Clydesdale horse

Clydesdale horse

Clydesdale draught horse at the Maryland State Fair
Distinguishing features Draught horse breed, generally bay, with significant white markings and extensive feathering.
Country of origin Scotland
Common nicknames Clydes (USA)
Breed standards
Clydesdale Breeders of the USA Breed standards
Clydesdale Horse Society Breed standards
Horse (Equus ferus caballus)

The Clydesdale is a breed of draught horse derived from the farm horses of Clydesdale, Scotland, and named after that region. Although originally one of the smaller breeds of draught horses, it is now a tall breed. Often bay in colour, they show significant white markings due to the presence of sabino genetics. The breed was originally used for agriculture and haulage, and is still used for draught purposes today. The Budweiser Clydesdales are some of the most famous Clydesdales, and other members of the breed are used as drum horses by the British Household Cavalry. They have also been used to create and improve other draught breeds.

The breed was developed from Flemish stallions imported to Scotland and crossed with local mares. The first recorded use of the name "Clydesdale" for the breed was in 1826, and by 1830 a system of hiring stallions had begun that resulted in the spread of Clydesdale horses throughout Scotland and into northern England. The first breed registry was formed in 1877. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of Clydesdales were exported from Scotland and sent throughout the world, including to Australia and New Zealand, where they became known as "the breed that built Australia". However, during World War I population numbers began to decline due to increasing mechanization and war conscription. This decline continued, and by the 1970s, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust considered the breed vulnerable to extinction. Population numbers have increased slightly in the intervening time, but they are still thought to be vulnerable.


Breed characteristics

The conformation of the Clydesdale has changed significantly throughout its history. In the 1920s and 30s, it was a compact horse smaller than the Shire, Percheron and Belgian. Beginning in the 1940s, breeding animals were selected to produce taller horses that looked more impressive in parades and shows. Today, the Clydesdale stands 16 to 18 hands (64 to 72 inches, 163 to 183 cm) high and weighs 1,800 to 2,000 pounds (820 to 910 kg).[1] Some mature males are larger, standing taller than 18 hands and weighing up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg).[2] The breed has a straight or slightly convex facial profile,[3] broad forehead and wide muzzle. It is well-muscled and strong, with an arched neck, high withers and a sloped shoulder. Breed associations pay close attention to the quality of the hooves and legs, as well as the general movement. Their gaits are active, with clearly lifted hooves and a general impression of power and quality.[1] Clydesdales have been identified to be at risk for chronic progressive lymphedema, a disease with clinical signs that include progressive swelling, hyperkeratosis and fibrosis of distal limbs that is similar to chronic lymphedema in humans.[4]

Clydesdales are usually bay in colour, but roan, black, grey and chestnut also occur. Most have white markings, including white on the face, feet, legs and occasional body spotting (generally on the lower belly). They also have extensive feathering on their lower legs.[1] Roaning, body spotting and extensive white markings are thought to be the result of sabino genetics. Some Clydesdale breeders want white face and leg markings without the spotting on the body. To attempt getting the ideal set of markings, they often breed horses with only one white leg to horses with four white legs and sabino roaning on their bodies. On average, the result is a foal with the desired amount of white markings.[5] Clydesdales do not have the SB1 (Sabino 1) gene responsible for causing sabino expressions in many other breeds, and researchers theorise that there are several other genes responsible for these patterns.[6] Many buyers pay a premium for bay and black horses, especially those with four white legs and white facial markings. Specific colours are often preferred over other physical traits, and some buyers will even choose horses with soundness problems if they have the desired colour and markings. Roan horses are not preferred by buyers, despite one draught breed writer theorizing that they are needed in order to keep the desired coat colours and texture.[7] Breed associations, however, state that there are no bad colours, and that horses with roaning and body spots are increasingly accepted.[8]


Two Clydesdales in a plowing competition

The Clydesdale takes its name from Clydesdale, the old name for Lanarkshire, noted for the River Clyde.[2] In the mid-18th century, three Flemish stallions were imported to Scotland and bred to local mares, resulting in foals that were larger than the existing local stock. These were a 16.1 hands (65 inches, 165 cm) coach horse stallion named Blaze, a black unnamed stallion imported from England by a John Paterson of Lochlyloch and an unnamed dark-brown stallion owned by the Duke of Hamilton. Written pedigrees were kept of these foals beginning in the early 19th century, and in 1806 a filly, later known as "Lampits mare" after the farm name of her owner, was born that traced her lineage to the black stallion. This mare is listed in the ancestry of almost every Clydesdale living today. One of her foals was Thompson's Black Horse (known as Glancer), who was to have a significant influence on the Clydesdale breed.[9] The first recorded use of the name "Clydesdale" in reference to the breed was in 1826 at an exhibition in Glasgow.[10] Another theory of their origin, that of them descending from Flemish horses brought to Scotland as early as the 15th century, was also promulgated in the late 18th century. However, even the author of that theory admitted that the common story of their ancestry is more likely.[11]

A system of hiring stallions between districts existed in Scotland, with written records dating back to 1837.[2] This program consisted of local agriculture improvement societies holding breed shows to choose the best stallion, whose owner was then awarded a monetary prize. The owner was then required, in return for additional monies, to take the stallion throughout a designated area, breeding to the local mares.[12] Through this system and by purchase, Clydesdale stallions were sent throughout Scotland and into northern England. Through extensive crossbreeding with local mares, these stallions spread the Clydesdale type throughout the areas where they were placed, and by 1840, Scottish draught horses and the Clydesdale were one and the same.[10] In 1877, the Clydesdale Horse Society of Scotland was formed, followed in 1879 by the American Clydesdale Association (later renamed the Clydesdale Breeders of the USA) which served both American and Canadian breed enthusiasts. The first American stud book was published in 1882.[2] In 1883, the short-lived Select Clydesdale Horse Society was founded to compete with the Clydesdale Horse Society. It was started by two breeders dedicated to improving the breed, who also were responsible in large part for the introduction of Shire blood into the Clydesdale.[13]

A 1904 drawing of a Clydesdale mare

Large numbers of Clydesdales were exported from Scotland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with 1,617 stallions leaving the country in 1911 alone. Between 1884 and 1945, export certificates were issued for 20,183 horses. These horses were exported to other countries in the British Empire, as well as North and South America, continental Europe and Russia.[9] World War I saw the conscription of thousands of horses for the war effort, and after the war breed numbers declined as farms became increasingly mechanised. This decline continued between the wars. Following World War II the number of Clydesdale breeding stallions in England dropped from more than 200 in 1946 to 80 in 1949. By 1975, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust considered them vulnerable to extinction,[1] meaning there were fewer than 900 breeding females in the UK.[14]

Many of the horses exported from Scotland in the 19th and 20th centuries went to Australia and New Zealand.[1] In 1918, the Commonwealth Clydesdale Horse Soociety was formed as the association for the breed in Australia.[15] Between 1906 and 1936, Clydesdales were bred so extensively in Australia that other draught breeds were almost unknown.[16] By the late 1960s it was noted that "Excellent Clydesdale horses are bred in Victoria and New Zealand; but, at least in the former place, it is considered advisable to keep up the type by frequent importations from England."[17] Over 25,000 Clydesdales were registered in Australia between 1924 and 2008.[18] The popularity of the Clydesdale led to it being called "the breed that built Australia".[13]

In the 1990s, the breed's popularity and numbers began to rise. By 2005, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust had moved the breed to "at risk" status,[1] meaning there were fewer than 1,500 breeding females in the UK.[14] However, by 2010 they had been moved back to vulnerable.[19] The Clydesdale is considered to be at "watch" status by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, meaning that as of 2010 less than 2,500 horses are registered annually in the USA and less than 10,000 exist worldwide.[20] As of 2010, there are estimated to be around 5,000 Clydesdales worldwide,[21] with around 4,000 in the US and Canada,[1] 800 in the UK[9] and the rest in other countries, including Russia, Japan, Germany and South Africa.[13]


The Budweiser Clydesdales

The Clydesdale was originally used for agriculture, hauling coal in Lanarkshire and heavy hauling in Glasgow.[2] Today, Clydesdales are still used for draught purposes, including agriculture, logging and driving. They are also shown and ridden, as well as kept for pleasure. Some of the most famous members of the breed are the teams that make up the hitches of the Budweiser Clydesdales. These horses were first owned by the Budweiser Brewery at the end of Prohibition in the United States, and have since become an international symbol of both the breed and the brand. The Budweiser breeding program, with its strict standards of colour and conformation, have influenced the look of the breed in the United States to the point that many people believe that Clydesdales are always bay with white markings.[1] As well as being driven, some Clydesdales are used for riding and can be shown under saddle.[22] Clydesdales and Shires are used by the British Household Cavalry as drum horses, leading parades on ceremonial and state occasions. The horses are eye-catching colours, including piebald, skewbald and roan. To be used for this purpose, a drum horse must stand a minimum of 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm) high. They carry the Musical Ride Officer and two silver drums weighing 56 kilograms (120 lb) each.[23][24]

In the late 19th century, Clydesdale blood was added to the Irish draught breed in an attempt to improve and reinvigorate that declining breed. However, these efforts were not seen as successful, as Irish Draught breeders thought the Clydesdale blood made their horses coarser and prone to lower leg defaults.[25] The Clydesdale was instrumental in the creation of the Gypsy Vanner horse, developed in Great Britain.[26] The Clydesdale, along with other draught breeds, was also used to create the Australian Draught Horse.[27] In the early 20th century, they were often crossed with Dales ponies, creating mid-sized draught horses useful for pulling commercial wagons and military artillery.[28]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Dutson, pp. 348-351
  2. ^ a b c d e "Clydesdale". International Museum of the Horse. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  3. ^ "The Clydesdale Horse - Breed Standards". Commonwealth Clydesdale Horse Society. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  4. ^ "Chronic Progressive Lymphedema (CPL) in Draft Horses". University of California, Davis. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  5. ^ "Sabino spotting". American Paint Horse Association. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  6. ^ Brooks, Samantha; Ernest Bailey (2005). "Exon skipping in the KIT gene causes a sabino spotting pattern in horses". Mammalian Genome 16 (11): 893–902. doi:10.1007/s00335-005-2472-y. PMID 16284805. 
  7. ^ Roy, Bruce (August 16, 2010). "Stable Talk". The Draft Horse Journal. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  8. ^ "The Modern Clydesdale". Clydesdale Horse Society. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  9. ^ a b c "Breed History". Clydesdale Horse Society. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  10. ^ a b Hendricks, pp. 133-134
  11. ^ Biddell, pp. 75-76
  12. ^ McNeilage, p. 73
  13. ^ a b c Edwards, pp. 284-285
  14. ^ a b "Watchlist". Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  15. ^ "Our Purpose". Commonwealth Clydesdale Horse Society. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  16. ^ "Our History - 1900 to 1930". Commonwealth Clydesdale Horse Society. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  17. ^ Hayes, p. 361
  18. ^ "Our History - 1970 to present". Commonwealth Clydesdale Horse Society. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  19. ^ "Watchlist - Equines". Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  20. ^ "Conservation Priority Equine Breeds 2010" (PDF). American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  21. ^ "Clydesdale horse". American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  22. ^ Smith, pp. 20-21
  23. ^ Reid, Melanie (March 31, 2010). "Digger, the horse who grew up to join the Army". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  24. ^ "The Drum Horse". The Household Cavalry. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  25. ^ Edwards, pp. 374-375
  26. ^ Dutson, pp. 117-118
  27. ^ "Foundation Breeds". Clydesdale & Heavy Horse Field Days Association Inc. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  28. ^ Dutson, p. 294


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Clydesdale (horse) — Infobox Horse name =Clydesdale image caption=Clydesdale draft horse at the Maryland State Fair features = Draft horse breed noted for flashy appearance and docile disposition. Mostly bay, chestnut, or black with white stockings and distinct… …   Wikipedia

  • Clydesdale (disambiguation) — Clydesdale is a former government district in Strathclyde, Scotland. Clydesdale may also refer to: Clydesdale F.C., a former football club in Glasgow Clydesdale Bank Marquess of Clydesdale, title of the eldest son of the Duke of Hamilton… …   Wikipedia

  • Clydesdale (Pferd) — Wichtige Daten Ursprung: Schottland, 18. Jahrhundert Hauptzuchtgebiet: USA Verbreitung: gering …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Clydesdale (cheval) — Demande de traduction …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Clydesdale — /kluydz dayl /, n. one of a Scottish breed of strong, hardy draft horses, having a feathering of long hairs along the backs of the legs. [1780 90; after Clydesdale, Scotland] * * * Breed of heavy draft horse that originated in Lanarkshire,… …   Universalium

  • Clydesdale — For other uses, see Clydesdale (disambiguation). Coordinates: 55°42′00″N 3°49′59″W / 55.700°N 3.833°W / 55.700; 3.833 …   Wikipedia

  • Clydesdale (truck) — Clydesdale Clydesdale Owner and Driver Information Owner Bennet Clark Driver(s) Bennett Clark Home city Cedertown, GA Truck Information Year created 1995 Body style 2002 Chevy Engine 542 Chevy …   Wikipedia

  • Clydesdale — [klīdz′dāl΄] n. [after Clydesdale, the valley of the Clyde River, Scotland, where the breed originated] any of a breed of large, heavy draft horse, usually bay, brown, or black with areas of white on the face and shanks and with heavily feathered …   English World dictionary

  • horse — horseless, adj. horselike, adj. /hawrs/, n., pl. horses, (esp. collectively) horse, v., horsed, horsing, adj. n. 1. a large, solid hoofed, herbivorous quadruped, Equus caballus, domesticated since prehistoric times, bred in a number of varieties …   Universalium

  • horse — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) n. equine; stallion, mare, colt, filly, foal, gelding; steed, mount; trotter, pacer, hackney; nag, hack, pony, charger, courser; dobbin, jennet; cavalry; sawhorse; bronco, mustang, cayuse; Arab. See… …   English dictionary for students