The Hackney Horse: The Rolls Royce of Carriage Driving
“And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.”
(Revelation 19:16 NKJV)
(Check out photos of the Hackney at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hackney_horse)
The Hackney Horse is another superb breed that originated in Great Britain. He’s not to be confused with the Hackney Pony, which can’t be taller than 14.2 hands and has the usual characteristics of a pony, not a horse.
The first records of any Hackney Horse date back to the 14th Century in Norfolk (a county in eastern Great Britain) when the King of England, Edward III, required excellent trotting horses to be used for riding. Then in 1542, King Henry VIII ordered his wealthy subjects to breed only the very best trotting stallions.
With excellent crossbreeding in the late 17th to the early 18th Centuries, the Hackney developed from the Norfolk Trotter, Yorkshire Roadster, the Arabian, and the Thoroughbred. Wow! What strong bloodlines this high stepper has! Before that time, heavier, big-boned horses pulled wagons, and they were in no hurry to do it. However, people wanted to get places faster, so they focused on lighter horses such as the Hackney. At first, folks simply admired the beauty of the Hackney but soon discovered his amazing trotting ability and seemingly endless energy. He could cover up to sixty miles in one day!
When people first entered Hackneys in competition, it was “under saddle” (a rider on the horse), not harness. As road conditions improved and the Hackney became the carriage horse, he then competed in harness. Thus, he became known as a riding and driving horse of great excellence.
During the 19th Century as with so many other driving breeds, the invention of modern machinery and the expansion of the railway endangered the carriage horses. Fortunately, Hackney owners revived the breed by selective crossbreeding with Norfolk and Yorkshire Trotters known for their style and speed. The impressive gaits of the Hackney Horse saved him from extinction and began his awesome appearance in England’s show ring.
The Hackney first appeared in the United States in 1878 when a Hackney enthusiast, Alexander Cassatt, brought the first Hackney Pony to the United States. Because Hackneys came in both pony and horse height ranges, they were one of the few breeds that recognized both pony and horse sizes.
As the Hackney Pony developed in the late 19th Century, Hackney Horses were bred to different pony breeds in order to create a very specific type of show pony. In 1891 with the two breeds becoming increasingly distinct in their characteristics, Cassatt and other Hackney enthusiasts founded the American Hackney Horse Society now based in Lexington, Kentucky.
Over the last few decades, the Hackney’s breeding has further produced a horse ideal for carriage driving. The Hackney Horse ranges in height from 14 to 15.3 hands. Their common colors are black, brown, bay and chestnut, and there are even some spotted ones. He has an elegant presence with a small head, well-shaped ears, and a natural high-set tail. But what is the Hackney most well-known for? Of course, his natural high-stepping gait! Although he’s best known for stealing the show in harness, he can also give a smooth and exciting ride. A pleasant surprise is his outstanding ability in show jumping and dressage competition.
To bring the excellence of the Hackney to the world’s horse enthusiasts, in 2003 the American Hackney Horse Society started the Open Competition Awards Program to recognize blue-ribbon Hackneys that were competing against other breeds.
Today proud owners compete in Carriage Driving and Coaching with their Hackney Horses, many driving away with top honors. Horse lovers often have to admit there’s nothing more elegant than a Hackney driving a fancy antique carriage. Because of the Hackney’s royal appearance, it’s easy to understand that he’s called the Rolls Royce of carriage driving.
Do you know what it means to label something a “Rolls Royce”?
The term “Rolls Royce” means the very best of something. A Rolls Royce car is one of the most expensive, special-made cars in the world. As the Hackney is labeled the Rolls Royce of carriage driving, our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, can be labeled the “Rolls Royce of all gods.” He’s not only the best God. He’s the only true God.
Sadly, many people around the world worship gods that aren’t even alive. They worship statues that can’t hear or speak. Some cultures worship animals, believing their ancestors’ souls live in the animals they worship. But saddest of all are the millions of people who believe they can go to heaven if they please their gods by being good or by doing kind deeds. But our one true God doesn’t expect that from us. All our God asks is that we trust in His Son Jesus to be our Savior, the only one who can forgive all our sins.
If you’ve trusted in Jesus as your Savior, then you’re believing in the Rolls Royce of gods, and you always can be sure of heaven when you die.
PRAYER: Dear God, I thank Jesus my Savior for being the One True God, whom I can trust to go to heaven. I realize there are no other gods like Him anywhere. In Jesus’ name, amen.
SADDLE UP! (What would God have you do now?)
What do you think people might be doing to try to earn their way to heaven? Thank God that you know it’s your faith in Christ that opens the way to eternal life.
Take your ride: (Do you know?) In the 1820s, a Hackney called “Norfolk Cob” was recorded as trotting two miles in just five minutes and four seconds.
Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11).
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