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Those Famous Budweiser Horses
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Those Famous Budweiser Horses

 I recently got interested in the Clydesdale breed after watching a documentary about them on TV, featuring a British actor Martin Clunes who owns a pair of these horses, and uses them to work the land on his farm. This is a breed of very large and super-strong working horse who originated in Britain in the 18th century. You probably know them as the mascots of Budweiser beer! The adverts use teams of eight giant Clydesdales. They stand at more than 18 hands high (about six feet!) and weigh more than a ton.

They were derived from farm horses in Scotland and are named after the area they come from, Clydesdale, now Lanarkshire. The breed is said to have originated in the mid-18th century, when Flemish stallions were imported to Scotland and crossed with local mares. It seems that it was the Sixth Duke of Hamilton who brought the first stallion from abroad to breed with his mare, and that started the line which quickly gained popularity. Curiously, they began as one of the smallest draught breeds, and are now one of the largest. This came about as a result of selective breeding in the 1940s onwards, when owners wanted to increase the size for show and work purposes.

They are very often bay in colour with distinctive white markings. They were traditionally used for heavy labour as carthorses, for hauling coal and as warhorses for more than 200 years. The first recorded use of this breed name was in 1826. In 1877 the Clydesdale Horse Society was established in Scotland and then in the 19th century many of these horses were exported to Australia and New Zealand, besides other countries, and became very well known as the main Australian working (draught) horse. The Commonwealth Clydesdale Horse Society was formed as a result of this in 1918.

The Queen of England was so impressed with a Clydesdale she saw pulling milk cart that she put them into Royal Service as drum carriers for the Household Cavalry Band, and now they are used on many state occasions in Britain. (see the accompanying picture, showing their Scottish heritage).

As farms became increasingly mechanised throughout the 20th century, this breed became almost extinct. There are now about 800 Clydesdales in the UK and around 5000 worldwide. Despite the fact that they have become rare, their popularity is enjoying a resurgence, as now more and more people are taking to owning these horses, for showing and driving, logging or even to ride them.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. Your votes and comments are always appreciated.

Picture courtesy of www.news.bbc.co.uk

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  1. naturegirl
    They're gorgeous and stunning. Incredible. voted! don't forget about my new piece too, please!
    1. Chestnut Mare
      Chestnut Mare
      Yes they are very striking, aren't they? Especially with their feathered legs! I've just voted and commented on yours.
  2. Queenie Gold
    Nice blog, voted.
  3. Rene Wright
    Rene Wright
    Voted. Love the Clydes!
  4. sweedly
    I think they are very beauitiful and strong. I love watching the Clydesdales in commercials around super bowl time, and had hoped to see them in person someday. Thats for the history and info. Voted!
  5. jst4horses
    My Dad lived on a rez for some years that had small farms. He was friends with the local humane society Director, who often just kept the animals on his own ranch until he found homes for them, or they found homes. He had an abandoned Clysdale. It was so kind. His tiny children would perch up on top and ride around the ranch with no tack at all. When I worked at Santa Anita, the Clysdales from Budweiser opened big stakes day races. My friend Nancy was one of the grooms, and braided up their manes and tails and put in the ribbons each time they went out. She taught me to sit on their huge withers and put in the braids and ribbons. She also taught me to wash and dry those amazing fetlocks. My son was awed when he got to assist the day to day handlers and learn the exacting and time consuming process it is to get them all into harness and in order and how to handle ALL those reins. These big animals, as most draft horses, were also used for real knight events. The armor was so heavy the knights had to be lifted by cranes, and the horses had to be massive to carry them. The movies have changed the whole reality of those old traditional Knights and jousting. In most of the events today lighter, fast horses are used to make it more movie and fan friendly. In those days it was the pomp and circumstance, even though it was still a dangerous part of the knights and their horses.

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