By Norman Fine
Fifteen Cleveland Bays convened for a celebration of the breed at a special meeting of the Blue Ridge foxhounds at Farnley. / Matthew Klein photo
How fitting that a large contingent of Cleveland Bay horses should convene at Farnley Farm for a special foxhunt with the Blue Ridge Hunt on Saturday, November 19, 2011.
The late Alexander Mackay-Smith, a past Master of the Blue Ridge, and his wife Joan purchased Farnley, near White Post, Virginia, in the 1930s. During Mackay-Smith’s travels in England over that decade he decided that the Cleveland Bay horse made the ideal field hunter. He imported and bred Cleveland Bays and introduced the breed to foxhunters and to other horsemen in this country.
Today the breed is dangerously rare, with only about five hundred purebreds in the world and less than two hundred in North America.