The Hackney Horse

The name Hackney means horse. The Hackney Horse was first brought to the United States in the 1800’s. However, most of the Hackneys in the United States today are actually ponies.

The Hackney Horse is the Aristocrat of the show ring. This beautiful animal is a harness horse, used for pulling carriages or wagons. Hackneys can be driven alone, as a pair, or a foursome. They are also shown with a saddle.

The Hackney is shown in four different events. The first is the Cob Tail, in this event the ponies height is between 12.2 hands – 14.2 hands. The tail is shortened and their mane is braided. The next event is called the Long Tail, in this event, the Hackney has a long tail and mane and the pony must stand under 12.2 hands tall.

The Hackney can be shown in the Roadster class in this event, they are judged at a jog, trot, road gait and full speed. The last class is Pleasure, the Hackney has unbraided manes and tails, they are driven for pleasure in this event.

The Hackney stands about 58 inches to the withers, about 14.2 hands tall, even though they are a small horse, the Hackney is strong. They have a quick pace and will step out. The coat colors range from chestnut, brown, black and bay. The Hackney may have white stockings.

The Hackney is a highly intelligent, sound and loving animal. They are not expensive to buy or feed, and they do not take up much space because they are a smaller horse. They make the perfect horse for a child or an adult.

Hackney Horses – History

Hackney Horses originated in England. Their ancestors were highly valuable for the particularly comfortable trot or amble. As for riding animals they were especially ridden by noblemen. Now reflecting on those days, I realize they were also used as light cavalry and driving horses.

At the beginning of the 18th century, this native horse was crossed with the imported Arabian stallion, which was adding a little refinement to the breed and took nothing away. Breeders concentrated their efforts on producing strong harness animals, possessing stamina and soundness and good horsemanship was required.

When horse-drawn vehicles became popular, the demand came for showier horses with lofty knee action and high head carriage. The flashy and smart Hackney Horse became the status symbol. Many horse breeds include large amounts of Hackney blood (Holsteins, Gelderlanders, Saddlebreds, Dutch Warm Bloods, Morgans, etc.), which appears to influence rather than be influenced. Check out also this Gelderland Horse video:

At the beginning of our 20th century, huge numbers of Hackney Horses were exported across the planet. They took part in the World War I as artillery horses and cavalry mounts. Between the wars, we saw a massive growth in the show Hackney Horses that were professionally trained.

With the growing popularity of the motorcars, Hackney breeding was deemed as being non-essential. Today Hackney Horses are valued as perfect show jumpers and are bred primarily for the show ring though be careful not to communicate too much with the owners; you might get a little frustrated.

Hackney Horses – Personality

Hackney Horses are spirited, intelligent, dynamic, sound and loving. Hackney ponies are strong, with a quick pace. Hackney Horses are the highest naturally stepping horses in the world. Hackney Horses and Ponies are called the aristocrats of the show ring. They are unreachable in conformation, abilities, and temperament. Being docile and easy to train, Hackney Horses make perfect pets.

Hackney Horses – Subspecies

At the end of the 19th century, a Hackney Pony was bred by crossing with the small, spirited Welsh Ponies. It wasn’t just a small Hackney Horse, but an animal with distinct pony character.
Most of the Hackneys in the USA today are ponies.

Height: Ponies are about 58 inches to the withers, under 14 hands tall. Hackney Horses are 14-16 hands tall.
Speed: 19-24 km/h at a trot.
Jumping: Up to 8 feet 2 inches.