When a Hackney enters the show ring you know it! With their high stepping trot, powerful hind quarters and bright eyed intelligence, Hackneys have star quality like no other. The history of the Hackney dates back to the 1760's in England. This breed was favored for its fast paced trot and ability to carry a heavy man great distances at speeds of 16-17 mph. They were sought after for breeding in many European countries to improve their military stock. Crosses with Hackneys have contributed to breeds such as the Gelderlander, Dutch Warmblood, Friesian, Standardbred and American Saddlebred.
The Hackney horse was crossed with the Fell and Welsh ponies to create the Hackney pony. Few breeds have been utilized in as many disciplines. Under saddle Hackeys have been used in the military, trotting races, polo, dressage, hunter paces, trail riding, and even jumping. In 1910 a Hackney named Confidence jumped 7' 2" at the New York National Horse Show and 8'1" at a show in Syracuse, New York. Another Hackney named Sir Ashton jumped 8'2" at a horse show in Chicago and went on to win the New York National High Jump Competition in 1915. There are few jumpers today that can clear that height! They are also wonderful driving horses. Hackneys have made their mark in carriage driving, coaching and combined driving.
The Hackney has shown at Devon for over a hundred years and is featured on the Devon Horse Show logo. Long time competitor Janet Hicks feels a strong bond between Hackneys and Devon, "Our best promotion is to show off our wonderful ponies in front of the huge crowds here at Devon." Rodney Hicks stable will be bringing six ponies to Devon this year. 'Heartland Riverdance', the current World Champion Junior Exhibitor 14-17 Roadster Pony and reigning Canadian National Open Roadster Pony Champion, will be showing in the roadster pony section.
The roadster ponies are shown to a "bike" and their drivers wear colorful silks. This class, with its excitement and speed, is a definite crowd favorite! Others to watch are World Champion Harness Pony Mare 'Minute Maid', 'Truly Naughty By Nature' and 'The Dutchman'. They will be showing in the Harness Pony section. The Harness ponies are slightly smaller than the other divisions, must be 50" at the withers and are shown with a long tail and full mane.
Reserve World Champion Ladies Hackney Pony 'Exhilarating' will compete in the amateur Hackney section with owner Marjorie Kenney. Janet Hicks says of this duo "This bright star lights up the Dixon Oval." Trainer Rodney Hicks will show 'The Spiderman' in the Open Hackney Pony section, attempting to defend last year's Championship title for owner Edward Ochsenschlager.
Janet Hicks is sure that once people are introduced to Hackneys and learn the true nature of the breed they will become lifetime fans. She also feels that Devon is so important to the Hackneys, allowing them to gain exposure on such a grand scale. "Sitting behind a Hackney trotting down the rail at Devon, while the crowd applauds, is a feeling like no other" says Janet. "Devon and Hackneys... the two are meant to go together."
Photos: Truly Naughty By Nature; Rodney Hicks and The Spiderman; Marjorie Kenney and Exhilarating