Clydesdale and Working Horses: A Pictorial History

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Author:   NSW
Publisher:   Axiom Publishing
Format:   Softback
ISBN:   9781864765151 
Product Id:   5825

The Clydesdale originated from Scotland and was named after the river Clyde, which flows through the district of Lanarkshire. Over the years, the Scots, through careful breeding had developed a draught horse they were proud of.

Of the heavy horse breeds, the Clydesdale in time came to be preferred. Although smaller and of finer bone than the Shire, they walked at a faster pace. Back in England, the Shire often worked small one-acre allotments. With a walking pace of one or two miles an hour speed was not essential due to the size of the farm. In Australia, however farms tended to be larger and therefore the Clydesdales quicker pace of four of five miles an hour was preferable.  

White man’s settlement of Australia was to be taken up by those in search of prosperous new land and wealth, and those who were sentenced to work the land. It is believed that convicts were to provide the manpower required during those early colonial days, however it is documented that Governor Phillip requested draught horses be sent in 1792. Australia was a far different terrain compared to Britain and the work was hard.

The first shipments of heavy horses were a mix of breeds consisting of Shires, Percherons and Clydesdales. Imagine the journey these horses must have undertaken, from cool, moist soils of their homeland, loaded onto a ship with standing room only, limited sunlight and fresh air. Basic necessities of food and water supplied, cleaning of the stall, for what could be months of travel. Then unloaded in Australia, the piercing sunlight and firm, dry soil beneath foot. A harsh and hostile environment in comparison. Two and three year old horses were usually chosen, as the trip was taxing and young horses may be damaged, during what could be several months at sea. There were of course, those who did not make the journey. As sea travel improved, it would still take many weeks to sail from the United Kingdom to Australia. It was often said that animals that travelled through the equator could turn from docile to savage or vice versa, as the trip was such a big change in their life.

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