By Marcia Brody
Twelve of the seventeen Cleveland Bay purebreds and crosses pose at the annual Cleveland Bay reunion before Farnley house in White Post, Virginia. / Karen Kandra photo
Cleveland Bay owners, breeders, and fanciers were privileged to travel back in time to recreate the heyday of this handsome, versatile, yet endangered breed of equine on November 16, 2019. The reunion combined with a meeting of the Blue Ridge Hunt is so appropriate at Farnley Farm in White Post, Virginia.
In the 1930s and 1940s the late Alexander Mackay-Smith bred both pure Cleveland Bay horses and partbreds at Farnley for use as field hunters. He remains the only North American breeder to have exported a stallion back to the UK from whence the breed originated. His stallion, Farnley Exchange, still appears in the pedigrees of most Cleveland Bays living in the world today.
Mackay-Smith’s daughter, Hetty Mackay-Smith Abeles, and her family welcomed the Blue Ridge Hunt subscribers, guests, and seventeen purebred and partbred Cleveland Bays to Farnley for the annual event. Mackay-Smith was a Master of Blue Ridge in the mid-twentieth century. Mrs Abeles and her family continue to breed their well-known Farnley Ponies there, based on bloodlines started and proven as early as the 1930s.