The Budweiser brewing company has been able to make the Clydesdale breed immediately recognizable by most people. The striking bay horses pulling a carriage immediately make everyone think first of Budweiser, and then usually of their awesome Super Bowl commercials.
When looking to purchase a Clydesdale horse, there are some things you will want to think about before making a purchase.
Can you buy a Clydesdale Horse? Clydesdale horses can be purchased privately. In fact, Budweiser even sells foals to the public but there are many other breeders you can choose from as well.
1. They Are Big
You probably know that they are big right, so this may seem too obvious. The fact of the matter is that bigger is not necessarily better.
Due to their size, you need to consider that a lot of the stuff you use for a regular sized horse will need to be much bigger to accommodate the size of a Clydesdale. This includes your trailer, your tack, your corrals, and your feed bill.
That doesn’t mean buying a Clydesdale horse isn’t a good choice. As long as you consider any extra expense due to their size, they do make great horses to own.
2. Bay Isn’t The Only Color Available
Budweiser has made the bay Clydesdale color very popular. It is the only color they will use to pull their carriages. But, did you know that Clydesdale horses come in other colors as well?
Clydesdale horses can be black, bay, gray, roan and even chestnut. They almost always have white on their faces and legs.
3. Grooming Takes A While
Grooming a Clydesdale horse will take longer than grooming a non-feathered horse. You see, not only is there more horse to groom, there are special steps you need to take to keep those beautiful leg feathers looking their best.
That typically means that special whitening shampoo must be applied and allowed to sit. Once the feathers have been shampooed and are clean, they are typically dried one by one with a blow dryer.
Failure to dry the leg hair completely can lead to conditions like scratches, which causes irritation, swelling and can even cause the hair to fall out. The process of hand drying four legs can be quite time-consuming.
4. They Can Learn Their Strength
This is true of any horse but especially so with draft horses. Care must be taken while training to ensure they learn each task without resistance. Clydesdale horses can be just as light as any horse but, they can also learn that you aren’t strong enough to hold them.
This can lead to bad habits in a variety of different places. The horse might learn that you can’t hold their foot up so they shimmy around and take it from you. Some draft horses get so bad in this regard they need to be shod in stocks.
I once worked with a draft that learned that he could leave whenever he wanted. He would lead just fine most of the time but, if the feed cart was coming around for dinner, he’d just head right back to his stall knowing you couldn’t stop him. With good training, most horses shouldn’t learn these bad habits, but you do need to take extra caution to prevent it with a larger horse.
5. They Eat Twice As Much As A Normal Horse
A normal horse is anywhere from 800 – 1000 pounds on average. The general guideline for feeding an 800 – 1000 lb horse is to feed 8 – 20 lbs of hay.
You see, horses who are currently in good weight need to consume 1 – 2% of their body weight in hay each day to maintain that weight. (source) For a 1,000 pound horse, that means they need 10 – 20 lbs of hay each day.
A Clydesdale horse can weight between 1,500 and 2,200 lbs on average as an adult. (source) That is almost twice the size of a normal horse. That means, they will require twice as much food. A 2,000 lb Clydesdale horse will require between 20 and 40 lbs of hay a day to maintain weight.
And this is a maintenance diet, the more the horse works or is used, the more hay it will require to stay in good health.
6. Shoeing Costs More
A normal horse wears normal size shoes. The Clydesdale horse has a large hoof to match its large body. This means that these horses need a much larger shoe than normal horses. Typically the larger or more specialized the shoe, the more expensive they are to put on.
In addition, if your horse does not stand well for the farrier and requires stocks or specialized sedation to help with shoeing, the cost can go up by a lot. Keep in mind that all horses should have their feet tended to at least every 6 – 8 weeks.
7. They Are a Great Choice for a Larger Rider
Let’s face it, the American population isn’t getting skinnier. Heavier riders need heavier horses. As a heavier rider myself, I know what it is like to feel “too small” on a horse. That’s part of the reason I wrote the article on choosing the right sized horse for your height and weight.
The great thing about the Clydesdale horse is that it is big enough to accommodate any size rider. A 380 lb man would be no problem for a mature Clydesdale. The great thing is, smaller riders are no problem either.
How much do Clydesdale horses cost? The cost of a Clydesdale horse will depend greatly depending on the age and training level for the horse. In 2019, Clydesdale horses can be found online ranging between $3,500 and $20,000.
How tall is a Clydesdale horse? Clydesdale horses at full maturity are usually between 16 and 19 hands tall. (source)
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