The Clydesdale Horse Society was established in
1877, almost a century and a half after the breed first began to evolve. The
primary purpose of the breed was literally as a farm workhorse - true horse
power prior to mechanisation. From the early days the reputation of the horse
grew considerably and the horse fairs held over several days in the Lanarkshire
area attracted buyers from far and wide looking for draught horses to fulfil a
variety of roles in the haulage field. The major cities of Scotland and the
North of England and Northern Ireland probably housed as many Clydesdales as
the agricultural areas did - Clydesdales were used for both short and long
distance haulage and delivery everywhere. A considerable export trade also
developed to the expanding North Americas and the Commonwealth.
Arguably the Best Stallion in the Breed at
present in the UK, 'Collessie Cut Above'.
|Early drawings of the
Clydesdales show a chunky, solid coloured horse, short and close coupled and by
the time photography came in, early examples were also mainly dark coloured
horses with four dark legs, still short coupled and very powerful. Gradually
white legs became fashionable and the breed as you see it now became more
The vast majority of Clydesdales are solid
coloured bay or brown with four white legs, the long silky feathering around
the feet being a distinctive feature, with soft, not coarse hair. As the white
colouring was introduced for the legs, in some instances this
"spread" and resulted in a roan animal, which for a time was frowned
on by the purists. However, nowadays these animals have a much wider acceptance
and indeed the main female prizewinner in 1997 at the Royal Highland Show was a
As with all heavy horses the Clydesdale breed hit a low point in the sixties
and seventies. The breed was kept alive by a number of stalwart families as
much through sentiment as anything else and happily now numbers have increased
to a fairly healthy level once more, although the breed is still classified as
"At Risk" by the Rare Breeds Society.
||New breeders are taking up this
expensive "hobby" helping to expand numbers. In 1999 114 Filly Foals
were registered along with some 90 colt foals. In all likelihood however, there
were probably a good number more colt foals born than were registered, as the
main purpose of our Stud Book is for breeding animals and as most people will
castrate colt foals they do not bother to pay the registration fee. 16
stallions were registered, stallions having to be registered prior to them
turning 3 years of age. Stallions and filly foals are parentage tested to
verify their pedigrees.
|The majority of Clydesdales
kept at present are used for breeding and showing. Those who are keen on
driving for educational or promotional purposes are increasing in number and
they usually use geldings.
|| In these more
eco-friendly and aware times, horses are being used again in environmentally
sensitive areas for extracting timber or for carrying out haulage work. Some
horses too are also used in the "Wedding Industry" for conveying
brides to church - it looks ever so good in the photographs!
The Society itself is headed by a President, Vice President, Honorary Treasurer
and Immediate Past President. The main decision making forum is the Council of
the Society which comprises 3 members from each of the 14 "Areas"
throughout Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. There are 3 Honorary
Presidents. There is a membership of around 700.
|The information and photographs
in this article are kindly provided by The Clydesdale Horse Society. For
further information on this breed,
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Updated: October 2005.