Are Hackney Carriage Horses … History?

Hackney horses were once a common sight in Great Britain as they carried wealthy passengers in grand carriages.

But now the numbers of the famous Hackney horses have fallen so low they have been put on the rare breeds ‘critical’ list.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) says that with the number of female breeders in existence reduced to fewer than 300 the situation is dire.

Breeder Barbara Stockton from The Hackney Horse Society (formed in 1883), said the situation was increasingly desperate.

During the 18th and 19th century, the Hackney horses were in high demand. They were famed for their beauty, high head carriage and lofty knee action.

This was an era of great flamboyance and the ownership of smart and flashy carriage horses was a real status symbol.

Having smart looking Hackney Carriage Horses was the mainstay during that time, when flaunting wealth was a lifestyle.

Hackney horses were bred to be elegant and strong with the power to pull the heavy carriages. They had the ability to keep going for miles at a trot.

The admiration of the early ancestors of the Hackney horses goes back for centuries. They were highly thought of by Henry VII, Henry VIII and Elisabeth I who all passed acts concerning horse breeding and the value of the Hackney. Henry VIII even penalized anyone exporting an animal without authority

In the early 1700’s breeders began to cross the native hackney with Arabian stallions to add some refinement to the breed.

The most important Arabian was the Darley Arabian.  Hackneys can be traced back through the stud book to this horse.

The Darley Arabian

At the beginning of the 1900s large numbers of Hackneys were still being exported all over the World to places such as America, Australia, South Africa and Argentina as well as the rest of Europe.

Hackney classes at large horse shows were proving popular. The Hackney horses also played an important part in the First World War as cavalry mounts and artillery horses.

Once considered the English Taxi, the demand for Hackney horses was soon to end.

By the beginning of the 20th century the car had arrived and the Hackneys began to be replaced by motorized vehicles.  Hackney horses were deemed unable to contribute to society and declined considerably.

The Hackney then took on a new role as show horses, but in the long-term the breed cannot survive only for the show rings.

Although usually considered carriage horses, the Hackney horses with their stamina, soundness and intelligence can be enjoyed in many other ways, including cart driving, dressage, show jumping and pleasure riding.

The Hackney horses are of particular use for the disabled as a carriage horse, and for those who cannot ride a horse in the usual way.

As Barbara Stockton states, under the revised Rare Breeds Survival Trusts listing, the Hackney Breed has now sadly been categorized as “critical”.

In the equine world a breed with fewer than 3,000 females is put on the watch list and when there are fewer than 300 they enter the critical stage.

According to Ms. Stockton, ‘being in a recession makes it difficult to build up numbers and breeders are declining in number’.

‘This should be very concerning for all devotees of the Hackney Horses, especially as the Hackney has such a long and proud heritage’.

‘Flying Childers’ one of the most famous early Hackneys

‘The word needs spreading that, although spectacular harness horses, they are also extremely versatile and make great riding horses.’

‘If you have ever had anything to do with Hackneys, either as an owner or spectator, if you have thrilled to see these magnificent horses producing their athletic movement, or enjoyed their elegance, the breed needs your support now.’

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Hackney Horse Society UK:

Rare Breeds Survival Trust: 

Photographs: BNPS.CO.UK

Story Sources:
Hackney Horse Society
Rare Breeds Survival Trust
Mail Online

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What If Your Horse Is Stolen?

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Debi Metcalfe reunited with
her stolen horse “Idaho”.

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If your horse is stolen go directly to:
Stolen Horse International at
NetPosse.com

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A Shelby, North Carolina  woman
has made it her mission to find stolen horses.

Debi Metcalfe and her husband, Harold, lost a family member. Their horse, Idaho, was horse-napped, in broad day light from their pasture.

A year later, they found Idaho in Tennessee.

This is how Stolen Horse International and NetPosse.com was born and has now celebrated over 10 years of success.

The website has Idaho Alerts which are similar to AMBER Alerts for missing children where members are alerted when a horse, tack or even trailers are stolen.

An estimated 40,000 horses are stolen each year in the United States.

During the Metcalfes’ search, someone set up a Web space for the couple and after finding their horse, they decided to help out other people on the Web. That’s how her site NetPosse.com was started.

“We got so much help, I thought I owed it back,” she said.

Since founding her organization, Debi has written a book and been part of television news stories, newspaper and magazine articles and her expertise was used on Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” in August.

She appeared as the cover story on The Gaited Horse magazine in an edition that sold out and was most recently featured on “Weekend America,” a Public Broadcasting radio show.

We do a lot more than stolen horses,” Debi said. “That’s how we were started, but we do so much more now.”

Her priority is working with people whose horses are missing first. That comes ahead of fundraising and other functions.

“We try to stress that even if the horse is not found alive and well, it’s better to know than have questions,” she said.

Inspiration … Debi has empathy for the people she helps.

On the NetPosse site is a list of stolen or missing horses across the United States. Also included are photos, dates and current status.

Below are just two of the many horses that have been stolen. 
For complete listings:  Click here:

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Stolen:  LPS Mr. Jalapeno
Bay Morgan Gelding Missing in California suspected to be in Arizona – Feb. 6, 2007

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Stolen:
Valentino
Fleabitten Grey Arabian Gelding Stolen after dark from Therapy Progam in Newton County, Georgia – Feb. 3, 2008

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If you have a horse that has been stolen or strangely disappeared, do not hesitate.  Contact NetPosse.com immediately.

If you recognize the horses pictured above, click on the name of the horse for more information.

It takes everyone working together to keep our horses safe and in their own homes.

 

Super Pony With The Heart Of A Winner

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 “Teddy” and Karen O’Connor win the Gold
at 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil

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Good things are said to come in small packages. And “Super Pony” Theodore O’Connor proves it.

Teddy, also known as the Flying Pony is the exciting new star of a tough equestrian sport called eventing.

At 14.1 hands high — a little more than 56 inches at the top of his shoulder — this mighty midget is a hair short of the height of a horse. But that hasn’t stopped him from winning big — really big.

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Teddy thrilled the horse world by winning an Individual Gold Medal and helping the United States win the Team Gold at the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil this past July.

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If he continues to perform at this level over the winter in Florida and into the spring, he and his rider, Karen O’Connor, of The Plains, Va., could make the U.S. Olympic equestrian team next year and travel to Beijing.

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Teddy once again displayed his amazing athletic ability, under the skillful guidance of his Olympic veteran rider, to the delight of their growing throng of international fans.

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Teddy, Karen’s bionic pony partner, is a 14.2h sport pony, bred by P. Wynn Norman. “He doesn’t know he’s small,”   says Karen.

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He has tremendous springs and a huge jump, making even the most difficult combinations look like simple gymnastics.

Teddy is 3/4 Thoroughbred, 1/8 Arabian, and 1/8 Shetland Pony and, with Karen on board, thinks all things are possible!

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Eventing is a demanding three-part test of horse and rider.

Part I is usually dressage. The goal is to make a difficult set of carefully controlled movements look simple. It requires precision, balance and grace.

Part II is usually cross-country, which involves 25 to 40 jumps strung across a course of several miles. Cross-country showcases strength, endurance and smarts.

Part III is show-jumping, which is done in a ring. This measures speed, nimbleness and accuracy.

In all three areas, Teddy makes up for his size with something that can’t be measured in inches: a huge heart.

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“It doesn’t cross his mind that it can’t be done,” says O’Connor, even though Teddy is so small he sometimes can’t see what’s on the other side of a cross-country jump.

As Teddy approaches a jump that might be four feet high and 6 1/2 feet wide, O’Connor’s job is to keep him “wanting to be careful but also brave and confident.”

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Eventing takes a lot of training, which takes a lot of time. Many horses in the sport are teen-agers. Teddy, a chestnut gelding, is 12.

Several trainers passed on a chance to work with Teddy because they thought of him as a kid’s mount. O’Connor saw past his size to his potential. The result is a champion pairing that’s the talk of the eventing circuit.

Teddy comes from a breeder who has been experimenting with a mix of thoroughbreds, Arabian horses and Shetland ponies. Although Teddy is worth $300,000 to $400,000, the group that owns him isn’t looking to make money; it just wants to support his career.

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O’Connor’s husband, 2000 Olympic gold-medalist David O’Connor, compares Teddy to a wide receiver in football or “a 5-7 point guard” in basketball.

Teddy beats much larger competition because he is so quick, intelligent and athletic, David O’Connor says.

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 His wife agrees. “Size is never going to stop Teddy,” she says. “He feels like a giant out there.”

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Update
Farewell, Teddy
May 29, 2008

News Link: Washington Post

Link: O’Connor Event Team

Link:  Photographs from O’Connor Pan Am Gallery