If you are looking for a new horse, especially if you’d like to have the unique, consider the Hackney Pony. This flashy, high-stepping pony has an intriguing history and makes a popular horse show competitor.
The Hackney originated from Norfolk, England. Norfolk Trotters, a popular breed of horse, were used in the region and were bred to emphasize both speed and style. Breeders wished to improve the breed, though, so they bred Norfolk mares with Thoroughbred stallions to add speed and a refined appearance to the Norfolk Trotter. Beginning in the late 1700s, the offspring of the Norfolk and Thoroughbred were further specialized, refined, and bred, creating the Hackney horse.
During the 19th century, large quantities of horses were being exported by ship. Since larger horses were more difficult to transport, smaller horses were in higher demand. Additionally, the continued development of roadways created demand for a horse that could trot quickly to provide faster transportation than that offered by larger draft horses. Thanks to the changing times, the Hackney’s breeding was once again refined to create the Hackney Pony, mainly by breeding Hackney horses to Fell Ponies.
Hackneys were imported to America beginning in 1878, and the Hackney Stud Book Society was created in 1883. Hackney Ponies served primarily as carriage horses, becoming popular as show ponies after World War II.
Hackney Ponies typically stand between 12 and 14 hands high, and may not exceed 14.2 hands high. They have pony characteristics, meaning that they have a small head with large eyes. Hackney Ponies have muscular, arched necks, a light build, and fine bone. They carry their tails high and have exaggerated leg action, raising their knees high. Hackney Ponies are typically bay or black, though chestnut colors do occur.
Hackney Ponies are shown in a variety of divisions which depend on the physical characteristics of each pony. Roadster Ponies stand at 13 hands or less and are known for their speed. They are shown at three trotting speeds and pull a road bike. Cob Tail Ponies stand at 14.2 hands or less and are shown with a shortened tail and braided mane. Harness Ponies measure 12.2 hands or less and are shown with long manes and natural tails. Pleasure Ponies stand at 14.2 hands or less and are shown at three different gaits. Hand Ponies are young ponies that are shown in-hand.
The Breed Today
The Hackney Pony continues to make a popular show pony today. Hackney Ponies are most commonly driven, but can also be shown in-hand and under saddle.
The Hackney Horse
A variation of the Hackney Pony, a Hackney that stands over 14.2 hands is classified as Hackney Horses. Shown in a variety of ways, the Hackney Horse is a versatile performer.
More Hackneys are competing in Dressage and Jumping Divisions in both the USA and the UK. Several shows offer Hackney Horse classes.
For more information on the Hackney Pony or Hackney Horse, visit the American Hackney Horse Society website.