Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Hackney   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Hackney is a British trotting breed known for its high-stepping trot, and for its excellent performance in harness shows.

Trotting horses existed in England since the Middle Ages, as well as the word "hackney" (haquene'e in French,) which meant "a horse with comfortable trot or amble". At that time, there were two trotter breeds: the first was the Norfolk Trotter, also known as Norfolk Roadster, which was a strong, cob-like horse. The second was the Yorkshire Coach horse, also called, at that time, Yorkshire Hackney, which had a more elegant build.

Around 1755, a Thoroughbred stallion named Blaze was crossed with a trotter mare. The foal, named Original Shales, grew to be a sire of Norfolk Trotters. Among his descendants were the stallions Wroot's Pretender and Norfolk Phenomenon, both of whom were born during the first quarter of the 19th century. These two stallions, who had Thoroughbred blood in them, were bought by Robert Ramsdale and his son Philip, who decided to cross them with Yorkshire Coach mares. This cross created the Hackney breed which we know today.

Ever since they were created, Hackney horses moved in an energetic manner characterized by a high head-carriage, and high-stepping gaits with a high knee-action. This form of movement, which became the latest fashion in the late 18th century, made the Hackney breed extremely popular. During the 19th century, Hackney horses were exported all over the world, and influenced both European and American breeds, the most notable of which was the American Standardbred breed, which became the fastest trotting breed in the world.

In 1872, a man named Christopher Wilson crossed a Norfolk/Yorkshire trotter stallion, named Sir George, with Fell Pony mares in order to create a pony version of the Hackney breed. The resulting ponies, which combined the action of the Hackney with a pony-like appearance and a small size, became extremely popular for pulling small carriages. They were exported all over the world, similarly to their horse-sized counterparts.

The flashy appearance and attitude of the Hackney turned it into an excellent show horse, especially when it comes to harness events. During the 20th century, when the need for carriage horses decreased, it was its talent in the show-ring that saved the Hackney breed from extinction. Today, this breed is primarily used for harness shows. Despite seeming like a popular breed, the Hackney is actually a rare breed in a critical population.

Hackney horses and ponies come in the colors of black, brown, bay, and chestnut. They often have white markings, including on their belly. In addition, Hackneys that were bred in Argentina sometimes have a manchado coat. Hackney horses stand between 14hh and 16.2hh, and Hackney ponies stand between 12hh and 14.1hh.

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