The Cleveland Bay is a real national treasure.
Originally known as Chapman Horses because they transported merchants or ‘chapmen’ back and forth, the breed adopted a new name that corresponded with its place of origin, the Cleveland region of Yorkshire, and its bay colouring.
Thought to have emerged in 17th century England, the Cleveland Bay started out as a pack horse that was later out-crossed with the Thoroughbred and Arabian to improve speed. With the advent of mechanisation, life sped up, and travellers no longer wanted the heavy horses that had traditionally worked the farm.
With the reign of Queen Victoria, horse-drawn coaches became a common sight on the roads. The Cleveland Bay was the breed of choice for this role, possessing a natural strength and enthusiasm. Unfortunately the duties and demand for this breed dwindled, and depletions through WWII nearly put an end to it altogether.
Today, the Cleveland Bay remains rare. Those that do exist are usually seen in dressage, show jumping and other competition disciplines.
The Cleveland Bay is the only non-draught equine that has been exclusively developed in Great Britain.