The Cleveland Bay is a Warmblood horse, with its sire and dam having a recorded history dating back to the 16th Century and into which the introduction of other bloodlines has been entirely excluded since 1884. The Cleveland Bay is the last and only remaining Pure Breed of Warmblood horse left in the world today. What, may you ask, is the basic genetic make-up of this Warmblood breed? The origins date back to the 16th century with ‘base stock’ being what was then known as the Chapman horse, a cold blooded horse already fixed in type, bay in colour, and which frequented the Cleveland District in Northern England. It was a very versatile horse, as much at home under saddle, or packing heavy loads to the nearest port. The blending of the hotblood came with the introduction of Barb and Andalusian stallions to the area, brought home by Officers of the armed services returning to to their estates following the civil wars of the 1640’s.
By the 18th century there was no other infusion of alien blood and the Cleveland Bay emerged as an unmistakably fixed type. It was a stylish, powerful coach horse, the only horse capable of working land and carrying heavy men to hounds. The English StudBook was established in 1884. It is little wonder that this type of horse with its strength, quality and prepotency was in demand for export to other countries for use in their breeding programs. Russian breeders in the Vladmire district imported a Cleveland Bay in 1887. The German stud at Celle between 1839 and 1889 had almost 50 Cleveland Bay and Yorkshire Coach horse (CB cross) stallions. In 1844 the stallion Astonishment was imported to Oldenberg. The Americans imported their first of the breed in 1853 and began their own studbook in 1889. Even to this day the Imperial household in Japan is still importing Cleveland Bays.
In the 1890’s, Major Phillip Charley who was a very strong advocate of the Cleveland Bay, using its characteristic longevity and fertility, together with its natural ability for jumping, to improve his cavalry mounts. By the early 1900’s the breed was once more in decline, a matter made worse then by the first world war where many Cleveland’s were lost on the battlefields of France having adapted well to the role of artillery horses potentially sealing their own fate. Between the wars the breed did no more than hang on to existence and after hostilities ended in 1945, the breed was severely depleted in numbers. By the early 1960’s there were only a handful of mature stallions in England and not many more mares with which to rebuild the breed. Fortunately Her Majesty the Queen gave the breed a great boost. Her Majesty’s Grandfather had been a breeder of Cleveland bays in the 1920’s and in true family tradition the Queen stepped in at the breeds darkest hour to purchase a pure Cleveland Bay colt named Mulgrave Supreme who was born in 1961 and had been earmarked for export. Her Majesty made the horse available at public stud and the breed suddenly found a new popularity with the English public that saw stallion numbers rise dramatically over the next 10 years. Mulgrave Supreme became a household name in the horse world with many successful offspring competing in all disciplines.
It was not until 1975 that the Australasian Cleveland Bay Society was formed and stud book records have been kept since that time. The introduction of Cleveland Bay blood to our local stock has produced horses for the competitive arenas in dressage to Grand Prix level, State representatives in jumping, driving and cross-country as well as horses for the pleasure industry and police force.of our modern equestrian horse, that is, one with size, good bone, sound, nice even temperament and straight ground covering movement. Then consider the type of mare generally available in Australia and New Zealand for breeding, which is a high spirited, fine boned and generally smaller in stature animal. A blending with the qualities of the pre-potent Cleveland Bay offers the Australasian breeding program, an excellent cross when aiming to produce an equestrian sporting horse.
For more on the history of the Cleveland Bay, check out http://www.clevelandbay.com/about-cb-horses/content_-_about_cb_horses_-_history