The Clydesdale originated in the Clyde
region of Scotland during the mid-18th century and replaced the
use of the Shire in Scotland. It developed from a tough and hardy
native breed and, with the introduction of Belgian Draft and Flemish
stallions, started to gain size and bulk. One of the early influential
stallions was a horse called Blaze, a native stallion. This laid
the roots for the breed and then, during the 1720s, the 6th Duke
of Hamilton imported six Flemish Great Horses to further improve
The early Clydesdales were referred
to as the Clydesman's Horses by local people and they gained recognition
and admiration for their enormous pulling power. Infusions of Shire
blood added to their bulk, especially during the latter stages of
the 19th century, when Lawrence Drew and David Riddel introduced
the use of Shire mares. Interestingly these two breeders were convinced
that the Shire and the Clydesdale were two branches of one breed.
The Clydesdales were widely used throughout Lanarkshire for hauling
loads of coal, they began to be used throughout England. Several
early influential stallions were Glancer, who foaled 1806, and Broomfield
Champion. Broomfield Champion is often credited with stamping his
mark on the modern Clydesdale and this was partly through the influence
of this son, Clyde.
The Clydesdale Horse Society was formed
in 1877 - the Clydesdale was the first draft horse in Britain to
have its own society. The Clydesdale has several characteristics
which breeders have sought to maintain, namely, their exceptionally
tough and hard legs and feet and the activity and energy of their
stride. They have one of the most extravagant strides seen in the
The Clydesdale has an attractive head
with a straight profile, large intelligent eyes, and a broad forehead.
The neck should be curved and well set to slightly sloping shoulders.
They should be quite compact through the back, with well-sprung
ribs, and muscular hindquarters. They should have broad strong joints
and feathering. The modern Clydesdale is smaller than the original
type, is usually around 16.2 hh.
As with all draft breeds, they suffered
a decline in numbers after the beginnings of mechanization, but
have recently again increased in numbers. The Clydesdale is very
popular in America, and is famously represented by the Budweiser
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