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A few weeks ago, Cleveland Bay owners and fanciers privileged a journey back in time to recreate the breed's heyday at Farnley Farm in White Post, Virginia, for the annual Cleveland Bay Hunt. Seventeen pure and part-bred Cleveland Bays gathered for this year’s reunion. The generous hospitality of Hetty Mackay-Smith Abeles and her family, along with the Blue Ridge Hunt’s Joint Masters and Staff, set the scene for a fantastic day of hunting at Farnley and neighboring properties.

Cleveland Bays in America

In the 1930s and 1940s, Alexander Mackay-Smith bred both pure and part-bred Cleveland Bay horses for hunters. He remains the only North American breeder to export a stallion back to the UK. His stallion, Farnley Exchange, still appears in the pedigrees of most Cleveland Bays living in the world today.

Cleveland Bays have been in America since the late 1700s, when Lord Dunmore, the last Royal Governor of Virginia, brought one of his Cleveland Bay horses from England with him. 1820 marked the first commercial importation of a Cleveland Bay stallion, when Exile arrived at John Carroll’s estate south of Frederick, Maryland. In the 1850s, Col. Dulany imported his noted Cleveland Bay stallion Scrivington to Welbourne in Upperville, Virginia, and began the Upperville Horse Show to showcase his offspring. The breed gained favor in the Midwest and West through the late 1800s, and the celebrated "Buffalo Bill" Cody established a breeding program on his Scouts Nest Ranch in Nebraska in 1897. Mechanization of farming and WWI escalated the decline of the breed, and today fewer than 800 purebreds remain in the world.

The Mid-Atlantic Cleveland Bay Network

The Mid-Atlantic Cleveland Bay Network started its annual foxhunting reunion for Cleveland Bay horses in 2009 near Frederick, Maryland, with the New Market – Middletown Valley Hounds. Each year, approximately twenty of the grand bay horses gather to celebrate their heritage. This year participants traveled from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina to participate. Nine horses were participating in their first reunion event.

The Mid-Atlantic Cleveland Bay Network organizes a series of shows each summer, including a Cleveland Bay Division at the Upperville and Warrenton Horse Shows, and a dedicated Cleveland Bay Hunter Show as part of the Howard County Fair in Maryland. The group also sponsors horses to appear at expos and other public displays. For more information, visit www.Facebook.com/MidAtlanticCB.

Cleveland Bay Day 19 1Seventeen purebred and part-bred Cleveland Bays took the spotlight at this year’s annual meet-up with Blue Ridge Hunt at the historic Farnley Farm in White Post, Virginia. Liz Callar Photo.

Cleveland Bay Day 19 2Joanna Barlow on her part-bred gelding, Jackson—the pair enjoy hunting on occasion with Howard County Iron-Bridge Hounds. Jackson is also the reigning high point champion from the Mid-Atlantic Cleveland Bay Show Series. Liz Callar Photo.

Cleveland Bay Day 19 3Peter Cook, of Blue Ridge Hunt, on his purebred gelding Bellthorn Krusader. Liz Callar Photo.

Cleveland Bay Day 19 5Sarah Kirk, of Genessee Valley Hounds, on her purebred gelding BellaVista Chancellor. Liz Callar Photo.

Cleveland Bay Day 19 4Karel Wennink, of Blue Ridge Hunt, on Belladonna Gallardo. Liz Callar Photo.

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