The Queen’s love for horses is well-documented, but what some may not realise is how instrumental the late monarch was in saving a native British breed.

The Cleveland Bay emanates from the Cleveland area of North East England and is Britain’s oldest breed of horse, but in the 1960s, numbers were dwindling to such an extent that they faced extinction.

It was at this point that Her Majesty purchased a Cleveland Bay stallion, Mulgrave Supreme, and it was from him that the breed began to repopulate.

Mulgrave Supreme was one of only four Cleveland Bay stallions in the country at the time, whom The Queen bought from breeder George W Duell.

“She used him for her own breeding to get her stock built up and get some good lines and then after so many years she put him out to public stud so they could use him,” George’s grandson, Gerard Welford told ITV News.

The Cleveland Bay is currently classified as rare. Breeders like Paul Stacey, in Middleton St George near Darlington, are among those working to boost their numbers. He uses the versatile horses for carriage racing and said he hoped the royal link will continue for years to come.

Earlier this year, Your Horse reported on the retirement of Royal Mews Cleveland Bay, Maryland, to The Horse Trust.

‘Mary’ (pictured top) was one of the horses used to pick up high commissioners and ambassadors presenting their credentials to The Queen. She took part in many important events such as State visits, State Openings of Parliament and Trooping the Colour.

The Cleveland Bay Horse Society paid tribute to Her Majesty’s lasting legacy earlier this month.

“The Queen’s efforts to protect and promote the Cleveland Bay were significant, and will never be forgotten,” said a society spokesman.

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