TWO GREAT ENGLISH HAR­NESS BREEDS EMERGE

EQUUS - - Conformation Insights -

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

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