Clydesdale FAQs

Welcome to the fascinating world of Clydesdale horses. We know a thing or two about them at Strathorn, having brought them here in 1939 to work the land and now using this versatile breed in our riding school, for dressage, pulling our covered wagon for pleasure rides and our ever popular musical drill rides. George and Ruth Skinner have dedicated their lives to preserving and diversifying this beautiful gentle giant horse breed and we often get asked a lot of questions about them.

We have put together this Frequently Asked Question page to help you learn more about our favourite horses

How tall are Clydesdale horses?

Clydesdales typically range in height from around 16 to 18.2 hands. There are always exceptions of course and the biggest Clydesdales on record are Poe from Ontario who was 20.2 hands and Remington from Texas who was also 20.2 hands. Our own big boy King Edward is 18 hands high.

King Edward is 18 hands high. Imagine Remington and Poe being nearly a whole foot higher!

How much can a Clydesdale horse pull?

A Clydesdale can pull between 1 and 4 tonnes of weight. Why the big range? Well it depends how the load is supported. There are draft horse pulling competitions where the weight is on a sledge. In this case a Clydesdale would be able to pull around 1 tonne. However if the weight is put on wheels a single horse could easily move 4 tonnes along a flat road. As soon as you come to a hill, the poor horse wouldn’t make it up though. That’s where their friends come in and horses are put into pairs or teams of 4 or even 6 so they can pull even heavier loads. Of course you can just keep adding horses, although they become harder to handle! The world record is a 50 horse hitch when on the 13th of August 1995, fifty Clydesdale horses were hitched together in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Navan Fair. That’s a lot of horse power!

Why do Clydesdales have hairy feet?

Clydesdales have hairy feet due to the large legs and hooves they have. Take a look at finer boned horses. Smaller feet and thinner legs equal less hair. But why is that? Well, the more dense the bone the more hair the horse will have on it feet. There are various theories around this but the most likely one is that the larger and denser the bone, the more the blood flow and the more bone marrow there is. Bone marrow is essential for white blood cells and stem cells, and the blood carries these along with other nutrients to the hair follicles, which in turn stimulates growth.

Of course, these hairy feet are an advantage for horses that live in cold climates. By keeping their feet warm this stops a lot of heat loss from the core. There is nothing worse on a winters day than cold feet, but Clydesdales have this solved!

Why do clydesdales have hairy feet

Our yearlings keeping warm in the snow with their big hairy feet

Are Clydesdales smart?

Well, just ask George Skinner, about this one. As he says, “They have tremendous brains, just look at the size of their heads!”. There is no standardised test for horse intelligence, but we can share our experience of working with them. We work with Police Scotland to provide them with Police horses, and the Clydesdales they get are always on the beat younger and more quickly than other breeds. We put this down to their ability to learn more quickly than other breeds, as well as their calm temperament. We have also provided Police Scotland with Clydesdale x Connemara horses, they make the grade very quickly too.

Are Clydesdales friendly?

Yes, Clydesdales are extremely friendly. Their docile nature is what makes them so easy to break to ride and drive. We even use them as Thera-pets, like when we took Windsor to visit Sandy on his 90th Birthday. Sandy used to work with Clydesdales as a boy and it really brightened his spirits. Their good nature is an invaluable way to help with mental health, anyone who spends time with them can attest to the positive energy they get from spending time with these gentle giants.

Clydesdales are extremely friendly and give a big boost to mental health and wellbeing

Clydesdale meets man on his 90th Birthday

Windsor meeting Sandy on his 90th Birthday. Sandy ploughed with Clydesdales as a boy

Are their Black Clydesdales?

Yes, although they are quite rare. We are lucky enough to have a black mare called Ella. Ella is a big favourite around Aberdeenshire, as well as being a real pleasure to ride. In fact Catriona, one of our instructors took first place with her in the ridden Clydesdale class at Lourin fair in August 2022.

Catriona takes first place in the ridden class on Ella, our black Clydesdale Mare

How heavy are Clydesdales?

Clydesdales weigh between 700 and 1000kg. The heaviest Clydesdale to have ever lived is believed to be King LeGear, weighing in at 1340kg. It takes a lot of hay to make that much horse!

Why do Budweiser use Clydesdales?

Beer was once illegal in the USA, in an era called “prohibition”. To celebrate the end of prohibition in America, August A Busch Jnr arranged a red, white and gold beer wagon pulled by a team of Clydesdales as a gift for his father. Budweiser then used the Clydesdales and the wagon to carry the first case of beer in the prohibition free era from their St. Louis brewery.

The Clydesdales then went on a promotional tour around the Eastern states, even stopping off at the Whitehouse to deliver Franklin D Roosevelt a case of Bud…. Whasssapppp Franklin….

Prohibition was over, America was back on the beer and Clydesdales were happily helping to hand it out.

George Skinner driving a similar vehicle to the Budweiser Wagon on his 84th Birthday at the World Clydesdale Show 2022. Photo credit: Michelle Martin Randolph.

How fast are Clydesdales?

Clydesdales with a rider can gallop at 20mph. This was measured during a charity race at Exeter in 2013 when 5 Clydesdales belonging to Tim Ancrum, of Adventure Clydesdales, Dartmoor went head to head. The Clydesdale Tom Parker won. His winning ways were proven not to be a fluke when he and jockey Keiron Edgar retuned the next year to take first place once again. Without a rider Clydesdales could reach up to 30 mph for a short period.

How can I buy a Clydesdale?

We can help, just get in touch at . We are one of the many Clydesdale breeders Scotland has. We sometimes have Clydesdales for sale. We have helped many people source their very own Clydesdale. We have sourced them for local, national and international owners. We have provided Clydesdales and Clydesdale crosses to Police Scotland, A family in Sweden and even a mare and foal for the Sultan of Oman. They went on to become drum horses in his military parades. If we don’t have what you are looking for we will be able to put you in contact with the right people.

Below: Police Constable Strathorn Skye. Connemara x Clydesdale. Working for Police Scotland.

Connemara x Clydesdale police horse

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