Before electricity or engines, the heavy haulers were the draft horses. They were used in the agricultural industry to work on the farms and haul produce to the markets, as well as the mining, logging and freight industries – and even in the military. There was such a demand for these animals that breeders began to improve them. One such breed was developed in the 1830s in Scotland. The Clydesdale was first bred in Lanarkshire by the River Clyde. Lanarkshire was originally known as Clydesdale, hence the name. The animal is very gentle, intelligent, active and willing to work. The average height of the Clydesdale is 16 to 18 hands and weighs about 2,000 pounds. In horse terminology a hand is equivalent to 4 inches and the measurement is from the shoulders (highest point of the horse’s body) to the ground. The breed is a cross between a Scottish Mare and Flemish Stallion. It was a perfect fit in hauling heavy loads for the teamsters, coal miners, farmers and loggers. The breed became in demand and was transported to Britain and then throughout the world. During World War I these animals were used to haul freight to the battlefield, bringing the heavy artillery to the front lines and transporting the ambulances filled with wounded to the aid stations. The war years were extremely harsh on the Clydesdale – many were killed or wounded in battle. If injured, they were patched up and returned to the front to face more poison gas attacks and artillery fire. They always performed well, but since so many countries in the war used the breed, the population was drastically deceased. Soon thereafter, with the advent of motorized vehicles, the demand for these magnificent creatures deceased even more. Today, the breed has become “at risk” by Rare Breeds Survival Trust. The horse is still popular as a show horse and, in the United States, is well-known as the haulers for Budweiser. August A. Busch Jr. purchased six Clydesdales in 1933 to celebrate the end of prohibition in the United States. The marketing potential of a beer wagon being hauled by the Clydesdale was an instant hit. Today, some Clydesdales are once again being used in the logging industry, as they are better than machinery in protecting the sensitive environmental areas around the lumber removal. “Green” farms and wine growers use these gentle giants to better protect their crops, as well. So, the Clydesdale carries on – still appreciated as a gentle giant and heavy hauler. Life is a wondrous adventure. As we explore the future, the more we learn from the past.
SharLeigh has an inquisitive nature – she is interested in current events, history, science and many more subjects, including things that go bump in the night! Since 1997, SharLeigh has scoured the internet, looking for interesting, fun and timely topics covering all sorts of human-interest subjects for her articles from her home in Fontana, CA.