The Clydesdales

Three words, docile, strength and agility, depict the main characteristics of the Clydesdale.

Scottish farmers later began using some of the larger English and Flemish stallions on the smaller local mares. They eventually produced a powerful horse with a long stride and a sizable hoof, perfect for working in the soft soils of the rough Scottish farmland.

The Clydesdale is a breed of heavy draft horse developed in the early nineteenth century by farmers in the Lanarkshire (previously Clydesdale) district of Scotland. It was bred to meet not only the agricultural needs of the local farmers, but also the demands of commerce for the coalfields of Lanarkshire and for all the types of heavy haulage on the streets of Glasgow. Due to its fine reputation, use of the breed soon spread throughout the whole of Scotland and northern England.

The modern Clydesdale horse stands between 16 and 19 hands (each hand measures 4 inches) and weighs from 1600 to 2200 lbs. While this is larger than the original Scottish horse, one cardinal feature has been retained - the breed's substantial underpinning. The old adage "no foot-no horse" has always been true, thus the importance attached to maintaining sound hooves and legs within the breed.

The Clydesdale has a very distinctive look when compared with other draft breeds. The combination of vivid body colors, bright white faces, and long white "feathered" legs with high stepping gate and a head held high leave no question that you are looking at a Clydesdale. The feather is the long silky hair on the legs that flows to the ground and accentuates the high knee action and hock flex. The most common body color is bay, followed by black, brown, and chestnut. The roan trait (solid body color with white hairs throughout the coat) may be found in all the colors. Popular markings for today's big hitches are four white socks to the knees and hocks, and a well-defined blaze or bald face. The show ring, however, does not discriminate on color, with light roans and dark legs being considered equally with solid colored horses with traditional markings.