This breed of horses, recently introduced into the United States, has attracted marked attention. The hackney has a peculiarly striking and pleasing appearance difficult to describe. His chief charms consist in high action, unusual symmetry and snap. Though not so speedy as the trotter nor so well adapted to equestrianism as the American saddle-horse, nor so good for moving heavy loads as the draft-horse, yet he fills a useful place not occupied by any other breed. He is stout, active, sure-footed, courageous and possessed of a good constitution and a lovely temper. A good specimen of this breed satisfies the eye, whether he be viewed from the ground, the road-wagon or the saddle. His neck is well set on, all-embracing where it meets the shoulders, arched and long enough to be beautiful. The head is clean and intelligent, the ears small and attractive. The back is ideal for the work usually demanded of him, being short and strong, while the hind quarters are long and powerful. The legs and feet appear slightly larger in proportion to size than do the speedier trotters', yet they are far from being coarse or draft-like. His limbs are flexible and are set on the body symmetrically.
The illustration (Fig. 17) shows a typical specimen of the breed and gives a better idea of the distinguishing characteristics than could be secured from an elaborate description. Not much is known specifically of the origin of the hackney. Johnson's Dictionary describes a hackney as being a hired horse. In early days, before Macadam discovered the art of road-building, the highways of England were quite as bad as they are in America. At an early period, a horse had been developed similar, in many respects, to the modern improved hackney. The men who kept horses for hire soon learned to purchase those of this type because it was found they were the best to carry heavy riders and to use on the post-chaise and stage coaches, since they had extreme endurance and pluck and were easily kept in good flesh. By a modern infusion of warm blood, his mental endowments have been greatly improved, and his action and spirit also, while at the same time the "staying qualities" of the breed have been preserved.
Fig. 17. Imported Cadet (1251) 10 Y. Chestnut stallion, foaled 1884.
Bred by Hy. Moore, Esq., England. Owned by A. J. Cassatt, Esq., Chester-brook Farm, Berwyn, Pa.
By Lord Derby, 2d 417. Dam 289 Princess, by Denmark. 1 Y Y
There is some diversity of opinion as to the proper size of the hackney. Mr. Burdett Coutts is in favor of increasing the size by careful selection of sires and dams. Other expert breeders do not believe that the size can be increased without losing, to some extent, some of the valuable characteristics of the breed. I incline to the latter opinion; for the breed, if increased in size, would certainly either lose some of its snap and elastic force, or, in case these qualities were retained, the added weight would overtax the limbs. No animal with the high mettle and quick motion of the hackney can approach the weight of the draft-horse without being in danger of breaking down. An increase of weight implies, or should imply, a decrease in snap and quick movement. Of necessity, the horse of heavy weight should be somewhat phlegmatic in temperament, otherwise his limbs will soon give out. The old saying, "A good horse will wear out two sets of legs," is often true, and therefore a horse's limbs should never be overloaded by too heavy body weight.
The hackney, when full grown, should be not far from fifteen hands high. If he is rather slim of body, one or two inches more may not be objectionable, but if inclined to be "stocky" then his height would better not exceed the standard indicated.
Two hackneys, - Little Wonder, imported early in 1883 by A. J. Cassatt, and Fashion, imported a year later by Prescott Lawrence, attracted wide attention. The hackney has grown into favor in recent years not only in the East but in the West as well. It is said that 181 hackney stallions were sold in England for exportation to the United States in the years 1888 to 1890 inclusive, a majority of which were taken west of the Ohio river. At the present time, there are many breeders of the hackney of wide reputation. No pains have been spared to select the best animals of England for importation. Too often the importations from Europe of some classes of animals have not been up to the highest standards of their respective breed. Fortunate it is that so many superior and so few inferior stallions of this breed have been brought to the United States. The standard was set high at first by wealthy and distinguished horse breeders, and it has been rigidly maintained. The beneficial results of this policy are evident, for one seldom sees a hackney full-blood or half-blood that is "weedy" or undesirable.
Fig. 18. Champion hackney stallion and champion sire Fandango 443.
Winner of American Hackney Society's Challenge Cup, National Horse Show, New York, 1899-1900.
Owned by Frederick C. Stevens, Maplewood Stock Farm, Attica, N. Y.