TWO GREAT ENGLISH HARNESS BREEDS EMERGE
The district of Yorkshire in northeastern England held the premiere place in early Thoroughbred breeding, but out of such good horse country other breeds also came: the classic harness types of the 19th century, the Yorkshire coach horse and its descendant, the Cleveland Bay. From the district of Norfolk a little farther to the south, we get the Norfolk Trotter and the Hackney. In the 16th and early 17th centuries, these horses—like all those to be found in the Dutch-influenced lowland counties of eastern England— were stout, compact farm horses little bigger than ponies, commonly employed as pack animals. Their ancestry was draft with a dash of Dutch Hartdraaver, and they were trotters—which was not a problem, because they were not intended for riding. In the latter half of the 17th century, Thoroughbred stallions were used on them to produce the above-named breeds. The high-stepping stallion Old Shales (1755) by Blaze, out of a half-bred mare by the massive Sampson also by Blaze, is considered the foundation sire of the Hackney. His sire-line descendant Bellfounder (1816) was imported to America and here influenced both the Saddlebred and Standardbred.
A Fell Pony stallion, Comet II (1851) by Trotting Comet (1840) out of a Galloway (i.e., Scottish ambling) mare. This is the sort of horse upon which Thoroughbred and quality half-bred sires were used to produce the Norfolk Roadster and the Hackney. Note the weighted quarterboots buckled upon the fore pasterns, used to induce the horse to lift its knees higher and fold them more sharply. Comet II
Hackney stallion imported to the United States in 1890
An early 19th century Norfolk Trotter, also called Norfolk Roadster