Key Characteristics

  • A typical Cleveland Bay stands 16.0 h.h. to 16.2 h.h. and is solid bay in colour, with no white with the possible exception of a very small star.
  • The body is wide and deep; the back is not too long, and strong with muscular loins; the shoulders are sloping, deep and muscular.
  • The quarters are level, powerful, long and oval, with the tail springing well from the quarters.
  • The head is bold and not too small, well carried on a long lean neck.
  • Eyes are large, well set and kindly in expression, and the ears are large and fine.
  • One of the most important features of the breed are the feet, which must be strong and blue in colour.
  • Feet that are shallow or narrow are undesirable.


  • The Cleveland Bay horse is an extremely old British breed which can be traced back to the Chapman horse of the 17th century.
  • Initially bred in the Cleveland Hills, they were used by farmers on the land, for riding and as pack animals.
  • In the days when the wealth of the country depended on wool, strong short-backed Clevelands carried heavy loads from farms to the mills in the north. As times changed, demands for a taller, faster animals were met through breeding and selection, and the breed was changed into the excellent carriage horse for which Yorkshire was famed.
  • Later, the coming of mechanisation undermined the status of the horse and the breed's popularity declined.
  • Today the clean-legged Cleveland Bay is favoured by the Royal Courts and as a coach horse. 


the breed is very versatilty and is often seen competing in a variety of disciplines. As well as the pedigree breed, Cleveland Bays have been widely crossed with Thoroughbreds to produce quality working hunters.

Breed Society

For more information contact The Cleveland Bay Horse Society