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The Clydesdale is a breed of draft horse derived from the farm horses of Clydesdale, Scotland, and named after that region. Thought to be over 300 years old, the breed was extensively used for pulling heavy loads in rural, industrial and urban settings, their common use extending into the 1960s when they were still a familiar sight pulling the carts of milk and vegetable vendors. They have been exported in the Commonwealth and United States where they are famous for their use as the mascot of various beer brands, including Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser brand, Carlton & United Beverages and several others. At one time there were at least 140,000 Clydesdales known in Scotland; by 1949 just 80 animals were licensed in England and by 1975 the Rare Breed Survival Trust had listed the breed as "vulnerable". Clydesdales have since seen resurgence in popularity and population, resulting in the breed's status being reclassified favorably as "at risk" with an estimated global population of just 5,000 individuals. Clydesdales are now most numerous in the United States where recently over 600 foals are reportedly born each year.
Appearance: Clydesdales are noted for grace and versatility; they stand on average between 16 - 17 hands in height(the current world-record holding Clydesdale is 20 hands). They can weigh up to a ton (2,000 pounds). A Clydesdale has an elegant head, with a straight profile; a convex profile is frowned upon, small ears, large, dark eyes and a heavy forelock. The neck is long and slightly arched the chest deep; the shoulders are well sloped and muscular. The action is energetic and ground covering. The Clydesdale tends to exhibit a longer coupling than its cousin, the Shire and the withers are clearly defined. The rump presents a well-muscled and distinctively rounded silhouette. The legs should be long and strong with characteristically large hoof size, typically being at least twice the diameter of those of a light riding horse, such as a Thoroughbred. The pasterns are longer and sloping than those of a stock-type horse. Perhaps the most widely recognized feature of the Clydesdale's appearance is the abundance of feather, the long hairs that fall from just below the knees and hocks to cover the hooves. The need for body cooling in warmer climates leads over time to a slightly leaner-built animal.
Movement: The characteristic action of a Clydesdale is demonstrated at a trot; an animated gait with high hoof action in both the front and rear. Despite its large size, the Clydesdale presents with an energetic quality described by the Clydesdale Horse Society as "gaiety of carriage and outlook."
Color: Clydesdales may be of several possible colors, including various shades of bay (sometimes called brown), chestnut (sometimes called sorrel) or black. Clydesdales have a range of characteristic white markings which are generally present regardless of body color. The most distinctive are four white feet and a blaze, most often a full blaze or large, white "bald face" marking which extends to the lips and chin and may also extend to the eye region. White on the legs sometimes does not extend much above the feather, but in many cases, when a horse carries the Sabino coloring pattern, it can extend up the greater part of the leg and even merge with a white underbelly. The Sabino gene can also be expressed more dramatically, spreading white hairs from the belly up the horse's sides creating an effect that is referred to in the draft breeds as roan. A chestnut or bay horse with this Sabino expression is typically referred to as a "strawberry roan" and a black horse with the same pattern is called a "blue roan" by many Clydesdale enthusiasts. In North America, "high white" markings are favored, and bay predominates. In Scotland, a large number of roan horses are exhibited.With the widespread inheritance of the Sabino pattern, the feather tends to be white, but can be black or chestnut, depending on the color of the leg markings and the presence of markings. This trait developed as a result of native stock and breeding with Flemish horses.On the other hand, Clydesdales can also have one or more dark legs, either mixed with white hairs, or a solid shade of black or brownish-red. Hooves will match the corresponding leg color, dark or light, at the point where the skin of the leg meets the hoof wall, sometimes resulting in a striped or two-toned hoof. Horses with white muzzles often have distinctive black spots around the lips and chin.
For more information please contact: The Clydesdale Horse Society - www.clydesdalehorsesociety.com