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Cleveland Bays Bring Real Field Hunters to Upperville

If you want to see real field hunters at the Upperville Horse Show, the Cleveland Bay Hunter Division is for you. More than twenty-five percent of the entries in that division have seen service in the hunting field. Another twenty-five percent or so of the Cleveland Bay entries are still too young for the field, and will compete in the in-hand classes.

The Cleveland Bay Hunter Division will be held on Thursday afternoon in the Main Hunter Ring, immediately following the Adult Amateur Classic. The classes could begin as early as 1:30 pm.

There are about thirty entries in the division, eleven of those being purebreds. Anyone interested in the breed is encouraged to come, Upperville being the single most important showcase for the breed in North America.

The Cleveland Bay is said to be England’s oldest breed of horse. As the name suggests, the breed originated in the Cleveland region of the northeastern part of that country. Descendant mares of the so-called Chapman horses—pack horses bred by the monks at the monasteries in the Middle Ages—were crossed in the mid-seventeenth century with imported barb stallions for both pack and harness use. The Chapmans were the foundation mares of the Cleveland Bays.

In the eighteenth century, these useful Chapman-barb crosses were crossed with Thoroughbreds to increase their speed under harness. The resulting crosses became known as the Yorkshire Coach Horse—tall, elegant, and a favorite of royalty and the well-to-do. We know these horses today as the Cleveland Bay.

Always bay in color, the Cleveland Bay is intelligent, versatile, sensible, bold, and honest. Because it has a strong character coupled with a sensitive temperament, it can be ruined by insensitive handling early in its schooling.

The Cleveland Bay breeds true to type (reproduces with consistency), and with its good substance and free movement, makes an excellent cross with the Thoroughbred.

Cleveland Bay enthusiasts will host tailgate refreshments in the parking area immediately following the classes—a good opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about this breed to meet owners and breeders.

Posted June 3, 2015