Recent studies by Lincoln and Nottingham Trent Universities found that there are only a handful of maternal ancestry lines existing in the present-day global Cleveland Bay horse population. The study team comprised Dell and Mark Curry, with Lincoln University; and Kelly Yarnell, Gareth Starbuck and Philippe Wilson, with Nottingham Trent University.
The Cleveland Bay was once a very popular breed for use in farming, carriage driving and later as a war horse but in today’s world we don’t see them very often. Dell and his colleagues noted that, even when the breed society was formed in 1884, the Cleveland Bay was in decline.
“Subsequent losses in two world wars, and increasing mechanisation in transport and on land, meant that by the middle of the 20th century the breed was very close to extinction, with only four purebred stallions remaining.”
The efforts of a few dedicated breeders, including Queen Elizabeth II, brought the Cleveland Bay horse back from the brink of extinction, they said.
Dell and his colleagues said the results of their research provide important information on the origins of the Cleveland Bay horse and represent a valuable tool for conservation purposes.