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23 February 2019   
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A descendant of the old Norfolk Roadster, a renowned trotting horse of the eighteenth century and the Yorkshire Trotter. Both breeds trace back to the horse known as The Original Shales, who was foaled in 1755. He was the son of the thoroughbred - Blaze who was by Flying Childers, generally known as being the first great racehorse, and may thus be traced back to the Darley Arabian (q.v.). Therefore, the Hackney has both thoroughbred and Arab blood. Blaze and his progeny, notably his two sons, Driver and Shales, had a considerable influence on the development of the trotters of Eastern England. There were regional differences in the horses bred from Yorkshire and Norfolk. The Yorkshire trotters having more quality than the more cob like Norfolk trotters, however, over the years these distinctions have disappeared.

The breed came into demand in the nineteenth century as a producer of good quality military and carriage horses. Today the breed is chiefly to be seen in the show ring for which its spectacular, elevated trot and its spirited disposition are ideally suited. The Hackney pony was developed in the early eighteenth century, the earlier term Hackney pony almost certainly referred to small part breds. Christopher Wyndham Wilson, a Westmoreland breeder, was largely responsible for its development. He was a remarkable man who, amongst his achievements, invented the silo to store winter food for farm animals. Wilson used a variety of pony breeds, especially the Fell, as his foundation mares. He crossed them with a small Hackney called Sir George, who was sired in 1866 and stood at less than 14h.h. His policy of interbreeding to the prepotency of Sir George enabled Wilson to achieve his aim of breeding a small Hackney, with real pony characteristics. Other breeders eventually followed his lead in developing the Hackney pony.

The name Hackney was possibly derived from the French haquenee. In colour it is usually dark brown, black, bay or chestnut. The Hackney pony must not exceed 14h.h.; the horse is between 14.3 h.h. and 15.3h.h.. It has a small convex head with a small muzzle, large eyes and small ears; a fairly long, well formed neck set on powerful shoulders with small withers; compact body with great depth of chest and a high set tail; short legs and compact well shaped feet.

The trotting pace of the Hackney shows free shoulder movement with high, ground covering knee action. The foreleg being thrown well forward, with that slight pause which gives a particular grace of movement, causing the horse to appear to float over the ground. Action must be true and straight, with no dishing from side to side. The high stepping Hackney action was further developed in the second half of the nineteenth century, when it became fashionable to drive elegant, showy carriage horses. It is partly inherited, partly taught and it may be enhanced by training.

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