They stand, tall and confident, as they are gracefully manoeuvred by their handler. These beautiful Clydesdale horses are a staple of the Anheuser-Busch advertising campaign ever since August Busch received a hitch for a present in 1933. He fell in love with the confidence and beauty exuded by these horses and they have become very recognizable due to the extensive Budweiser marketing campaigns. Even those not very familiar with different horse breeds would be able to recognize and point out a Clydesdale horse. They are seen on television, in parades and of course, on all the Budweiser advertisements.
The typical height of a Clydesdale is from 16 to 18 hands. A hand is strictly a measurement for horses and has been used since it was deemed ineffective to try to measure with a yardstick. If you are curious, a hand measures about 4 inches. The height of a horse is taken from the ground to the highest point on the horse's shoulders, known as the withers. The weight of these gigantic animals is usually around one ton, or two thousand pounds. They are known for their wonderful light brown or brown colour with pure white legs and fur that surrounds the hoofs, known as "featherings" which is a distinct Clydesdale feature.
The history of the Clydesdale horse is actually quite amazing. They were bred and created in the 18th century in an area of Scotland now known as Lanarkshire. At the time, the area was known as Clydesdale, thus giving these unique and strong horses their name, Clydesdales. The two horses used were Scottish mares and imported Flemish males which gave the Clydesdales their tremendous strength. Because during this time, men and knights fighting on horses were common, Clydesdales were a premium choice. These knights would be carrying weapons and armor that had a great weight. They would require a horse with tremendous strength, speed and dexterity: the Clydesdale. These horses were the equivalent of a heavy tank in their day. They were also put to use by farmers who need strong horses to pull big plows or by coal miners that needed loads of coal hauled over both short and long distances. This was the golden era of the Clydesdale and their population has decreased slowly since.
The Industrial Revolution brought about a harmful change for these work horses. Machines were beginning to replace animal labour and the Clydesdale soon became obsolete. The 1950s and 1960s marked the lowest total population of Clydesdales as their only use was with the Amish or with logging companies in areas with sensitive ecology.
Soon, however, the Clydesdale made its triumphant comeback by becoming a show horse with its high stepping confident walk that is a real treat to the eye. These horses are now bred for parades and other shows. Anheuser-Busch currently breeds Clydesdales on two different farms and owns the largest single herd numbering around 250.