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There is a very long history of Cleveland Bays in America. The Cleveland Bays were first imported into the United States during the early 1800's with the first stallions being imported to Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia. After these initial imports, the horses began to be imported into the Midwest.
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The Cleveland Bay horses were originally imported to be used as coach horses. They were also sought to improve on the current native stock. There were many different states in the west that began to utilize the Cleveland Bay stallions in their breeding programs with their range horses. The Cleveland Bays were noted for their staying power and that they were easy to keep. Their size also made them a perfect match for the cattle that were classified as big. However, since so many of the purebred horses were being used to improve the stock base, the purebred Cleveland Bays soon died out.
In the late 1800's, there was a very large company in the Midwest that was a major importer and exporter of various horse breeds, including the Cleveland Bay. In due time the company went bankrupt and more than one thousand Cleveland Bay horses were released onto the Great Plains.
It was later that Buffalo Bill Cody specifically chose the Cleveland Bay for use in his Wild West show. During a trip to England, Buffalo Bill was introduced to the Cleveland Bay horses. After seeing them in a performance for Queen Victoria, he decided to bring several of the horses back to America with him. Their main job would be to pull the large Conestoga wagon for his Wild West show. He chose one of the stallions to become his trick horse, which he called Pop.
In 1885, The Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America was founded. By 1907, there were two thousand mares and stallions registered with the society. As the world began to become more mechanical, interest began to wane in the Cleveland Bay. They were mainly seen as superb horses for pulling coaches. However, the interest was briefly revived by Alexander Mackay-Smith in the 1930s. He was a famed horse breeder who was also an advocate for the equine animals. As the founder of the United States Pony Club, he was responsible for bringing the Cleveland Bay into modern America.
Alexander Mackay-Smith went to Germany and Paris in 1929 to look for quality horse stock to be used as hunters in North America. While he was in Germany, the manger at the Celle Stud advised him that he might find the horses he was seeking through the Cleveland Bay Horse Society in the United Kingdom. He imported several of the horses during the 1930's and 1940's. He purchased Cleveland Bay mares from every line and the colt Cleveland Farnley.
There are approximately 130 purebred Cleveland Bay horses in the United States and Canada today. There are also many partial breed Cleveland Bays that compete in all of the disciplines of horsemanship. Any of the horses which are sired by a pure bred, licensed Cleveland Bay stallion can be registered with the Cleveland Bay Horse Society. These horses can also be included in the stud book.
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