Family: Equidae Clydesdale PictureClydesdale draft horse at the Maryland State FairEquus caballusPhoto Wiki-Commons: Courtesy USDA image by Bill Tarpenning
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Our Clydesdale has growths under her feathers about 4 inches up from backside of all four of her hooves. They look like duclaws or very weird growing nails. Any... (more)  JeffandDebbie Conwell

   The Clydesdale is one of the most popular heavy horses in the world!

Clydesdales is the quintessential embodiment of the familiar draft horse. They are beautiful movers with a high stepping gait, which made them popular as flashy carriage horses. Today they are popular in the show ring and as fancy carriage horses. The most well-known Clydesdales are the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales.

The Clydesdale was bred to have large, well-proportioned feet and sound legs for walking on hard, cobblestone roads. They have longer legs and a more streamlined body than most draft breeds. The name 'Clydesdale' is from the Clyde Valley in Lanarkshire, Scotland (previously known as Clydesdale) where it is believed to have originated. It is the only living heavy horse from Scotland.

These draft horses were traditionally used to pull carts and carriages until the development of the automobile in the 1930's. As the Clydesdales tend to be too large to fit in furrows, they were not well suited for use as plow horses. They have been used in the United Kingdom as ceremonial drum horses in many royal processions. The Drum Horses lead the Household Calvary, ridden by drummers who work the reins with their feet while holding drumsticks in their hands.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Perissodactyla
  • Family: Equidae
  • Genus: Equus
  • Species: caballus
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Horse Breeds

The Clydesdale is known as a Draft Horse or Heavy horse. The Draft horse is also known as the Draught Horse or Dray Horse. 'Dray' is a word derived from the Anglo-Saxon term for 'to haul' or 'to draw'.
Draft horses are large and hardy, much heavier and broader than the light horses. The breeds in this horse class are referred to as cold blood breeds, in reference to their quiet and calm temperament. They are heavy in the body and strong legged. Many of the draft horses have the characteristic "feather", or long hair, covering their large hooves.

Horse Backgrounds

The Clydesdale is thought to have originated in the Clyde Valley in Lanarkshire, Scotland with the mixing of local mares with Flemish stallions in the mid 1700's. The breed was founded by the 6th Duke of Hamilton and the breeder John Paterson, who intended the breed for pulling carts for the nearby coal mines. The horses were bred to have large, well-proportioned feet and sound legs for walking on hard, cobblestone roads. The have longer legs than other draft breeds and having "cow hocks" is an acceptable breed standard that allows their large feet to fit into the furrows for plowing.

They were first shown to the rest of the world at a world’s fair called the Glasgow Exhibition in 1826, and began being exported to do farm work in other countries. By the 1930’s, farm horses were replaced by tractors and automobiles put carriage horses out of work, causing the Clydesdale population to decline. The breed was in danger of dying out, but in the 1960’s, Clydesdales became popular in the show ring and as fancy carriage horses. They are currently one of the most popular heavy horses in the world.


The modern Clydesdale stands at 16.2-18 hands high and has a straight facial profile and long legs with long, silky hair called "feather." They have longer legs and more streamlined bodies than most draft breeds. When walking behind them and the legs are straight is said to be 'close behind'. It where they place one huge back hoof exactly in front of the other as if they were walking along a single ploughed furrow. Cow hocks are considered a feature of the Clydesdale breed, although it is often seen as poor conformation in horses. The "cow hock" is a condition where the tarsal joint of the hind leg is set inward resulting in a splayed look, or a "knock knee" appearance.
They are beautiful movers with a high stepping gait, which has made them popular as flashy carriage horses. The most common Clydesdale colors are bay, brown, black, chestnut, and roan. Clydesdale markings generally consist of a white stripe on the face or a bald face and white lower legs

Horse Care and Feeding

The Clydesdales are large horses. They eat about twice as much as other horses, which is about 25 to 50 pounds of hay a day, plus about 5 pounds of concentrated feed if they are being exercised.
Since Clydesdales are large horses, they need more room than other horses. A 24' x 24' stall is the minimum size a Clydesdale should be kept in as long as they are turned out into a paddock daily.

Horse Training and Activities

The Clydesdale has a very pleasing disposition. It is proud, alert, intelligent and willing. They are commonly used for pulling carts or carriages.
In the show ring, Clydesdales are shown in halter, cart, and hitch classes. They also make good riding horses and people use them for trail riding, jumping, and dressage. Their calm personalities make them a good horse for therapeutic riding programs that help disabled people learn to walk by feeling the movements of the horse's walking.

Common Health Problems

"Scratches" or pododermititis are more prevalent in horses that are subjected to wet muddy conditions for extended periods. Horses with white feet seem also to be more susceptible to scratches.


The Clydesdale is available many parts of the world and are fairly inexpensive.


Maria Costantino, The Handbook of Horse Breeds, Barns and Noble, 2004
John Diedrich, The Clydesdale Horse, Capstone Press: Mankato, Minnesota. 2005 Author: Sandra Lloyd

Lastest Animal Stories on Clydesdale

JeffandDebbie Conwell - 2013-07-10
Our Clydesdale has growths under her feathers about 4 inches up from backside of all four of her hooves. They look like duclaws or very weird growing nails. Any idea what this is?

  • Loren - 2013-10-12
    I have been told by my farrier that these are perfectly normal, and when you get your horses feet trimmed next ask the farrier to cut them off. I have to admit I was a bit freaked out when I saw them for the first time.
  • janet gray - 2014-12-15
    What Loran is saying is correct.Our Clydesdales have them too,and the farrier cuts them off from time to time.
chyendra - 2014-01-18
I like horse stories becouse I had a horse once

  • Anonymous - 2014-03-08
    I. Love. Horses.
  • loveable - 2014-10-29
    me also
peter pickering - 2014-08-02
Re Clydesdale Horses. Small point. Your article mentioned "feathers", the long hair on the lower part of the legs. The correct term is "feather", no "S". Feathers are on birds. Sorry to be so pedantic but can someone delete the "s".

  • Anonymous - 2014-08-02
    Consider it done... These guys are definetly not flying around the barnyard..Thanks!
charli watkins - 2011-04-12
I have a clydesdale and he is so handsome his name is Merlin. Me and my mum do absolutely anything for him. He is 21 now but even though he is getting slower I think he still has alot of life left in him. He does suffer with feet problems and lots of money has gone into it and I was wondering if they are common to get problems like that? I do advise if you buy one to rug them in the winter by the time they are 18 beacuse they start using all of the food you give them to keep them warm and become anorexic.

  • Charlie Roche - 2011-04-12
    A Clydesdale is a big guy and from what I have read, many are subjected to feet problems. He is older and even us humans have foot problems as we get older. There are various foot balms that are recommended - I don't know if they work or if they help. The way I look at it is if they are natural then what can it hurt. I have a litle amazon who is 27 and he has arthritis in his toes. Now I can't give him aspirin but he gets around just fine.
  • Linda Gregson - 2013-11-28
    We have a beautiful now 12 year old mare. We have had her since she was 4. Her temperament is lovely and she is easily loved, but she has in the last 12 months had feet problems which started with Mud rash on all 4 feet. After various treatments we got rid of it on all four feet and then one came back. It has been and still is a nightmare. We are hopefully getting somewhere now. Her feet have been constantly washed with various solutions and treatments, some have helped but still not gotten rid of it. It was diagnosed as pastern dermatitis. She has also been lame. Some of the treatment I fear has caused her a foot rot/thrush condtion to her frog. That I fear was an antibiotic solution used after the wash for the last couple of months. I am now trying a Tasmanian Kunzea oil mixed with Dermosolve. Hopeful. We have her also on seaweed in her feed and have started on Echinacea to try and build some of her immune back after endless antibiotics.