The Clydesdale is the United Kingdom's youngest draft breed, with it becoming a breed only 150 years ago. To create the breed, calm mares from Lanarkshire(the Clyde Valley) were bred with the type of English draft stallions that were often found carrying knights bravely into battle. Also in the bloodline was several Flemish stallions imported to Scotland in the late 1700s.
Several stallons are noted to have had a great influence on the breed. One includes a brown imported by the Duke of Hamilton in the 18th century. The other two include a black Flemish with white stockings and a white face, as well as Blaze, a 16.1 hand high black horse thought to have the blood of a coach horse. He marked the Clydesdale with his flashy knee action.
In 1806s, a filly, the descendant of the black flemish stallion, was foaled. She became very influential to the breed, producing sturdy offspring with strong legs. These offspring, too, made a mark on the Clydesdale we know today.
In the early 1900s, the Clydesdale had reached its peek. There were an estimated 140,000 horses, with about 1,600 stallions being exported in 1911 alone. However, things began to look down for the famous draft by the end of World War I. The '20s brought on the use of machines for farm work, and, consequently, drafts were simply left to run free in certain countries. By the end of World War II, only 200 hundred Clydesdales were licensed to work in England. By 1949, the number plummeted to 80.
|A team of Clydesdales pull a wagon. source|
Today, Clydesdale are extremely popular throughout North America due to the famous Budweiser horses.
Breed Description and Uses
Clydesdales, unlike most other draft breeds, are more slim than burly, though don't underestimate their strength. They were bred to work hard a carry heavy loads of coal, produce, and even beer. Their gaits are high-stepping and flashy, their neck high-set, and their stockings and blaze eye-catching, making them elegant enough to be nice carriage horses. Also, their feet are huge, which complicates using them to pull plows. Because of that, these tall, 16 to 19 hands high drafts were commonly found in cities.
Most commonly, Clydesdales are bay with white stockings, a blaze, and heavy feathering around the fetlocks. Sometimes, sabino coloring occurs, with white stretching up as far as the belly. Other colors include roan, black, and gray.
Clydesdales are mostly used for driving, though if crossbred with another breed, like the Arabian, a common choice, they make prized eventing horses.
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