Everything You Need to Know About Clydesdale Horses

If you've ever marveled at the Budweiser wagons pulled by powerful bay horses, then you've witnessed the majesty of the Clydesdale.

The tremendously large Clydesdale horse breed is probably most famous for pulling the Budweiser hitches all over the country, as well as for appearing in the Budweiser commercials. One of the most beautiful horse breeds in the world, it's easy to marvel at the Clydesdale, but this breed has much more to offer.

Calm, docile, and easily trained, the Clydesdale is favored by professional drivers and amateur owners, alike. Not only is this horse right at home pulling a wagon or cart, but it's also versatile enough to be trained to ride, too. But those are just a few of the many reasons to love the Clydesdale breed.

History of the Clydesdale

clydesdale standing in historical area of grass

The Clydesdale horse is one of the most beloved breeds of horse, thanks in part to its gentle nature.

The Clydesdale is a draft horse that originated from the farm horses of Clydesdale, Scotland. Known for its large size, high-stepping action and calm temperament, the first breed registry was formed in 1877. Much like Belgian draft horses, the Clydesdale is powerful and strong.

The history of the breed dates back from the middle of the 18th century when native horses of Lanarkshire were graded up in an effort to produce greater weight and substance by the use of Flemish stallions.

Physical Characteristics

close up shot of horse feet

Clydesdales can grow to over 18 hands tall and they weigh between 1600 and 2400 pounds. White legs are common, but black legs are often found. White spots or white markings can occur on the body.

The breed combines strength and style, with very distinctive movement. Instead of the shuffling action customary to many draft breeds, the Clydesdale lifts each foot cleanly from the ground, so that the bottom of each hoof is visible from behind. Clydesdales can be trained to step to tunes such as Rocky or famous Queen songs, making them excellent show horses.

Clydesdale Uses Today

horses pulling carriage together

The United States has the largest number of Clydesdales, with Canada, Great Britain and Australia trailing in numbers.

Clydesdale horses are used for agriculture, logging, driving, and are also ridden for both show and pleasure. A number of Clydesdales also make up the famous Budweiser Clydesdales hitch, made popular by Budweiser at the end of Prohibition. According to the Anheuser-Busch website, a Dalmatian travels with each of the Clydesdale hitches! Since the 1950's Dalmatians have been seated proudly next to the driver. Some Dalmatians even "train" the Budweiser horses themselves!

With that in mind, the Clydesdales have an important advocacy group that's been around since the 1800's! Meet the Clydesdale breeders.

"The Clydesdale Breeders of the United States, incorporated in 1879, is the member organization for the Clydesdale horse and is open to all people interested in the well being and advancement of the breed. The purpose of the Association is to collect, revise, preserve, and publish the history and pedigrees of purebred Clydesdale horses. It is also responsible for all registrations and the transfer of ownership of all eligible horses within the United States."

In addition, the Clydesdale Horse Society is another important organization for the breed that highlights the conformation of the Clydesdale on their site.

Have you ever seen the Budweiser Clydesdales? Tell us on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!  
This post was originally published December 27, 2019.

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