Origin and history of breeding Carriage Horses
The term “carriage” ultimately comes from the Latin “carrus”, which was used to describe the light horse or mule-drawn vehicles that the Romans used. Light vehicles existed even before Roman times, usually drawn by a pair of horses or other equids. However, the days of horse-drawn coach and carriage work did not really begin until the sixteenth century, and before this, the majority of people rode rather than drove, since outside urban areas the roads were not good, and vehicles were cumbersome and basic. Coaches were first built in the Hungarian town of Kocs. By the mid-seventeenth century, there were so many of them that European cities were struggling with traffic jams! Horse breeders, including many members of royal families, began to produce horses that were intended to be used for driving rather than riding. As a result, the world eventually obtained some wonderful coach and carriage horse breeds such as the Kladruber, the Gelderlander, the Cleveland Bay, the Breton Postier, and the fast Hackneys and Roadsters. The great days of private carriage driving came at the end of the nineteenth century when people loved to display themselves in open carriages in places such as Hyde Park in London or the Epsom or Chantilly races. Handsome, high-stepping carriage horses that matched in colour were essential to the turnout. Even today, Derby Day at Epsom begins with a heart-stirring carriage procession of royals and VIPs, all immaculately turned out.
Carriage Horses in equestrianism
Today, Carriage Horses are used for showing, commercial work such as weddings and funerals, and on heritage and history sites. They usually work as singles, as a pair, and in four-in-hand teams. Some drivers love the look of chestnuts with white leg markings, as they make a great show. Others prefer dark bays, greys and blacks, especially for commercial work.