This article kindly supplied by Colin Green, Past President of the CBHS
For most people their first experience of the Cleveland Breed is with a part bred Cleveland Bay. The part bred can be a truly stunning animal whether crossed with a Thoroughbred – which is the most frequent crossing – or with almost any other breed. Just about all have been tried and there is much to be said for the variety of crossings that do exist for they can produce all types and sizes for all disciplines and ages of rider or driver. They are beautiful looking animals and it is thought that because the two breeds have the same origins back in the 17th Century, they ‘nick’ together well complimenting each other to great benefit.
As stated, the most frequently used cross is the TB cross and this is usually with the Cleveland Bay stallion used on the TB mare and is believed by most to be an ideal way of producing general riding horses as well as specialist horses for particular disciplines. Whilst half bred Clevelands can compete very competently at eventing, it is suggested that for the higher levels of this sport a further cross with the Thoroughbred will greatly increase the speed whilst maintaining a good degree of the soundness and sense.
Clevelands are again making a name for themselves in dressage as the CB stallion naturally passes on the power and strength desired and are temperamentally ideally suited to this discipline. Enthusiasts will know of Arun Tor the Grand Prix dressage horse, which illustrates the sort qualities that the Cleveland contributes.
The jumping ability of the Cleveland is legendary and generations of equestrian folk have grown up seeing the Smith family, as well as others, achieve the highest accolades in show jumping often in their hey day using Cleveland cross horses.
The great majority of part breds though are used for private riding and at this they excel as they can be sporty but at the same time show sense and sanity which are essential qualities in these days of restricted riding and the forced use of busy and dangerous roads. Many part bred Clevelands are also highly respected in the hunting field where soundness, stamina and jumping ability are premium qualities. Some hunt staff specifically search out Clevelands when looking to replace their rides as they so perfectly suit their purposes.
The pure bred Cleveland Bay excels as a driving horse as one would expect for a breed that is steeped in the history of driving and coaching, but the Part-Bred has also to be seriously considered for this activity. Most famously, the Duke of Edinburgh drove the H M The Queen’s team of Cleveland crosses, which in this case were crossed with the Oldenburg breed. Going back into history, prior to railways and motor cars the most famous and desirable of all, the Yorkshire Coach Horse, was a blend of Cleveland and Thoroughbred. ‘Yorkshire Coach Horses’ the name identified with this cross, were exported all over the world where they were recognized as outstanding horses for the job with buyers repeatedly coming back for more.
All in all the Cleveland cross is a most desirable animal, is very versatile, has a most agreeable temperament and is much sought after. They are difficult to find as owners are reluctant to part with such sound and friendly companions.