The Clydesdale horse is probably best known as the regal equine from Budweiser beer commercials. But the Clydesdale was originally used as a heavy draft horse in its native Scotland. Despite his imposing size, the Clydesdale is quite docile and gentle. Loved throughout the world, the Clydesdale has an air of elegance and great strength. A lively and active breed, the Clydesdale is a hardy and long-lived horse.
History and Origin
For centuries, Scots have relied on strong draft horses to work the fields, haul coal and pull carriages. These horses were also used in war. Eventually, different breeds began to emerge. The Clydesdale originated in Lanarkshire, an area previously known as Clydesdale, named for the River Clyde, which flows through it.
In the 18th century, Flemish draft horses, Friesian stallions and local mares were bred. The resulting offspring were originally referred to as clydesman's horses. Eventually, they were called the Clydesdale and officially debuted at the Glasgow exhibition of 1826. The breed quickly became known as the strongest horse around, able to pull loads weighing more than a ton at a walking speed of 5 mph. Since their debut, the Clydesdale has been exported to various countries throughout the world.
By 1877, the Clydesdale horse society was founded and the first stud book was published in 1878. As with many other draft horses, the Clydesdale suffered a decline in popularity when mechanization replaced horses. By 1980, this breed was so uncommon it was nearly on the rare breed list. Today, the breed is now quite popular, owing a lot of this to the Budweiser hitch team that travels all over the world with their beautiful carriage and distinctive harnesses.
The Clydesdale is a large and impressive horse. Standing 16 to 18 hands, the horse is larger than his Scottish ancestors, and has sloping shoulders and high withers. The body is deep with a short back, wide loins and robust legs with feathers. The head is strong, intelligent and carried high. The forehead is open and broad between the eyes. The muzzle is wide with large nostrils, big ears, bright, clear eyes and a well-arched long neck.
The Clydesdale is most often bay but can also be brown or black. Most horses have a good deal of white.
Abilities and Aptitude
The Clydesdale is well known throughout the world and is intimately associated with Busch breweries, especially Budweiser beer. When Prohibition was repealed, August Busch Sr. wanted a spectacular show to introduce Budweiser beer back into circulation. After seeing Clydesdales, Augie Busch made a monumental decision. On April 7, 1933, the first post-Prohibition cases of beer were delivered through the city of St. Louis attached to an 8-horse hitch of Clydesdales. From that day on, the Clydesdale has been considered a mascot of the Busch breweries.
In order to qualify as part of the world famous Clydesdale team, the horses must be 18 hands and weigh about 2000 pounds. All horses are bay geldings with four white stockings and a blaze of white on the face. The mane and tail are black.
In addition to being part of the Busch breweries, the Clydesdale is also involved in driving and pulling competitions as well as a popular pet.