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Clydesdale Horse

By Lynn Lopez

The Clydesdale may be one of the horses with the most distinctive appearances, especially with the soft white hairs (known as "feather") around its lower legs. Its name came from the River Clyde in Lanarkshire (now Clydesdale), Scotland, where the breed was first founded. It was bred as a draft horse, taking on a lot of heavy hauling and agricultural work, and is said to be a cross between the original Clydesdale and the Shire horse.

Earlier Clydesdale horses are said to have been shorter, albeit quite strong, and eventually, white legs became the appearance of choice for this hardy breed. Nowadays, Clydesdale horses are quite big, reaching up to six feet in height and weighing up to one ton. Bay-colored Clydesdales with white legs are the most recognizable and, indeed, more preferred.


At some point, the status of the Clydesdale horse was considered to be in danger, and it was only through the efforts of breeders that its numbers grew even further. The Clydesdale Horse Society, which was founded in 1877, is one prominent group that helps spread awareness and information about this incredible horse breed. These days, the Clydesdale is still used for farm work, but it is also used for riding and particularly for showing. They are also popular choices for pulling wedding carriages, given their elegant and regal appearance.

In horse shows, judges generally look at the Clydesdale’s gait, which is supposed to be a fluid trot. The feather on its legs also help emphasize this particular movement, but another more important factor is the horse’s build: The Clydesdale should never appear to carry extra weight and must look muscular.

If you’re considering owning a Clydesdale, you will find that it is generally well-regarded, both its appearance and its demeanor, and is usually considered a "gentle giant" because it’s rather mild-mannered.

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