For a fresh look at a little-known, highly popular late 19th century horse breed, consider the new Anne Britton book The Dash of Blood: A History of the Yorkshire Coach Horse.
The Yorkshire Coach Horse (YCH) was one of the most popular breeds in Great Britain, the United States, and parts of Canada, in the late 19th century. Today the breed is given only a few lines in equine encyclopedias under extinct breeds. As a standardized breed it is gone, but arguably many thrive all over the world as Cleveland Bay crosses registered with several registries.
Britton’s book provides an excellent combination of the breed history, equine welfare (and lack of), transportation, and horse-trading practices of the time. It details the history of the formation of the Yorkshire Coach Horse Society and its relationship with the Cleveland Bay Horse Society. It also gives a glimpse into the personal lives of the people whose dedication (and sometimes sheer pigheadedness) developed and promoted the breed.
It supplies in more detail the causes of the breed’s decline than the standard mantra of mechanization and WWI. It is presented in an easy to read format dispelling some myths about the breed’s extinction. It outlines the mistakes the YCH and Cleveland Bay Horse Society (UK) leaders made at the time and warns current enthusiasts not to make the same errors again.
Finally, it appears to be the first account written by a YCH breeder’s descendant whereas all other accounts have been written by Cleveland Bay breeders and equine historians.