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The Cleveland bay originated from Cleveland in the North of England. It is the oldest British breed, first established in the 17th century. The Cleveland Bay is known as the English Warmblood and is technically the last remaining pure breed of Warmblood horse in the world today. The purebred Cleveland Bay is now listed on the world rare and endangered breed list; worldwide fewer than 600 purebreds are still alive today. To put this into perspective the black rhino and giant panda are considered to be the rarest mammals on earth, but you can still find over 2000 of either in the wild.


In the UK numbers diminished after the second world war and were further reduced as many of the remaining individuals were exported, notably to the USA and Japan. The English population of purebred Cleveland Bays dwindled to a point where only 4 purebred stallions remained in the country. However, in the early 1950s, a newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II saw the versatility of this very English breed diminishing. She then purchased a purebred stallion called Mulgrave Supreme and was appointed the patron of the Cleveland Bay Horse Society. Many Cleveland Bays can now be found in the Royal Mews as the parade and carriage horses; with their confidence, stature and calm nature making them ideal ceremonial horses. Their quiet temperament and trainability have also resulted in their use the world over as military and police horses.


The Cleveland Bay has proven to cross well with most other breeds, producing an athletic, trainable Cleveland Bay Sporthorse. The Cleveland Bay Sporthorse can be seen out competing in all disciplines, from the harness to hunting and 3-day-eventing to Grand Prix dressage. The quiet and unflappable nature of the Cleveland Bay is world-renowned – to own a Cleveland Bay is to start a lifetime love affair with the breed.  




Generally around 16 – 16.2hh. Bay in colour with black legs, hooves, mane and tail. Their bodies are deep and wide, their backs are generally short, with muscular, deep quarters and a sloping shoulder that should be deep and strong. The head should be bold and noble, on a long, muscular neck. The eyes are big, well-set and reflect the kindness of this breed. The ears are large and alert. The limbs should be well-set with large joints, a good length of the cannon bone, with at least a 9-inch circumference, finished with a good, clean look and a solid black/blue hoof. The action is true, straight and free, with a powerful movement coming from both shoulder and quarters. The temperament is kind, willing and brave.


For more information, you are welcome to email us or try the following links:


The Cleveland Bay Horse Society of Australasia:


NZ-specific information:


Cleveland Bay Horse Society (UK):


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