Hackney Pony

Origin: England.

Height: 12.2-14.2hh.

Color: Usually bay, brown, chestnut, black.

Character: Active, honest, courageous, and possessed of great endurance.Physique: True pony type. Pony head with prick ears, long neck, compact body with good shoulders and quarters, iron-hard legs, and good feet.Action highly dramatic, the knees raised as high as they can go, and the feet flung forward with an extravagant, rounded motion. Hocks brought up high under the body, with movement on all four feet straight and true. The effect of a hackney at the trot is one of flamboyance and brilliance.

The word hackney comes from the Norman French haquenai, which was applied in the Middle Ages to riding animals of the humblest caste (“Hewened have reprieved be Of theft or more if that he Had in his stable anyHakenay” – Chaucer, being rude about them). Quite why this derogatory word, which worked its way into hack = hireling in the sense of a wretch loaned out for a small sum, came to be applied to the highly-prized breed developed during the 19th century from the famous old Norfolk Roadstertrotting horse by way of the Arab and Thoroughbred with help from Fell and welsh ponies is not clear; but by the mid-19th century, the Hackney was held in great esteem not only in the British Isles but also on the Continent, to which many of the best Hackneys were exported.

It is exclusively a harness pony, trotting with a wonderful, airy grace that makes it seem to fly over the ground. In the days before motorization it was very popular as a carriage pony, and because of its high price and smart appearance was valued as a prestige delivery pony by tradesmen who wanted to show their customers that they were successful. Fears that the car and truck would render it extinct have proved baseless. Although its numbers are much reduced, and only the best show types now have much value, the modern Hackney has become one of the most consistent crowd drawers in the show ring.

Hackneys are also popular throughout North America, where they appear 11 the show ring with tails nicked to give an artificially high carriage. The smaller American Hackneys of pony type, sometimes called “Bantam” Hackneys (some are bred as small as 11 hh), must have definite pony character. Aside from harness work, they are also used for riding and for showjumping, at which sport they were once much in demand in Great Britain because of the powerful muscular development of the hindquarters and legs.

See more: Oldenburg Horse

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