This heavy draft horse traces its roots to the early 19th
century in the Lanarkshire (formerly Clydesdale) district
of Scotland. There was a strong need for this large horse
not only in the agricultural area but in the commerce area
as well. The horses were used in the coalfields of Lanarkshire
and for hauling wagons in the streets of Glasgow.
To achieve the desired traits of a horse with a longer stride
and larger feet, that were necessary on draft horses who worked
on the soft soils of the Scottish lands, English and Belgian
stallions were imported and bred with the smaller local mares.
The result was the founding line of the modern-day Clydesdales.
The breed's reputation grew to the point that Scottish breeders
began exporting them to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and
the United States. Today the Clydesdale is almost exclusively
the only draft breed in its native Scotland, and is still
favored in the other four countries as well.
In fact there is one very large and popular brewery in the
United States which uses Clydesdales, exclusively, for pulling
replicas of its original beer wagon in parades and at special
events around the country. They make these magnificent animals
available for one to go into their temporary stables and actually
walk up to the horses for a close-up view. The horses are
sort of goodwill ambassadors for their company. And darn good
ones too, one might say.
Description and Conformation
Today's Clydesdale typically weighs in from 1600 to 2000
pounds (113. 6 to 142 stones). He stands 16 to 19 hands (162.
5 to 193 cm. , or 64 to 76 in. ) at the shoulder. While this
is larger than the original Scottish horse, today's breeders
have retained the large feet, the sound legs, and the distinctive
looks of the ancestral Clydesdales. The colors of the coats
are very vivid, the face is usually white, and the most popular
trait for a performing team of these magnificent horses is
four white socks which reach the knees. The legs are usually
"feathered" in white hair from the knees down, and the most
common color is a bright bay. Once can, however, still see
Clydesdales in black, brown, and chestnut. And those are perfectly
acceptable for registration as purebreds.
The overall take on this breed is that of a thoroughly well-built
horse which is full of strength and activity. They naturally
hold their heads high and seem very proud, almost aristocratic.
One can see the strength, agility, and docility in their stance
even while they are stationary. And once seen in action the
Clydesdales leave an even more lasting, and awe inspiring,
About the Author
Tristan Andrews is a freelance author who writes articles
about pet health