Breed Report: Cleveland Bay

The Cleveland Bay is a very attractive bay horse.

The Cleveland Bay is a very attractive bay horse.  Popularly used for carriage driving, he makes a very good hunter, and crosses with the Thoroughbred result for a good stamp of sports horse, particularly for showjumping.  The Cleveland Bay is always bright bay, which sets off the black “points” of his legs and and the mane and tail.

ORIGIN:  United Kingdom

ENVIRONMENT:  Open habitat including grassland, moor and heath

USES:  Riding, sports and carriage work

HEIGHT:  16.0  to 16.2 hh (64 to 66 in)



The Cleveland Bay is believed to be Britain’s oldest breed, descended from a particular stamp of bay pack horses that were bred in the monasteries of northern England during the Middle Ages.  The bay horse they bred was used by travelling tradesmen and known as “chapmen”.  Thus the horse became the Chapman Horse.  In the 17th century, it was crossed with Barb, and Andalucian horses in some cases, resulting what we now know as the Cleveland Bay.


The Cleveland Bay is an elegant horse with a level, free, long striding action that can be used for riding, carriage, and light draft work.  An active, elegant but very powerful horse, the Cleveland Bay is bold and honest, but he has a strong character, making him difficult if mishandled.

Cleveland Bay.jpg


The 18th century was the golden age of carriage driving.  It was then that the Cleveland Bay was crossed with the Thoroughbred to produce the faster Yorkshire Coach Horse.  These exceptional carriage horses were exported all over the world.

The Cleveland Bay has no relationship to Cleveland, OH, or Cleveland Bologna, for that matter (and I like Cleveland Bologna).  Cleveland Bologna is not made of Cleveland Bay.  At least, I think so …

Debby Sly: Encyclopedia of Horses.  Bath, UK 2008, p. 205


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