Cleveland Bay


The Cleveland Bay is clearly one of the oldest breeds of English horses. It is possible that the Cleveland Bay descended from the Medieval Sumpter which was the forerunner of a horse called a "Chapman's Horse." (Chapman were dealers in goods who used pack horses when poor roads prohibited reliable cartage between towns.) The Cleveland district of Yorkshire, a northern English county, was known for raising the Chapman's horse and is the native area of the Cleveland Bay. The Cleveland Bay also gains its name from its color which is always bay. Two types of Cleveland Bays are bred, one for agriculture and the other for coaching.

The Cleveland Bay is noted for its strong legs and muscular loins. It has a large head on a smooth neck. Its color is always bay with black mane and tail. Only a star and a few gray hairs about the coronet and heel are allowable for registered horses. It has a free and smooth action and considerable strength usually standing between 16 and 16.2 hands.

The Cleveland Bay was originally bred in the vale of Cleveland in Yorkshire - the northernmost county of England. The breed is descended from the Chapman's horse, a type of horse used by traveling merchants to transport goods before good roads became available. The "Old Cleveland Bay" was infused with the blood of the Thoroughbred in the 1700s, much to its improvement. Two of these Thoroughbreds were Monica (by Darley Arabian) and Jalap (by Regulus, by Godolphin Arabian).

The Cleveland Bay was first imported to the United States in 1820. It was used in stage coach teams in the west, since they combined strength with speed. With the passing of the coach horse, the Cleveland Bay has been bred to the Thoroughbred to produce excellent heavyweight hunters which have great stamina and are sure-footed. The number of Cleveland Bays in American has diminished in recent years, although efforts are now under way to increase their numbers. They remain quite popular in Britain.

1. Spanish 2. Thoroughbred

For more information:
Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America
Listed as "Critical" by The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (2004)

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