The Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America developed breed standards to help owners, breeders, and those new to the breed understand the ideal phenotype for purebreds and partbreds. These guidelines may help when purchasing and breeding Cleveland Bays. These are recommendations, as the Society does not own a studbook, license stallions, approve mares, or upgrades partbreds/sport horses. These standards were developed by researching modern CB published standards and those published in the original CBHS UK studbook in 1884 and the American studbook in 1885.
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CLEVELAND BAY HORSE PUREBRED STANDARDS
RECOMMENDED BY THE CLEVELAND BAY HORSE SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA
(BOLD INDICATES PUREBRED STANDARD DESCRIPTIONS FROM THE CLEVELAND BAY HORSE SOCIETY STUDBOOK, VOL 1, PUBLISHED IN 1884 and additional Italics indicate July 2022 amendments)
16.0 hh to 16.2 hh height outside this range is acceptable if height, weight and bone are in balance. Historically 16.1 to 16.2 1/2 hands.
The body is wide and deep. The back is not too long, and is strong with muscular loins. The shoulders are sloping, deep and muscular. The quarters are level, powerful, long, and oval with the tail springing well from the quarters. Good sloping shoulder, a short back, powerful loins, long quarters.
Denotes activity and strength, combined in manner not seen in any other breed.
Action must be true, straight, and free. Not remarkably high but is the kind of action for getting over the ground.
Cleveland Bays are bay with black points*. (Occasionally grey hairs in mane and tail are known to occur). Bay, light or dark, black legs clear of hair, black zebra like stripes on the arm and hock are sometimes seen. Known as black points and are supposed to denote especial of breeding. White to include a small star* and few white hairs in the heel allowed.
Adapted for plough, a heavy conveyance, slow saddle work-what Americans call “a general utility horse”. For artillery purposes: docility, strength, and endurance admirably qualify breed. These qualities remain useful for many of today’s needs.
HEAD, EYES, and EARS
— The head characteristic of the breed is bold and not too small. It is be well carried on a long, muscular neck. (Roman nose is common). Rather plain than otherwise, on the large side but is well carried. Ears tend to be large and fine. Eyes are large, well set and kindly in expression.
— Arms and gaskins are muscular. The knees and hocks are large and well closed with normally a minimum of nine (9) inch bone** on a 16.0 hands mature male (usually over six years old) less on a mature female. Outside this range is acceptable if height, weight, and bone is proportional. The pasterns are strong, sloping and not too long. The legs at the knee, hock, and below would feel very firm, solid, and strong, and are clear of superfluous hair.
One of the most important features of the breed; the feet must be of the best and blue in color. Feet that are shallow or narrow are undesirable. “NO FOOT – NO HORSE”.
Standards describe an ideal mature male purebred with females generally smaller. Color is the hallmark of the breed: but, color should never be judged above conformation and movement.
Cleveland Bay Horse Society Vol 1 (1884) descriptions are included to demonstrate original historic published standards.
*Size of “star” has never been officially defined and open to interpretation. White marking (ankle and below, snips, and roaning outside the forehead) are atypical but has been seen in purebreds. Black points are defined as black tail, mane, points of ears, and ALL black below knees and hocks. — FYI June 2022 the CBHS announced in their Studbook Vol 40, the maximum size of a star is 3.23 cm/1.27 inches (reference British half crown 1816-1970) at the time when the horse is registered. It is unknown how long the Society has applied this exact standard or how the registrar measures the star because measurements are not required on applications. It is unknown if this “size” is a SOP or an opinion. Inquiry has been sent to the CBHS on 29 July 2022. Reference to compare USA Kennedy half dollar is 3.06 cm and Canadian $2 coin is 2.8 cm.—-
Breed origins are not completely known and some outside blood was introduced in the 19th and early 20th Century (ie. Yorkshire Coach Horse and Yorkshire Bay). Scientific publication in 2019 suggests Tukomen horse, English Thoroughbred along with other breed origins.
CLEVELAND BAY HORSE PARTBRED/SPORT HORSE STANDARDS
The designation of Cleveland Bay partbreds/sport horse was not coined until the late 1970s when the Cleveland Bay Horse Society began recognizing and documenting CB crosses. Today Cleveland Bay Partbreds, also known as Cleveland Bay Sport horses with 1/8th CB blood or more, are accepted by all Cleveland Bay registries and organizations. Specific conformation descriptions of the ideal partbred/ sport horse hasn’t been described until the past few years (CBHS Australia).
When judging partbred/sport horses, ALL colors and markings are acceptable. Body type or conformation should strive to conform to the purebred standard with final emphasis on a sound, athletic animal with a pleasant disposition and movement, again with height, bone, and weight in balance.
CBxs with “green passports” are known to be accepted in purebred conformation classes. These horses are at least 3/4 or 75% CB and have the pure phenotype. ICBR registry calls CBxs with 75%+ blood Tier A CBs. CBHSNA suggests inquiring with show managers when competing in CB only classes whether Green passport/Tier A may compete as pures. 29 July 2022
The Cleveland Bay horse is a wonderful breed. We hope you enjoy purebred Cleveland Bay and/or partbred Cleveland Bay/sport horses that you choose to ride, drive, or breed. Please direct any questions to the Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America, firstname.lastname@example.org .
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