About Hackney Horses
Hackney (also known as Roadster) horses have a long history.
William Youatt, writing in 1838, considered the Road Horse to have developed
into the premier English breed. Its essential role was as a working harness
horse developed for relatively fast transport on improving roads – as its
original name implies. This is reflected in the 1838 woodcut (right) which shows
both a signpost and a milestone in the background.
|New Zealand Hackney 'Almondo Tango' (Photo by Jeni Bassett Equine Attitude)|
However, the Hackney type was evolving long before this –
principally in Yorkshire. References as early as the thirteenth century speak
of “Fayre trotting horses” and advise that mares to breed from should be
“strongly made, large and fayre, and have a trotting pace ...” (‘Fayre’ [fair]
in this context meant ‘kind and gentle’ – in other words, with a good
disposition.) Early publications stress
that the Hackney was bred for work, not for fancy.
A Hackney Stud Book was first published in 1884, and a
Hackney Horse Society was formed. Subsequent to this, a Hackney pony was
developed and recognized as a separate breed.
With the advent of Railroads, and at a later date cars,
Hackneys like most horse breeds declined rapidly in numbers, but the breed was
kept going by fanciers who made them fashionable in the show ring.