Name of breed: Clydesdale
Country of origin: Scotland
Breed origin: The Clydesdale breed was developed from Flemish stallions imported to Scotland and bred with local mares. The first recorded use of the name ‘Clydesdale’ for the breed was in 1826, and by 1830 a system of hiring stallions had begun that resulted in the spread of Clydesdale horses throughout Scotland and into northern England. The first breed registry was formed in 1877.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of Clydesdales were exported from Scotland and sent throughout the world, including to Australia where they became known as ‘the breed that built Australia’. However, during World War One population numbers began to decline due to increasing mechanisation and war conscription. The decline continued and by the 1970s, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust considered the breed vulnerable to extinction. Population numbers have since increased slightly, but they are still thought to be vulnerable.
Distinguishing features: The conformation of the Clydesdale has changed greatly throughout its history but today they stand between 16 to 18 hands high and weigh anywhere between 820 to 910 kg. The breed has a straight facial profile with a broad forehead and wide muzzle. Well muscled and strong, their gaits are active, with clearly lifted hooves and a general impression of power and quality. Contrary to popular belief, Clydesdales are quite energetic in nature. They are usually bay in colour, but show significant white markings due to the presence of sabino genetics. Most have white markings and of course extensive feathering on their lower legs.
Modern day Clydesdale: Originally used for agriculture and haulage, Clydesdales are still used for draught purposes today, including agriculture, logging and driving. They are also used in the show ring and kept for pleasure. Some of the most famous Clydesdales are the teams that make up the hitches of the Budweiser Clydesdales.
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