The Hackney: All About This High-Stepping Driving Breed


The hackney is a breed of horse that is prized for its beauty and high stepping front action. These little horses are known for its success as a driving horse and is mainly seen in front of a cart or buggy. These horses, despite their beauty, are a dying breed and sadly they land on the list of the top 10 most endangered horses. This amazing breed though is still around and its sheer beauty still stuns audiences around the globe.

In this guide I will discuss:

  • What the hackney is
  • Basic Information about the breed
  • How large they are
  • What colors they can be
  • The history of the breed
  • What the hackney is used for and good at
  • The average lifespan of the breed
  • Whether or not the breed is endangered
  • Fun facts on the hackney breed

What is a Hackney?

The hackney is a breed of horse that is known for its impressive front action and high stepping gaits. These small horses are primarily used as carriage and driving horses and are most commonly seen pulling a buggy or a cart. Though sad but true, these horses are classified as one of the top 10 most endangered horse breeds in the world. These beautiful horses have their origins in Britain where they still to this day show off their impressive driving abilities.

Basic Breed Information

Heightbetween 14 and 15.3 hands high
Weightaround 1,000 pounds (455 Kilograms)
Acceptable Colorsbay, black, gray, or chestnut (bay being most common)
Country of OriginBritain
TypeHotblooded

How Large is the Hackney?

The Hackney has a pony type and a horse type depending on the height of the breed members. On average, hackneys will measure to be between 14 and 15.3 hands high. If a Hackney stands at 14.2 hands high or less it is considered a pony.

On average, these horses weigh around 1,000 pounds, or 455 Kilograms. Their weight makes them considered average when it comes to the weight and size of horses.

What Coat Colors Can Hackneys Have?

Hackneys can be any of the 4 solid coat colors found in most horse breeds. The colors that these horses can be include:

  • Bay
  • Gray
  • Black
  • Chestnut

Though these horses can be any of these colors, they are most commonly seen as bay.

The History of the Hackney

The Hackney has a very unique history, one that doesn’t compare to that of most other horse breeds.

This breed of horse originated in Britain, specifically in the Norfolk region.

The origins of this gorgeous breed go back to the 1300s when the King of England required a light riding horse with an impressive trot.

The founding breeds for the Hackney horse were the Arabian, the early Thoroughbred, the Yorkshire Trotter, and the Norfolk Trotter. Certain members of this new trotting breed were saved and not sent to war as many of the other Hackney horses were.

Both the Norfolk and the Yorkshire trotters which helped to found the Hackney breed died out because of lack of popularity with the invention of cars. Because of the light showy gait that the Hackney carries, it was spared the same fate and today is still used for pulling buggy’s and trotting like it did back then.

What are Hackneys Used For?

The main thing that the Hackney is used for is driving. These horses aren’t often used for anything else as their reputation revolves around their trotting and driving abilities.

Though these small horses look frail and petite, they actually do have pretty strong muscular frames. Because of this, they can trot and drive for several miles at a time.

How Long Do These Horses Live For?

The hackney has the average lifespan of 30 years which is roughly the same as that of any other horse breed. These horses are strong and healthy and have great physical health.

Is the Hackney an Endangered Breed?

Sadly yes, the Hackney is officially recognized as an endangered breed. The Hackney has numbers that just dwindle to just about 5,000 living hackney horses worldwide.

The reason these ponies have lost their popularity is mainly because of the fact that they aren’t needed to pull carriages anymore. Driving is a dying sport and with the dying out of their purpose, the horses that did all this began to die out too.

Fun Facts On the Hackney

  • There are actually 2 types of hackneys, a hackney horse and a Hackney pony. The main difference between the two is their height
  • The Hackney is an endangered breed with just about 5,000 members alive in the world today
  • The Hackney Horse Society was formed in the Norwich area of Britain

Hailey Johnson

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!

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