As the name suggests, the Cleveland Bay emanates from the Cleveland area of North East England. The Cleveland Bay is probably Britains oldest breed of horse. They are currently rated critical on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust endangered species list. The Trust believes there to be only 300 pure breeding mares worldwide.
The Cleveland Bay evolved from the Chapman horse. The Chapman's were travelling salesman that bred this strong sturdy horse to carry their wares. As time went by, breeders worked to refine this horse and introduced the blood of two fine Thoroughbreds in the early 1700's. However since 1750 there has been no further injection of thoroughbred blood into the purebred Cleveland Bay. A breed of fixed type was, therefore, finally established which passes on its qualities to its progeny.
The breed declined and in 1962 there were only four mature stallions left in Britain. At this point the Queen got involved. She bought a colt named Mulgrave Supreme, who was supposed to be sent to America. His success as a sire was such that within 15 years the number of stallions in the UK had increased to about 35, many of which were progeny of Mulgrave Supreme.
The versatile Cleveland Bay has achieved world recognition through dressage, show jumping, eventing and being a top driving competition horse for Prince Phillip as well a very elegant ceremonial horse for both the Queen and the Emperor of Japan.
America, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand and many other countries have imported Cleveland Bays to improve their native stock.
The pure-bred Cleveland Bay is a very intelligent horse with a sensible temperament. They possess a strong character, have plenty of bone and substance, are hardy, long lived and have tremendous stamina.
Characteristically the breed is very bold and honest. They are always bay in colour and their action is level, free and long striding.
Crossed with Thoroughbreds, the Cleveland Bay can produce a top horse in the competing fields of jumping, eventing and dressage.
Cleveland's are an established breed and so breed true to type. Their characteristics and traits are passed on to their progeny. This makes them an ideal out-cross.