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Moronacity Horse Journal » Breeds

Cleveland Bay Horse

By Diane Ursu
The Cleveland Bay Horse must have a black mane and tail, and four black legs.  Photo:  CMSporthorsesThe Cleveland Bay Horse is a strong and graceful breed that has flourished, but has also faced extinction. It saw a resurgence in the late 1900s and can be found through many reputable breeders in the United Kingdom and the United States.

History of the Cleveland Bay Horse Breed

The Cleveland Bay breed seems to always have been around, but their time of origin is unknown. “They carried the goods of the Chapmen (Travelling Salesmen) and as a result initially became known as Chapman horses,” the U.K.’s Cleveland Bay Horse Society reports in “A Brief History of the Cleveland Bay Horse.” The Chapman horses were bred with Andalusian and Barb horses that were brought into the area. The combination of these two breeds produced the Cleveland Bay Horse, who excelled as a pack and harness horse towards the end of the 1600s.

In the 1700s, the Cleveland Bay was found useful for agricultural purposes. Some bred their Cleveland Bays with Thoroughbreds to produce the Yorkshire Coach Horse. This elegant horse was highly sought after. Breeding for the Yorkshire Coach Horse increased as these horses were exported all over the world.

With the invention of the railroad and the production of the automobile, the need for Cleveland Bays declined. Few breeders in their area of origin in Northeast England continued to breed these horses. “By the early 1960s there were only a handful of mature stallions in England and not many more mares with which to rebuild the breed,” the Cleveland Bay Horse Society reports. Fortunately, the queen, whose father bred Cleveland Bays in the 1920s, purchased a purebred Cleveland Bay colt. Her investment sparked a renewed interest in the breed, saving it from extinction. According to “The Breed,” by the Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America, “Currently the breed is still critically rare, with only about 500 purebreds in the world and less than 200 in North America.”

Cleveland Bays are strong, graceful horses, and are intelligent and sensible. They are versatile horses. They are still used for driving. They are shown in jumping, dressage, and eventing; and are excellent for hunting. The Cleveland Bay is an ideal horse for someone who enjoys participating in the many disciplines of equestrian sports and leisure.

This stallion is three-quarters Cleveland Bay Horse and is what used to be considered a Yorkshire Coach Horse.  Photo:  CMSporthorsesCleveland Bay Horse Conformation

Cleveland Bay Horses are generally 16.0—16.2 hh. The horses must be bay in color: reddish-brown body with black mane and tail, and all four legs must be black. Ideally, the reddish-brown color of the horse does not extend below the knees. The Cleveland Bay should not have any white, although a very small star on the face is acceptable. In “Cleveland Bay Standard of Points,” the Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America describes the ideal body of the horse: “The body should be wide and deep. The back should not be too long and should be strong with muscular loins. The shoulder should be sloping, deep and muscular. The quarters should be level, powerful, long and oval, the tail springing well from the quarters.” The neck should be long and lean. The horse should have good-sized feet and “must be of the best and blue in color.”

Cleveland Bay Horse Breeders

The following are listings of breeders in the United Kingdom and the United States:


2 Responses to "Cleveland Bay Horse"

  1. lsu tigers says:

    omg i want one soo bad i have a list of horse i want and this is now sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo added to my list . i love horses so much . i want to open my own stabels…………………………………………… BUT ONE LILTTEL PROBLEM I DONT HAVE HORESE AND IM ONLY 11. BUT WHEN I GET OLDER I WILL OPEN ON . IT WILL BE CALLED (chestnut stabels)

  2. DocHudson says:

    I love this horse.
    One of my favorite colors is bay.


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