The Clydesdale combines quality and size without grossness and bulk. It has
a quiet temperament and active paces; a strong, intelligent head with a
broad forehead, wide muzzle, large nostrils, bright clear eyes and big ears.
It has a long well arched neck and sloping shoulders with high withers. A
short back and well sprung ribs and muscular hindquarters; straight limbs
with forelegs set well under the shoulders, long pasterns with plenty of
fine feather set around large, round, open feet. The horse's active paces
reveal the inside of every shoe, which should be visible to anyone walking
behind. It stands at between 16.2 and 17.2 h.h. and is usually bay, brown or
black with plenty of white on the face and legs. Often the white runs up the
legs onto the body, in particular as flashes on the stomach.
It is a Scottish draught horse that originated in the Clyde Valley,
Lanarkshire, where the local mares, a hardy native breed, were crossed with
heavier Flemish stallions that were imported at the beginning of the
eighteenth century. Because of the huge demand for a strong draught horse
for farm and mining work, the breed quickly flourished. Great emphasis has
been given to breeding this horse with sound legs and feet, and for such a
big animal, the Clydesdale is extremely active.
One of the most famous and influential stallions in the development of the
breed was a dark brown stallion called Prince of Wales, foaled in Ayrshire
in 1866. He was a mixture of English and Scottish blood and had outstanding
paces. His stud fee was £40, a considerable sum for those days, but well
worth paying as his offspring fetched anywhere from £2000 to £3000.
The Clydesdale's docile nature, combined with elegance, great activity and
soundness, has endeared heavy horse enthusiasts all over the world. Like the
Shire it has been exported, often in large numbers, to many countries
requiring good draught horses.