500 world wide, Cleveland Bay lovers from Britain, North America, Japan, New Zealand and Australia are dedicated to the conservation of this unique horse.

American Versatility

The first Cleveland Bay stallions were imported to Maryland, Virginia, and Massachusetts in the early 1800's. The 1884 Upperville Colt and Horse Show in Virginia was created to showcase Col. Dulany's imported stallion, Scrivington, and his offspring. Later William Cody, America's Buffalo Bill, chose the Cleveland Bay for his Wild West show. States utilized the stallions in their breeding of range horses, noting their staying quality, easy maintenance, and a match for the biggest of steers.

The Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America was founded in 1885, with 2000 stallions and mares registered by 1907. Imported as superb coach horses, the breed interest waned during mechanization, but was briefly revived in the 1930's when Alexander Mackay-Smith imported founding stock for hunters. Presently, there are about 50 purebred Cleveland Bays in the United States and Canada, with many Cleveland Bay Part-breds competing in all disciplines of horsemanship.

Breed Characteristics

Height: 16.0 hh to 16.2 hh, but height should not disqualify an otherwise good sort.

Color: Cleveland Bays must be bay with black points, i.e. black legs, black mane and black tail. Grey hairs in mane and tail do not disqualify. These have long been recognized as a feature in certain strains of pure Cleveland blood. White is not admissible beyond a very small white star. Legs which are bay or red below the knees and hocks do not disqualify, but are faulty as to color.

Body: The body should be wide and deep. The back should not be too long, and should be strong with muscular loins. The shoulders should be sloping, deep and muscular. The quarters should be level, powerful, long and oval, the tail springing well from the quarters.

Head and Neck: The head characteristics of the breed should be bold and not too small. It should be well carried on a long lean neck.

Eyes: Eyes should be large, well set and kindly in expression.

Ears: Ears tend to be large and fine.

Limbs: Arms and thighs and second thighs should be muscular. The knees and hocks should be large and well closed. There should be 9" upwards of good flat bone below the knee measured at the narrowest point on a tight tape. The pasterns should be strong and sloping and not too long. The legs should be clear of superfluous hair and as clean and hard as possible.

Feet: One of the most important features of the breed; the feet must be of the best and blue in color. Feet that are shallow or narrow are undesirable.

Action: Action must be true, straight and free. High action is not characteristic of the breed. The Cleveland which moves well and which is full of courage will move move freely from the shoulder, and will flex his knees and hocks sufficiently. The action required is free all round, gets over the ground and fits the wear-and-tear qualities of the breed.
Breed Organizations

The Cleveland Bay purebred and part-bred registry is maintained and supervised by the Cleveland Bay Society of Great Britain. Only pure-bred Cleveland Bays sired by a stallion awarded the Certificate for Pure Breeding are eligible for registry. Inspection and approval of stallions and mares by the British Cleveland Society is done every three years or as warranted.