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.’

~~~

Hackney Horse Society UK:

Rare Breeds Survival Trust: 

Photographs: BNPS.CO.UK

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

Advertisements

Thwaites Brewery Bring Back Famed Shires for Deliveries

The world famous Shire horses of Thwaites Brewery
are back in harness.

~~~

Thwaites, the oldest surviving brewery in Lancashire, England started brewing in 1807 and are celebrating over 200 glorious years.

The British brewery has decided to go back to using horses for deliveries within a few kilometres of its brewery.

The giant shire horses used for promotional work for the Daniel Thwaites brewery are back in harness in Blackburn and delivering ale to local pubs.

“We are always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint,” said the brewery’s transport operations manager Emma Green.

“It is great to see the Shires out again on the roads around town.”

Horses have not been used in the delivery of beer by the brewery for five years. The Thwaites horses have spent the last few years winning awards on the show circuit and doing promotional work.

Their public appearances will continue, but the company hope the shires will also be able to do their day jobs in between.

“We are aiming to get them out delivering within a mile or two’s radius of the stables when we can fit it in to their busy schedule,” says Emma.

“Deliveries by horse-drawn dray finished about five years ago when we moved distribution off-site.”

Thwaites ended horse deliveries in the 1920s when the company switched to motor transport. They were reintroduced in 1960’s.

It was a decision that has become a major landmark for the Brewery as the fame of the Thwaites Shires has spread throughout the country, embodying the traditional values that are such an important part of the company’s heritage.

The brewery has even more reasons to be proud of its horses. They swept the board at the recent National Shire Horse Spring Show, taking four titles and six trophies.

THE world-famous Thwaites Shire Horses emerged triumphant at another prestigious national competition….to win plaudits from none other than HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

Prince Philip made the official presentation when the Thwaites’ team took the top honours at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.

The Thwaites horses, Classic, Royal, Daniel and Star, were voted outright winners in the heavy horse class at the event staged to honour the 100th anniversary of the British Food and Beverage Industry.

The success followed hot on the heels of Thwaites being named Champions of England at the National Shire Horse Spring Show in Peterborough – for the fourth time in six years.

After winning the four-horse Team Class, Thwaites’ stable stars went on to claim the overall Heavy Horse Turnout Championship.

The shire horses are kept very busy and are in great demand at shows, carnivals and promotional events all over the country. They can be seen regularly in the town centre delivering to pubs and exercising in addition to their busy schedule.

~~~

Link: About the Thwaites Shire Horses

News Link:

Video: Thwaites Shire Horses

Ponies Thunder Through Farm Show Carriage Races

carriage-race-photo-sean-simmers.jpg

Dana Bright (left) and Ann Gardner ride in the
Pennsylvania carriage racing competition.  

~~~

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
January, 2008

Like a modern-day Ben Hur, Miranda Cadwell drew herself erect in her chariot-like carriage and urged her ponies to speed around obstacles.

Rambo and Toby, a pair of Welsh ponies, raced around the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex Large Arena this past January.

They sped around eight barrels, being careful not to knock off the rubber ducks on top, and around eight raised wooden structures at the other end of the arena, leaving the ducks standing.

Then they galloped down the home stretch into first place and into the hearts of 6,000 wildly cheering fans at this unique equestrian event at the 92nd Pennsylvania State Farm Show.

“This was great,” said Cadwell of Southern Pines, N.C. “It’s a real adrenaline rush.”

The Farm Show offers the nation’s only indoor Arena Carriage Racing, said Paul Martin, event organizer and announcer. He said that its usually done outside.

pairhorsespalmerandmunt.jpg

These Dutch Gelderlanders, “Mickie and Janet”, driven by Ronda Palmer and navigated by Roy Munt, placed second in the Pair Horses division. The husband and wife pair has been involved in numerous competitions all over the world. 
~~~

Drivers sit in the front and control the reins to guide the horses. Navigators ride the back, throwing their weight from side to side to counterbalance the turns.

Bruce Rappoport, another event organizer, said carriage racing involves one or two horses or ponies racing against the clock.

winner-schmitt.jpg

Sarah Schmitt and Glenn Haskell achieved the second best time to win the Reserve Grand Championship.
~~~

Participants in steel marathon carriages use special harnesses to guide the horses through the tight turns needed to navigate the obstacles and hazards in the fastest time.

Seven teams participated in the two day event.

pennsylvania-farm-carriage-races.jpg 

Driver Dana Bright and navigator Melinda Russell
blur through the starting line.
~~~

“We love this,” said Dana Bright of Felton, nodding at her navigator, Ann Gardner and her Welsh ponies.

People laughed when they saw Ben and Jerry, a pair of bright pink stuffed toy pigs, on the back of their carriage. People howled when Jerry tumbled off during the race.

The crowd clearly loved Miranda Cadwell and her younger sister, Keady.

Miranda Cadwell last summer became the world leader in the sport, earning the gold medal at the World Pony Driving Championship in Denmark.

On Tuesday, she drove her team as if her life depended on it, leaving rushing air and flying dirt in their wake.

When the race ended, Miranda Cadwell won first place in the pair of ponies division, Keady Cadwell won first place in pair of horses.

“We push each other to do better,” Keady Cadwell said.

A must-see is the video listed below.

~~~

Race Video:  
Carriage Races, Pennsylvania Farm Show

~~~

News Link:   Pennsylvania State Agriculture Site

News Link:   The Patriot News