The Cleveland Bay: All About These Only-Bay Horses

The Cleveland Bay is a large breed of horse that, as you might guess from their name, come only in the color bay. These horses are well known for a variety of things but specialize in driving and show jumping. This breed is popular in many different countries for its successes in the disciplines it competes in. They also do great when crossed with other breeds.

What Is A Cleveland Bay?

The Cleveland Bay is a warmblooded breed of horse known for its beauty and versatility. The Cleveland Bay can not only look great when driving a cart, but they also have an excellent natural jump and are becoming increasingly popular as showjumping horses. The Cleveland Bay, as their name might suggest, can only come in the bay coat color. These horses are large in size as well and usually stand over 16 hands high.

How Big Are Cleveland Bay Horses?

The Cleveland Bay is a large breed of horse who stands much taller than other breeds with an average height between 16 and 16.2 hands high. Some of these horses are even known to stand well over 17 hands high in some cases.

These horses have a naturally stocky build on top of their great height. Because of this, these horses are pretty heavy and weigh anywhere from 1,400 to 1,500 pounds (635 to 680 kilograms).

What Colors Can Cleveland Bays Come In?

The Cleveland Bay Breed can only be bay. The different shades of bay that these horses can be include:

  • Blood Bay
  • Black Bay
  • Dark Bay
  • Light Bay

Part of what makes these horses so unique is the fact that they can’t be any other colors.

What Type Of Horse Is The Cleveland Bay?

The Cleveland Bay is a warmblooded breed of horse. They are classified as warmblooded because they are too heavy and built to be considered a hotblooded horse and too light and athletic to be considered a coldblooded horse.

The History Of the Cleveland Bay Horse Breed

The Cleveland Bay is a horse breed who has its roots in the country of England. The history of this breed dates back all the way to the MIddle Ages.

The original Cleveland Bay was a heavy breed of horse. This might be hard to believe seeing how agile the modern Cleveland Bay is. In order to lighten the breed and make them more useful for more things, some Arabian bloodlines were added to do this.

Not only were Arabian bloodlines added, but Andalusian blood was also added to lighten, improve, and better the conformation of the breed.

How To Identify the Cleveland Bay: Traits & Characteristics

You can identify this breed by looking at a number of different traits and characteristics that these horses carry. The unique traits that these horses have can be seen when looking at the horse’s:

Coat Color

One of the key features of these horses is the fact that they are only bay. There are actually no exceptions to this all-bay rule which is what makes their coat color one of their defining characteristics.


The Cleveland Bay is built pretty stocky but their features are also proportionate. They have the build comparable to that of many warm-blooded breeds in the sense that they are heavy, but still athletic and agile.


One of the things that makes these large bay horses stand out from other warmbloods is their full round hindquarters. This breed is known and recognized for having large round hindquarters which give them the power to jump.


The neck of this horse is thick, strong, and arched. They look magnificent in the dressage ring and part of this is because of how well they naturally carry their neck.


One way to help identify the Cleveland Bay is the shape of their head and nose. Like many other breeds, the Cleveland bay has what is known as a roman profile. A roman profile just means that the horse’s nose is rounded and slightly protrudes from their face. The Cleveland Bay’s nose is convex which is essentially the same thing as a roman profile.

These horses also have a large head. Many breeds that have large heads often look unproportionate, but this is not the case with the Cleveland Bay. These horses fit their heads and every part about them seems to fit and appears to be proportionate.

What Are Cleveland Bays Used For & Good At?


The Cleveland Bay and Cleveland Bay crosses are becoming more and more popular in the showjumping world. These horses have a great natural jumping ability and put their strong hindquarters to work to clear fences and jump walls with ease.


One of the original uses for this breed was for driving carts and carriages, and still to this day there are Cleveland Bays who are used for this. They are still used because they really excel in this discipline.

General Riding

As these horses grow in popularity, they are slowly getting more and more well known as general riding horses. These horses not only look great under saddle, but they also work well under saddle too.


Cleveland Bays are sometimes seen in fields pulling plows or pulling carts for farmers. They are a tough, hard working breed which is what makes them so good for farmwork

Fox Hunting

In Europe, there are many people who participate in a sport known as fox hunting. In the fox hunting sport, riders will jump fences and work with hounds to kill foxes making a nuisance of themselves at local farms. This horse breed is sometimes used for hunting because of its ability to jump and its enjoyment of the sport.

What Is The Average Lifespan Of This Breed?

Cleveland Bay horses live so much longer than other warmbloods. Did you know that the average lifespan of this breed 30 to 35 years? That is a number between five and ten years more than the average horse!

Hailey Sipila

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

Recent Posts