While many people are attracted to the dramatic beauty of a Clydesdale horse, breed purists judge horses by their "action." A major consideration in judging Clydesdales is the quality of their feet and legs, and how their legs move. The best Clydesdale horses convey a sense of strength as well as agility and grace. In the United States, most people associate the Clydesdale horse with the Anheuser-Busch brewery.
Scientific & Common Names
Genus & Species - Equus ferus caballus
Common Name - Clydesdale
The most memorable thing about a Clydesdale horse is its size. Clydesdales are massive horses, averaging about 18 hands (6 feet) in height at the shoulders. They can also weigh around 2,000 pounds. However, thanks to careful breeding, Clydesdales do exhibit a surprising elegance in movement. Clydesdales have deep, muscular chests, powerful hindquarters, and strong, big feet. They have significant feathering on the feet and legs, most often in white, but sometimes in black. Most commonly, Clydesdales are found in bay, but they also exist in black, brown, chestnut, and roan. They usually have some white markings on the head as well.
As with most horses, Clydesdale mares are ready for breeding around 3 or 4 years of age. Stallions can breed when they are 2 to 4 years of age. Mares are pregnant for about 11 months and give birth to a single foal that can weigh 110 to 180 pounds. The mare will give up to 12 gallons of milk to her foal each day, and the foal can gain 4 pounds per day for the first few months of its life.
Despite their enormous size, Clydesdales are known to be gentle and friendly. Clydesdales are intelligent, hard-working, and easily trained.
Clydesdales originated in Clydesdale, Scotland, which is currently called Lanarkshire. Horses in that area were used for farming and hauling heavy loads. John Paterson, one of the original breeders, crossed Flemish stallions with the smaller native mares in the area to create the Clydesdale. In 1877, the Clydesdale Horse Society of Great Britain was created, and just a few years later, an American breed registry was created as well. These powerful horses were exported all over the world, especially to the nations of the British Commonwealth, like New Zealand and Australia.
As with most heavy draft breeds, the mechanization of farming dramatically reduced the numbers of Clydesdales. After the second World War, only a handful of Clydesdales existed. However, a resurgence of popularity has occurred since the 1980s. Currently, these horses are valued for show and advertising purposes. There are now about 5,000 Clydesdales and breed is growing with around 500 new foals registered every year.