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Breed Organization Information

Clydesdale Breeders of the U.S.A.
Betty Groves, Secretary
17346 Kelley Road
Pecatonica, IL 61063
Tel: (815)247-8780
Fax: (815) 247-8337
[email protected]

About the Breed

The Clydesdale is a breed of heavy draft horse developed in and deriving its name from the district in Scotland where it was founded. Its type was evolved by the farmers of Lanarkshire, through which the River Clyde flows. The old name for Lanarkshire was Clydesdale.

It was bred to meet not only the agricultural needs of these farmers, but the demands of commerce for the coalfields of Lanarkshire and for all types of heavy haulage on the streets of Glasgow. The breed thus developed and soon acquired more than a local reputation. In time, the breed spread throughout the whole of Scotland and northern England.

The district system of hiring stallions was an early feature of Scottish agriculture and did much to standardize and fix the type of the breed. The records of these hiring societies go back in some cases to 1837. The Clydesdale Horse Society was formed in 1877 and has been an active force in promoting the breed not only in Great Britain but throughout the world. The Clydesdale Breeders of the United States is the member organization for the Clydesdale horse. The Association was incorporated on December 4, 1879 as the American Clydesdale Association with members from both the United States and Canada. The first volume of the stud book was ready for distribution at the fourth Annual Meeting in the fall of 1882. The Clydesdale alone, of the British breeds of heavy draft, has enjoyed a steady export trade to all parts of the world. The most active trade has been to commonwealth countries and the United States. The Clydesdale remains popular, though not a numerical leader in Canada and the United States.

Breed Characteristics

The outstanding characteristics of this renowned horse are a combination of weight, size and activity, and what is looked for first and last by a Clydesdale enthusiast is the exceptional wearing qualities of feet and limbs. The feet must be round and open with hoof heads wide and springy, for any suspicion of contraction might lead to sidebones or ringbones. To some extent, the further requirements of this breed vary somewhat from the orthodox and should be noted. The horse must have action, but not exaggerated, the inside of every shoe being made visible to anyone walking behind. The forelegs must be well under the shoulders, not carried bull-dog fashion, in fact must hang straight from shoulder to fetlock joint, with no openness at the knee, yet with no inclination to knock. The hind legs must be similar, with the points of the hocks turned inwards rather than outwards, and the pasterns must be long. Distinctive long, silky hair below the knees and hocks draw attention to the stylish lifting of the feet at the trot.

The head must have an open forehead, broad across the eyes, the front of the face must be flat, neither dished nor roman, wide muzzle, large nostrils and a bright, clear, intelligent eye. A well-arched and long neck must spring out of an oblique shoulder with high withers, while the back should be short, with well-sprung ribs, and, as befits a draught horse, the thighs must be packed with muscle and sinew. The most common colors in the Clydesdale breed are bay, black and brown. Roans (solid body color with white hairs throughout the coat) are also seen with some occasional chestnuts. White is seen on the face and legs with white often running into the body. The show ring does not discriminate on color with light roans and horses with dark legs being considered equally with horses of the more solid colors and traditional markings.

It is claimed of the Clydesdale that they are possessed of quality and weight without displaying grossness and bulk, this is largely true. They are certainly active movers for their size and weight, and in consequence, are very popular in many cities and on numerous farms. The Clydesdale generally stands from 16 to 18 hands, and weighs from 1700 to 2000 pounds. Some of the mature stallions and geldings are taller and weigh up to 2200 pounds.

Modern Clydesdale

The Clydesdale Horse is increasingly popular as a pleasure horse, playing an ever expanding role in the field of recreation. Owners of acreage, businessmen, farmers and light horse enthusiasts are ever more aware of the challenge offered in breeding, foaling, developing and training a Clydesdale. As in all breeds of livestock, the Clydesdale has gone through several changes of emphasis over the years to meet the demands of the times. In the 20s and 30s the demand was for a more compact horse; of late, it has been for a taller, hitchier horse. With the changes in size and type of horse wanted, the Clydesdale emphasis on underpinning has remained paramount.

Breed Organizations

The Clydesdale Breeders of the U. S. A. is a very active organization with many planned activities and events. A National Clydesdale Show along with certain Regional Shows throughout the country are held each year. Along with these events a National Clydesdale Sale is held every April along with the Annual Meeting. The Clydesdale Breeders of the U.S.A. are very dedicated to promoting the Clydesdale.