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The Hackney Horse found its beginning as a breed In 1755 with the birth of Old Shales, a son of the early Thoroughbred stallion Blaze.
Old Shales is credited as the Hackney foundation sire and within 50 years of his birth the breed was established, a happy product of crossing England’s trotting stock (Norfolk Trotters) with Thoroughbreds.
The term hackney was used from Medieval times to designate a type of sound riding horse who trotted well, with great endurance. Early England required horses who could stand up to a day’s hunting just as easily as taking a farmer to market. The Hackney Horse began as is the case with most light horse breeds today, when local riding horses who could trot were crossed with imported Arabians, for refinement. Then came, in the course of history, a great need for a horse that could draw coaches with speed on the improved road systems.
Heavy draught animals were no longer sufficient for all jobs as the roads had a better surface and horses could really move out. The Hackney breed fulfilled the need for speed and stamina, and by his nature provided great style.
The style of the Hackney Horse as a very specific type, became quickly and highly valued, as is always the case when humans are involved with horses, and early crosses of the Trotter and Thoroughbred produced a few individuals who were outstanding in desired characteristics and who could breed on. The Hackney Stud Book was founded by a society of that same name as early as 1883.
With the ongoing growth of good connecting road systems, this selectively bred horse was created at the right time for the right job, and very quickly everyone’s top horse of choice became the Hackney Horse.
As early at the late 1800’s the Hackney Horse was being imported to American in great numbers and with attention was also paid to top breeding strains. The exportation of this breed from England continued to be huge and Hackney breeding stock has influenced many other breeds such as: Morgans, Saddlebreds, Holsteins, Dutch Warm Bloods, Gelderlanders, and others. They have been crossed to produce many sport horses and show jumpers.
It appears that when outcrossed the Hackney blood influences strongly and is mostly dominant.
Hackneys were also imported from American back to England and for this reason the stock in both countries is closer than with some other breeds.
Hackney carriage horses became a mark of high status. With his distinctive and spectacular height of action both fore and hind, free shoulder action, and ground covering stride; with his elegance of build, small head and ears, compact body, and round rib all driven by muscled thighs and quarters this breed was recognized as perfect for the job humans required and remains so to this day.<br. With such action also being straight and true, the entire effect is extremely brilliant plus the Hackney gets the job done, with no quit in him.
The Hackney Horse of today retains a crown of success in any driving competition around the world as the most incredible of all show harness horses.