The Clydesdale Horse Breed
From Wikipedia, www.wikipedia.org
The Clydesdale is a breed of draft horse named after and derived
from hard-working farm horses of Clydesdale (now Lanarkshire),
Scotland. They are perhaps most famous for their use as the
mascot of beer company Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser brand.
Thought to be over 300 years old, the breed was once extensively
used for pulling
heavy loads in both rural and urban settings in
the Commonwealth and United States. Today, the Clydesdale's most
significant presence is in exhibition and parade.
With an estimated global population of just 5,000 individuals,
the Clydesdale is recognized by the Rare Breed Survival Trust as
Clydesdale Horse Characteristics
Clydesdales are noted for their rugged grace and versatility;
they are strong yet amiable animals exceeding 18 hands (1.8
metres or 6 feet) in height and over one ton (2204 pounds) in
weight. Primarily a reddish brown to black in color, Clydesdales
have distinctive tufts of white or black hair on their lower legs
known as feather. Nowadays chiefly for show, this hair was first
developed to protect the horses' legs.
The coat may also have white spots or hair dispersed evenly; the
latter variation is known as roan. The muzzle is also typically
white. Hoof size is another distinct feature of Clydesdales;
their hooves are twice the width of a thoroughbred
Foals are born after an 11-month pregnancy and may weigh up to 82
kilograms (180 pounds). They are fast growers and for the first
few months gain up to 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) per day; a mother
is capable of producing over 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of milk per
day in order to support this rate of development.
History of the Clydesdale Horse
Further developed to meet the practical needs of early 19th
century Scotland, the Clydesdale is thought to have arisen from
the mid-18th century cross breeding of local mares with larger
English and Flemish stock perhaps originally developed for use as
The breed was well received owing to its agile strength and
docility, soon spreading to northern England and later exported
to other Commonwealth countries, namely Australia, and New
Zealand; Clydesdales were first shipped to North America in 1840,
and later to South America, Russia, Austria and Italy. Exports
peaked in 1911 with a recorded 1,617 stallions trading hands.
According to the Clydesdale Horse Society (formally founded
1887), between 1884 and 1945 20,183 animals were exported.
As a beast of labor, Clydesdales had been largely replaced by
tractors and other heavy machinery by the end of World War II.
However, the horses are still used in situations where machines
are unwanted or inferior, such as "eco-friendly" farming and
logging operations. Clydesdales are now most often seen in
competitive agricultural exhibitions such as state, county and
At one time there were at least 140,000 Clydesdales known in
Scotland; by 1949 just 80 animals were licensed in England and by
1975 the Rare Breed Survival Trust had listed the breed as
"vulnerable". Clydesdales have since seen a resurgence in
popularity and population, resulting in the breed's status being
reclassified favorably as "at risk". Clydesdales are now most
numerous in the United States where over 600 foals are reportedly
born each year.
Clydesdale in show and private use
Clydesdales are judged primarily for their build, temperament and
agility. The legs and hooves are given close attention, as their
size and capability must be true to the breed; the hooves should
be "open and round like a mason's mallet" and the legs straight
and muscular, with an overall balanced and plumb look. The
forehead should be broad and flat; the head should be held high
and the stepping gait
high and long; the feather or leg hair
should be long and silky so as to empathize this gait. The neck
should be long and arched; the nostrils and ears should be large.
Size is also a factor, but more important is the build of the
animal; its appearance should be that of a strong, healthy and
weighty beast without excess bulk. Color and pattern are
generally not considered, although coloration should be vivid and
faces a bright white.
Aside from their use in traditional agriculture, Clydesdales are
also ridden under saddle. They are used in both therapeutic and
recreational trail riding.