Clydesdale side saddle

Can You Ride A Clydesdale Horse?

Can You Ride A Clydesdale Horse?

Yes! You can ride a Clydesdale horse, and it’s becoming more and more popular!

In fact, at Strathorn Farm we were some of the early pioneers of ridden Clydesdales.

Back in 2002, Sam Weir, our Australian Groom, decided she wanted to ride our Clydesdale – Sir Lancelot – at the Royal Highland Show.

There were two problems

  1. There was no class for ridden Clydesdales

  2. Sam had a broken leg and was in a full plaster cast…

So what to do? Sam found a class she could enter on a technicality – the Ridden Hunter class. The class did not specify which breed the horse had to be.

Can you ride a Clydesdale side saddle?

Yes you can, and it’s a great way to ride

So how did she solve the next problem? The broken leg? Well Sam was never one to let a little thing like that stand in her way so she rode Side Saddle.

Well, this REALLY upset the establishment. Their fine boned perfectly manicured show ponies were outshone by a thundering giant of a Clydesdale… They were particularly upset when Sam and Sir Lancelot took the Best Turned out prize!

Sam Riding Jake “Sir Lancelot of Strathorn” Side saddle at the Royal Highland Show in 2002

Are Clydesdales Comfortable To Ride?

Clydesdales are surprisingly comfortable to ride, so long as you can get in the saddle! These horses aren’t as wide as you might think, as they aren’t usually too bulky, so riding them is comfortable!

The most nerve-racking aspect of riding a Clydesdale is the height that you will be sitting at.

At the withers, these horses get to be about 18 hands tall (1.8 metres), and a rider’s eyes will usually be at least another metre higher than that!

You get a great view on your ride!

Benefits Of Riding A Clydesdale

There are lots of amazing benefits to riding a Clydesdale horse. The obvious is that they are beautiful animals and deserve to be appreciated, but there’s more than that. We’ll look at these benefits below.

Smooth Gait

Clydesdales are known for their impressively smooth gait. This makes riding them an absolute pleasure, and you won’t be jolted around.

These animals will give you a smooth ride no matter whether you’re walking, trotting, or cantering.

They are also usually very easy to control on a ride, but of course the level of training plays a huge role in this.

Gentle Giants

The size of a Clydesdale might be intimidating, but they truly are gentle giants. They are cool and collected, and docile in almost every environment.

Don’t Spook Easily

Following on from the above, because Clydesdales are so docile, they rarely spook! This is a great characteristic for any horse, but especially if they are used for hacking or trail rides.

Nature is unpredictable, and having a horse that spooks easily while on a trail isn’t something you want.

These heavy horses have a long history as draught horses, pulling carriages, and working in logging and agriculture.

Up until recently, these horses were not popular for riding, however more and more people are coming to appreciate this Scottish breed, it’s found its way off the farm fields and into the arena.

Should You Choose to Clydesdale Horse Riding Over Other

Horse Breeds?

There are many instances where some horse breeds will come out on top for different sports. When it comes to Clydesdales, you should know that these horses aren’t well suited to everything.

However, they are excellent in many areas that other breeds fail in. Read on to learn about these.

Can Clydesdales be racehorses?

Yes, in fact there are Clydesdale races

Unsurprisingly, Clydesdales are not built for the racecourse.

While they can gallop up to 20mph, their speeds don’t compare to breeds like the Arabian (up to 40mph), Thoroughbred (up to 44 mph) or Quarter horse (up to 55mph).

However, there are Clydesdale races! So, these horses can easily be trained for their specialty races.

Can Clydesdales Jump?

They can Jump! Although they are heavy, and they have large, heavy hooves. You can use them for small jumping, but you might not win any show jumping competitions

Can Clydesdales do Dressage?

Winning competitive dressage on a Clydesdale will be a challenge due to their large bodies, which are less nice nimble than traditional dressage breeds, however the they can and do compete in dressage.

So there is nothing stopping you, just like Sam and her broken leg competing in the Hunter class at the Royal Highland Show maybe you can be the first to compete at the Olympic Dressage on a Clydesdale

Are Clydesdales good for Trail Riding and Hacking

This is where the Clydesdale truly shines. Their temperament and endurance are perfectly suited for long rides out on the trail.

They will easily be able to maneuver over logs thanks to their long legs, but don’t forget to look up.. you will need to keep an eye out for branches that you would otherwise easily ride below on a smaller horse.

Overall Conclusion – Can You Ride Clydesdales?

You can absolutely ride Clydesdales. At our riding school, there are lots of Clydesdales that can be ridden, and people absolutely love them.

They are gentle, easy to work with, and an overall pleasure to be around. Riding a Clydesdale might be an intimidating thing to try at first – they are massive, after all.

However, they are also beautiful horses that will take care of you. You might need a helping hand to mount your noble steed, but once you’re in the saddle, all your worries will melt away.

If you’re going to ride a Clydesdale, make sure that you enjoy the view. Not everyone gets to experience a ride at such heights.

Once you finish your first ride, you will definitely want to get back in the saddle and spend more time with your gentle giant.

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