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Clydesdale Draft Horse

Updated on March 30, 2014
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Donna Campbell Smith is a published author, freelance writer, and photographer. She also specializes in horses.

Most Recognized Draft Breed in America


Probably the most recognized of draft horse breeds in American, thanks to beer and football, is the Clydesdale. Staring in some of the Super Bowl's most memorial commercials, the Clydesdale hitch is well known for pulling the Budweiser Beer Wagon.

Clydesdales at Quail Creek Farms, Lexington, NC

Photo by Donna Campbell Smith
Photo by Donna Campbell Smith

Developed in the 1800s in the county of Lanarkshire, Scotland (formerly known as Clydesdale) the Clydesdale's purpose was farming. According to legend the Duke of Hamilton imported six black Flemish coach stallions from Flanders. These horses were bred to domestic mares and eventually resulted in the Clydesdale.

The breed soon became an important contributor to Scotland's mining industry in addition to farming. The horse's reputation as a tractable, strong, and agile workhorse spread easily from Scotland to England, and by the late part of the century the horses were being exported to the United States and Canada.

The Clydesdale Breeders of the United States was incorporated in 1879. The horse was used in farming, forestry, and for transporting people and goods by wagon and carriage. As tractors replaced workhorses, the Clydesdales dropped in numbers in the United States. But in recent years they have become popular as carriage and show horses. Their colorful markings and showy action at the trot, the long feathering (long hair on horse's lower legs) and high head carriage give them a presence unmatched in other draft breeds.

The National Clydesdale Horse Show has run for over thirty years and offers halter classes, junior exhibitor showmanship, and various carts and hitch classes. The Clydesdale can also be found competing in events outside its breed shows in hunter, jumping and dressage. They are also popular riding horses.

Clydesdales are valued for their intelligence and willing disposition. They stand from 16 to 19 hands and weigh from 1,600 to 2,200 pounds; size should not outweigh good conformation. The Clyde has a good size foot and strong legs, which results in a sound horse with few lameness problems. The over-all conformation creates a balanced, agile horse with substance.

The 2008 National Clydesdale Sale showed this breed to have maintained a strong market, whereas the horse market has shown a huge low for many other breeds. Their top selling horse was Robyncroft Fuslier's Fire, a three-year-old gelding that sold for $20,000 to David Carson of Listowel, Ontario. Over all 135 Clydesdales were sold, averaging over $4,000 each. Nearly 1500 spectators attended the sale held in Madison, Wisconsin.

There are about 4,000 Clydesdales registered with the Clydesdale Breeders of the USA. Anheuser-Busch is the largest breeder of Clydesdales in the world with 225-250 head. The Budweiser Clydesdales are the most traveled horses in the world, logging 100,000 miles per year to appear in parades, festivals, rodeos, horse shows, and other events. The company has five eight-horse hitches that travel all over North America and sometimes overseas.

Photo by Donna Campbell Smith
Photo by Donna Campbell Smith


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      Juliet 6 years ago

      An email from 2008... Last week we visited Morpeth. Suddenly the sound of pounding hooves filled the air and like a vision from the past a majestic Clydesdale mare with her wagon trotted by and stoped. Soon she was surrounded. “ Admiration can’t buy her food , hop on V take you for a ride” proclaimed the driver. Like stepping back in time we climbed on board. The big authentic looking carriage pulled by this powerful and loyal horse rumpled passed century old buildings. The pounding of her enormous hooves the smell and snorting compelled us to reflect on our ancestors and the horse that build this Nation. Singing a song to the beat of the clip clop while holding the reins was the highlight for the children. For us Morpeth is simply the town where Juliet lives....Now 3 years later 15000 people who came for a ride agree, no other Town near Sydney offers such variety of unique stores ,restaurants ,historic buildings natural beauty and a Horse Carriage. Juliet and I are proud to contribute to the charm of Morpeth. Hop on and keep us on the job keep Morpeth look the part. Hay !

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      Michelle 7 years ago

      Clip e c l o p clip e c l o p

      J u liet swings her f e e t

      Young and old come running out

      When she trots down the s t r e e t

      She likes to pull her c a r t

      And looks so strong and s m a r t

      Hop on to keep her on the job

      keep M o r peth look a p a r t

    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Oh, that's beautiful. Thanks for sharing it.

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      Dieter Hartmann 8 years ago

      Juliet the majestic Clydesdale mare pulling her Carriage

      is like a vision from the past and the clip clop of her massive feet

      an echo from days gone by. I’m sure you agree

      Morpeth is in a league of its own with Juliet roaming the streets

      Help to keep her in Morpeth … come for a ride and experience a

      unique Encounter with Juliet the horse and a German Settler who likes to

      reflect on the history and human endeavour.

    • profile image

      obxdeborah 9 years ago

      Budweiser has a barn at Sea World.  I went in May and was surprised to find the Donkey in the barn too.  He sure was short compared to all of those big draft horses!