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Owned by: Sisters View Clydesdales
Photo courtesy of Sisters View Clydesdales

Average Height:
16.2 - 18.2 hands

Bay, black, grey, roan, chestnut.

The Clydesdale is a powerful, heavy, and handsome horse. Males and females should both have these qualities, and they should also exhibit a free action that creates an impression of quality rather than bulk.

Clydesdales are judged heavily on the quality of their legs and feet. Members of the breed should have open, wide, and round feet and generous feathering on the legs, and their pasterns should be long and set at a 45 degree angle from the hoof head to the fetlock joint. The points of the hocks should be turned inwards and the shanks from the hock joint to fetlock joint must be straight.

The Clydesdale should have an open, broad forehead and a flat profile. The muzzle should be wide and the ears should be big. The neck should arch and the withers should be high. A short strong back is favored, and heavily muscled quarters complete the picture of a strong yet graceful animal.

Gentle, active, and responsive.

Members of this breed often excel in the following disciplines:

  • Driving
  • Farming / Logging
  • Pleasure / Show

Breed History:
The Clydesdale is native to the Lanarkshire district, or Clyde River Valley of Scotland, which was once known as "Clydesdale." The breed had its origins in the 18th century, when breeders began to cross local Lanarkshire horses with Flemish stallions in an effort to produce large working horses.

The first stallion to be used for this purpose was imported by the Duke of Hamilton VI, who granted use of the horse to his tenants. Soon afterwards, a Flemish stallion was purchased by John Paterson of Lochlyloch, who used it to further improve the local stock. A third stallion known as "Blaze" was notable for adding coaching qualities and style to the breed.

The matriarch of the Clydesdale breed was purchased in 1808 as a two year old, and the lineage of nearly every living Clydesdale can be traced back to her. Her most notable foal was "Thompson's Black Horse," or "Glancer," who had a strong body, short, thick lets, and the long feathers on his legs that the Clydesdale is famous for today.

By 1911, there were nearly 140,000 farm horses living in Scotland, most of which were Clydesdales. Clydesdales served in World War I and many were imported to Australia and New Zealand, South America, Russia, Italy, Austria, Canada and the United States.

The advent of the tractor finally brought a halt to the rapid growth in population of the Clydesdale breed. During the 1960s and early 1970s, breed numbers dwindled until the Clydesdale was categorized as "vulnerable" by the Rare Breed Survival Trust.

Today the Clydesdale is enjoying a recovery, as more and more breeders throughout the world are discovering the power and beauty of the breed. Though its numbers even in its native country are still low (approximately 700 registered brood mares and 100 registered stallions), the revival in horse-powered farming and logging is helping the breed gain popularity.

US Breed Association:
Clydesdale Breeders of the U.S.A.
17346 Kelley Rd
Pecatonica, IL   61063
(815) 247-8780

Native Country Breed Association:
The Clydesdale Horse Society
United Kingdom
44 (0)1575 570 900

Other Breed Association:
Clydesdale Horse Association of Canada
Albert Hewson (Secretary)
6221 Con. 10, R.R.2
Thornton, Ontario  
L0L 2N0
(705) 458-9214

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He didn't look like much. With his smallish stature, knobby knees, and slightly crooked forelegs, he looked more like a cow pony than a thoroughbred. But looks aren't everything; his quality, an admirer once wrote, "was mostly in his heart." Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of the horse who became a cultural icon in Seabiscuit: An American Legend.

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