Cleveland Bay Breed

I am considering purchasing a Cleveland Bay to be used primarily for foxhunting. Can anyone share with me their experiences with this breed. Are there any genetic issues due to the small breeding population?

Do it!!! There are 3 at my barn and I’ve ridden 2 (one is retired) and can’t say enough good things! The one I’m leasing has been awesome! She’s a great jumper and has been showing me the BN ropes but she has scope for much more. Her half brother competed Prelim and is now one of the main lesson horses. Both love jumping, do well in dressage and are pretty chill (but can have a go button when they get to XC).


Have only known a CB x TB but it was wonderfully athletic with a fantastic brain. Great jump, plenty of forward without being hot.

Another horse I think may have been a CB was quite spooky and nervous. But I don’t think that is typical for the breed and I’m not even 100% sure it was a CB.

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Sadly, the Cleveland Bay is now an endangered rare breed in the UK, it’s place if origin. They are sustained by a small band of devotees who enjoy the ability of the breed to turn a good hoof to anything. They suffer a bit, I think, by being just plain bay, just quietly effective over fences, good in harness but no spectacular knee action, just competent no-drama hunters - so slightly invisible.

Unfortunately, my personal experience was a mare that was absolutely the most stubborn horse I have even ridden in six decades! But on other days she was fine.


My parents had a few really nice ones over the years, both full CB and CB crosses. They mostly hunted but one did some hunter/jumper shows as well. There used to be a LOVELY stallion in Virginia called Forbes Native Statesman who sadly passed away quite young due to a really freak pasture accident involving a tree branch (IIRC). Other than losing one to colic, my parents’ horses were all sound and healthy.

At one time there seemed to be quite an active CB community in the Mid-Atlantic. I remember going to some CB shows (they were/are my dad’s favorite breed) as a kid and there being quite a lot of horses there. I think there were several breeders in the area too. I’m not sure if that is still true, my parents have mostly gotten out of horses and I’m no longer in the area, but I’ve always had a great impression of the breed and hope that it is still being well represented.


Only genetic problem I know of is that they can be over at the knee, but this doesn’t necessarily affect performance.

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They are our favorite breed! We have 9 Partbred Clevelands now, love them to pieces. We drive ours in CDE competitions, love their brains. Some have been ridden in competition, done well with our kids. Like Willisdon said, they are very adaptable to your needs. Most can jump like deer, enjoy going out and about. I expect some might be silly if they never get used outside an arena, but so would any other breed of horse.

They do take a bit more time to “grow up” mentally and physically. We start ours late, 4yrs, worked lightly on those young bones. Not drilled to death. You get rewarded with a horse eager to please, stays sound to use into their 20’s for us. They are SMART, so we find them very enjoyable as experienced horse handlers. They may not be what a beginner needs if rider is not a person-in-control. Not ever mean, but they will take charge if rider seems unsure.

Our are accepting that people WILL screw up, willing to stop, get things organized, try again. They might give you “the look” but stay cooperative in the next effort. Husband says he hates getting “the look!” Ha ha A forgiving horse is pretty wonderful!

People at competitions admire ours, but seldom ask the breeding, thinking they “know their breeds” and then guess wrong! We have been identified as all kinds of breeds by the announcers!

There are still a number of CB breeders on the east coast. Checking the CBHSNA website will locate breeders for you. Colonial Williamsburg has a CB breeding program using a wide spread of genetics, in their rare breeds program. They sell their young stock if you are looking for Clevelands and partbred Clevelands. They have working Clevelands pulling the antique vehicles thru Williamsburg, ridden Clevelands as mounts for historic townspeople on the streets .

I have not run into any genetic issues, but our horses are CB partbreds, not Purebred Clevelands. We need speed and the lighter body to shed heat fast at Vet Check during our 10 minute recovery time. We drive Multiples, have to get them ALL cooled fast! Here in Michigan, Midwest area, heat and humidity can play havoc during cooling of deep-bodied horses like the CB Purebreds, so we stick with our lighter bodied CB Partbreds.

Our CBs are athletes, they can do dressage, jump, Trail ride, Fox Hunt, go under western tack, do 4H or Pony Club, games, and be good at all those things. Our young horses who did not drive well, did excellently in their new careers of dressage, Eventing, All-Rounder for a young lady. They are fun to live with and use!


Clevies and CB crosses are wonderful!!!
I’m on my 2nd generation- my screen name was my homebred 1/2CB-1/2TB (prelim eventer, 3rd level dressage and 3’9" jumper),and my avatar is her [also homebred] daughter and is 1/4CB-3/4TB.
Funnily enough, most of the horses (eventers) I’ve most admired over the years, I found out later, had a percentage of CB in them, lol!


@Weixiao The loss of Statesman hit us hard back then. We called for shipped seman that same morning and heard they had lost him! It was kind of “What do we do now! Mare is going to be ready soon!!” We called Jeanne McDonald with her Oldenburg stallion, Tantris, whom we had used before. Told her about our problem and she got a shipment out to us. We got a lovely colt from that breeding that we still have and use.

That nick of Tantris on our Fryup Marvel (Cleveland stallion in New England) daughters produced three EXCELLENT geldings for us. All amazing movers, great minds, willing workers. Two got driven and one went on to a dressage career. He (our favorite of course!) was just too tall (18H), stride length was too big to match the other horses. He has taken excellent care of his elderly owner all these years and she brags him up for his dressage skills in competition.