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.
Blue Ridge Hunt Masters, staff, and hounds set the scene for a fantastic day of hunting through the fields at Farnley and neighboring properties. The Mid-Atlantic Cleveland Bay Network started its annual foxhunting reunion for Cleveland Bay horses in 2009 near Frederick, Maryland with the New Market–Middletown Valley Hounds. Each year, approximately twenty of these grand horses gather to celebrate their heritage. This year foxhunters traveled from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina to participate. Nine of the Cleveland Bays were new to this annual celebration of the breed.
Cleveland Bays have been in America since the late 1700s when Lord Dunmore, the last Colonial Governor of Virginia, brought one of his Cleveland Bay horses from England. The year 1820 marked the first commercial importation of a Cleveland Bay stallion upon the arrival of Exile at John Carroll’s estate south of Frederick, Maryland. In the 1850s, Col. Dulany, MFH of the Piedmont Fox Hounds, imported his noted Cleveland Bay stallion Scrivington to Welbourne in Upperville, Virginia. Dulany inaugurated the Upperville Horse Show to showcase his offspring. The breed gained favor in the Mid-West and West through the later 1800s, and the celebrated “Buffalo Bill” Cody established a breeding program on his Scouts Nest Ranch in Nebraska in 1897. Mechanization of farming and WWI escalated the decline of the breed, and today fewer than 800 purebred Cleveland Bays remain in the world.
The Mid-Atlantic Cleveland Bay Network organizes a series of shows each summer, including a Cleveland Bay Division at the Upperville and Warrenton Horse Shows, and a dedicated Cleveland Bay Hunter Show as part of the Howard County (MD) Fair. The group also sponsors horses to appear at expos and other public displays. Click for additional information about the Cleveland Bay horse.
Posted December 23, 2019