It was during the 18th century in Lanarkshire, what is now Clydesdale, that the Clydesdale Horse first developed. The demands of Scottish agriculture meant that a heavy draught horse was needed to fulfil the labours of farming life, and the introduction of Flemish stallions provided the necessary bulk to the breed’s conformation.
The now heavier Clydesdale was populous throughout Scotland and northern England, and, being prized for its unmatched strength, endurance and even temperament, the Clydesdale found itself exported around the world by the late 19th century.
Capable of working tirelessly in agriculture and haulage, nothing threatened the demand for these horses, that is, until the advent of mechanisation. The Clydesdale fell from grace before the Second World War, and conscription caused breed numbers to diminish even further.
Today, this regal horse of 17 hands or more is extremely rare, having been considered close to extinction in the 1970s. Thanks to careful breeding, numbers are up, although the Clydesdale is still at risk of dying out.
The ‘Budweiser Clydesdales’ were amongst the first of these horses to be used in the United States. When prohibition was ended, a hitch of bay Clydesdales was presented as a gift to the brewery, which then transported the very first post-Prohibition beer between two breweries in St. Louis, Missouri.