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April 19, 2016

Rare Breeds Program Acquires First Pair of Cleveland Bay Horses

Gifts from Local Donors Represent England’s Oldest and Purest Breed

Colonial Williamsburg’s Coach and Livestock Department recently welcomed two new additions to its Rare Breeds Program. Cleveland Bay horses Lancer and Isabella were special gifts to the Foundation from area donors.

Claudette and Steve Tallon of Williamsburg provided gift support to purchase Lancer for the Rare Breeds Program. Lancer joins Isabella, another Cleveland Bay given to Colonial Williamsburg by her prior owner, Cindy Kiser of Riverspring Farm in Verona.

“The Cleveland Bay horses bring to life a new and important dimension to our interpretation of travel and transportation in 18th century America,” said Ted Maris-Wolf, Colonial Williamsburg vice president for education, research, and historical interpretation. “Typically used by the British royal family in processions, the Cleveland Bays add elegance and authenticity to our carriage-ride program, helping to convey aspects of Williamsburg as a royal, as well as revolutionary, city.”

Cleveland Bay horses are renowned as England’s oldest and purest breed. The breed is set apart by its rarity, strength and remarkable temperament.

“Current estimates indicate there are fewer than 500 Cleveland Bay purebreds worldwide,” said Paul Bennett, Colonial Williamsburg director of coach and livestock. He estimates there are fewer than 140 of the breed in the United States.

“This breed was incredibly popular in the 18th century. Cleveland Bays would have been owned by almost everyone. More recently, King George V of Great Britain is noted to have owned them in the early 20th century,” Bennett said.

The breed comes exclusively in the Bay variety — characterized by reddish-brown coats and black legs, manes and tails. The consistent coloring of the breed made it easier for colonial Americans to match horses in pairs and in teams of four for pulling carriages.

A plaque recently installed on a stall in the Foundation’s Franklin Street stables honors the Tallon’s generosity. It reads, “Lancer: Kindly Donated by Claudette & Steve Tallon.”

“Steve and I believe the Colonial Williamsburg educational experience comes alive in the details,” Claudette Tallon said. “The Rare Breeds Program presented us with a unique opportunity to preserve yet another dimension of the Revolutionary City through horses, a longstanding interest of ours.”

In addition to their special gift to Coach and Livestock, the Tallons are members of the Raleigh Tavern and Goodwin donor societies. Claudette volunteers at the St. George Tucker House and in the Foundation’s Conservation department.

Guests can expect to see Lancer and Isabella appearing under saddle in the Revolutionary City with Colonial Williamsburg Nation Builders the Marquis de Lafayette, portrayed by Mark Schneider, and Martha Washington, portrayed by Katharine Pittman. The Coach and Livestock team has been working with the pair around the Historic Area to train and desensitize them.

The Foundation introduced the Rare Breeds Program in 1986 to preserve genetic diversity in livestock.

Media Contact:
Joe Straw