There are a lot of different horse breeds on the planet, and it can be hard to distinguish all the differences. But that’s where we can help!
Clydesdales certainly aren’t an average horse breed, and there are several things that make them stand out from the rest. From size to temperament, this blog will identify the key differences that define a horse’s type. We’ll also look at what the differences are when it comes to the Clydesdale breed vs regular horse breeds.
What Is A Clydesdale Horse?
A Clydesdale horse is what’s known as a draught horse (or draft horse in the US). These horses are larger than most other horse breeds and were developed before the many sportier breeds that we know today.
They originated in Scotland and were used as war horses due to their strength, size, and their ability to stay calm in chaotic environments. Once newer, lighter breeds were needed, however, Clydesdales were more commonly used for farm work.
Back when these horses were first bred, they weren’t as big as modern Clydesdales. This is because, through selective breeding, people started to make these horses taller.
What Is A Regular Horse?
The term “regular horse” is a really broad one because all horses are different in some way or another. There are different types of horses and that means that there are going to be different characteristics for each breed.
With that being said, there are a number of common characteristics that many horses have. So, when looking at a Clydesdale vs a “regular horse” you’d be looking at these common features.
Differences Between Clydesdale Horses and Regular Horses
Now that we’ve determined what Clydesdale horses are and how they compare to “regular horses”, we can look at all the differences that make Clydesdales stand out from most other horses.
One of the most obvious things that make Clydesdales different to regular horses is their size. Being a draught horse, a Clydesdale is a much bigger breed than most other horses, standing at an average height of 16 to 18 hands tall (163 cm to 183 cm). It also weighs a lot more than most other breeds and can weigh anywhere from 770 kg to over 1,000 kg.
When it comes to regular horses, they’re generally smaller and a lot lighter than Clydesdales. Since “regular horses” is a broad category, the sizes are quite broad too. Heights range from 14 to 17 hands tall (142 cm to 173 cm), and the weight of regular horses ranges from 375 kg to 600 kg.
Clydesdales are generally bay in colour with white markings on the face and white socks on their lower legs. This is the most popular colour when it comes to the Clydesdale breed, but you can also find them in black, grey, chestnut, and even roan if you look hard enough.
Almost all of these come with white markings, but it’s possible to find Clydesdales without white markings too.
On the other hand, regular horses come in a much larger variety of colours (since the term includes a much larger range of breeds). These colours can include the same colours that are found in a Clydesdale, as well as additional colours such as white, palomino, dun, sorrel, perlino, and much more.
Regular horses can also come with a large variety of different patterns on their coats. These can include overo, tobiano, leopard, and blanket patterns.
Here we see an 18 hand high Clydesdale next to a 15 hand high Fresian. Read more about the breeds here
Leg feathers are another standout feature of the Clydesdale breed. This is when the hair at the bottom of their legs is long and thick, making it look as if they have feathers around their lower legs, almost covering their hooves. Another breed of horse that has similar leg feathers is the Gypsy Vanner horse.
When it comes to regular horses, it’s possible for them to have some longer hair on their legs, but if this is the case, it’s usually very little.
A regular horse doesn’t have the same purpose as a Clydesdale, but they do have some similarities. As we’ve already mentioned, Clydesdales are draught horses and are therefore great for heavy-duty work such as working on farms and pulling heavy loads.
Regular horses don’t have the same strength as Clydesdales and are better suited simply as riding horses or show horses depending on the breed.
A great thing about Clydesdales is that, in addition to being very strong, they too make great riding horses and show horses. In fact, they have done very well in competitions as show horses and have therefore become more popular in that area.
Compared to a regular horse, Clydesdale horses don’t really have a greatly different lifespan. Clydesdales tend to live up to between 20 and 25 years old, while regular horses generally have a slightly longer life expectancy of between 25 and 30 years old.
There will, of course, always be outliers in this category and you may have a horse that lives a few years past 30.
Clydesdales are known as “cold-blooded” horses. This means that they have a gentle nature and overall calm temperament, and are therefore not spooked very easily. This makes them great for high-stress environments, which is one of the reasons they’re frequently used in parades.
Regular horses are often referred to as “warm-blooded” or “hot-blooded” horses. Similarly to the way cold-blooded horses are described, the terms “warm-blooded” and “hot-blooded” mainly refer to varying levels of their ability to get spooked; hot-blooded being the easiest to spook and quite fiery.
In addition to their ability to get spooked, each term can also be used to describe the general purpose of each horse. Cold-blooded horses are usually draught horses used for slow, heavy work. Hot-blooded horses are generally very spirited and have high speeds and endurance, and warm-blooded horses are somewhere between the two.
Are Clydesdales good riding horses?
Despite being a draught horse, a Clydesdale horse is a great riding horse. They’re known to have a smooth gait, which is what makes them enjoyable riding horses. They also have a very calm temperament, don’t spook easily, and are intelligent horses – all contributing to a great riding experience.
What breed of horse is bigger than a Clydesdale?
Depending on whether you look at weight or height there are either one or two horses that are bigger than a Clydesdale horse. Belgian draught horses (also known as Belgian horses or Belgian draft horses in the US) are usually slightly shorter than Clydesdales, but their average weight range is heavier.
The largest horse breed is the Shire horse. Shire horses are larger in both height and weight when compared to every other horse in the world and the world record for the biggest horse is held by a Shire horse.
What two breeds make a Clydesdale?
Clydesdales were created in the early 18th century in Scotland by mixing Flemish stallions and local mares. Shires were also later introduced into Clydesdale breeding.