The Cleveland Bay, called the Chapman Horse in medieval times, was once used as a pack horse for monasteries and peddlers. Later, as roads became better and more suited for wagons, they were used as coach horses, and then Thoroughbred blood was added to create a faster horse. Because of that, the breed split into two breeds: the Yorkshire Coach Horse, which continued to be used to pull coaches, and the Cleveland Bay, a similar version with the added Thoroughbred blood.
|Cleveland Bays come in two body types: a strong, tall type resembling |
the Yorkshire Coach Horse, and a slightly smaller, slender type, which is a result of the added Thoroughbred blood.
By 1950, only five stallions remained, and the Queen of England, among other avid breeders, have since worked hard to save the breed from extinction. Today, only 500 Cleveland Bays are registered worldwide, with 200 of them in North America alone.
Cleveland Bays are elegant, athletic horses. Some of them move in graceful, sweeping motion, while others have a more upright stride. They are hardy horses, easy keepers, and stand from 16 to 16.2 hands high. Just like Friesians are black 99% of the time, Cleveland bays are dark bay, probably because the original herd of horses was all ark bay, and were bred until the color was fixed. However, there are rare genetic throwbacks when a foal comes out to be chestnut instead of bay.
The Cleveland Bay is intelligent with a strong character. They are bold and honest. Because of their good temperament, they make excellent police horses.
Because of their endurance, quickness, and versatility, Cleveland Bays excel in many disciplines, including jumping, hunting, dressage, eventing and trail riding. They are also good carriage horses. In fact, pairs of Cleveland Bays have been seen in FEI driving trials over the years.