A complete guide to Clydesdale horses

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The Clydesdale is a highly recognizable draft horse breed originating from farms in the Clydesdale district of Scotland. Clydesdale horses are graceful, calm and well known for their distinctive appearance, including their signature long, strong, feathered legs and so-called "bald face" white facial markings.


The Clydesdale horse breed is believed to be at least 300 years old, if not older, though there are no official records that can verify the date of origin. Historically used for labor, Clydesdale horses were used to pull milk carts and vendor wagons in the United Kingdom and the United States well into the 1960s.


Nowadays, the Clydesdale is most commonly used in parades and exhibitions. A consummate show horse, it also participates in performance events and harness races. Like Tennessee Walking Horses, Clydesdales are also used for pleasure riding, especially by inexperienced riders who find their docile nature and smooth trot comfortable and safe.


Body Size: Clydesdale breeders note that these horses are among the largest domesticated equines on the planet. They can reach heights of as much as 20 hands high (hh; a "hand" being a unit of equine measurement equivalent to approximately 4 inches), or roughly 80 inches. Their heavy, muscular bodies can also weigh as much as 2,000 pounds.

Color and Patterns: Normally, Clydesdale horses have a shade of brown (bay or sorrel) or black as their dominant coat color. Their faces usually have a unique white blaze, and their leg hair is sometimes darker than their body hair. The legs also feature white hair, which can extend up the leg and merge with the white underbelly hair.

Caring for a Clydesdale

Feeding: Animals with low to moderate activity levels should be fed a diet of horse feed and minerals, with one feeding in the morning and one in the evening. Horses intended for shows or competitions have special dietary requirements which should be discussed with a professional.

Grooming: Every domesticated horse should have its hooves inspected on a daily basis to ensure there are no signs of infection or injury. Clydesdale horses have wispy manes that may require extra grooming, though mane and coat care are esthetic concerns at the discretion of the animal's owner.

Health Problems: Many a Clydesdale breeder has noted that these horses are particularly prone to a skin condition colloquially known as "the itch," which affects the lower part of the leg where the animal's fur feathers. Clydesdale horses are also prone to sunburn, given the lack of pigmentation on their faces.

Life Expectancy: When proper horse health is maintained, these animals usually reach an age of 20 to 25 years.

Find a Clydesdale for Sale

To find a Clydesdale for sale in your area, check with the Clydesdale Horse Society for a registered local breeder and advice on what to look for in a trustworthy vendor.

The prices of Clydesdale horses for sale vary depending on the age of the animal. Newborn foals are available at the lowest rates. Yearlings and two-year-olds command premiums. Prices also vary according to the animal's parentage and pedigree.