From the early days the Hackney has been a trotting horse, and a very fast trotter at that with good endurance.It is recorded that Old Shales could trot 17 miles in the hour; a daughter of Driver covered 15 miles in the hour, carrying 15 stone. In the year 1800 the mare `Phenomena, at the age of 12 years, covered 17 miles in 53 minutes.
The Hackney is now mostly seen in the show ring for driving purposes. Still it is wrong to look upon the Hackney simply as a pretty show animal. One notable English Lady Whip (driver) has demonstrated the performance ability of the Hackney by competing with a team in driving trails up to and including World Championship standard. Now the Hackney can be seen in many of the marathons organized by the British Driving Society, and they compete with great success in the new FEI Combined Driving Competitions, which consists of a dressage test, a marathon of well over 32 km and an Obstacle driving test.
Although the Hackney Horse is known as a harness horse, it is also well suited for use as a riding horse.