Walking in Glen Isla I passed a field with these two wonderful Clydesdale Horses, and thought I would share a little bit of their story.
Clydesdales were the heavy horses of Britain’s Industrial Revolution. They pulled wagons and ploughs, barges and coalships – beautiful, powerful beasts. We exported them in their 1000’s – they were the breed that built Australia, and became an iconic image of the Budweiser brewery when they were used to celebrate the end of Prohibition in the United States.
World War 1 had a devasting impact on our horse population, with 484,000 being killed. Many of these were Clydesdale Horses and other shire horses. After the war, mechanisation saw tractors and lorries replace them leading to a sharp decline to the extent that by 1975 the breed was threatened with extinction. from a peak of 140,000 in Scotland, the numbers fell to 80 in the UK in 1975.
Thankfully numbers are now recovering slowly, and there are now 800 of this breed in the UK
Andy Scott’s marvellous sculpture of the Kelpies (a mythical beast) at Falkirk reflect the heritage of these horses, and in particular their use to pull barges on the canals. Each of the Kelpies is 30m high and weighs 300 tonnes. They needed 1,200 tonnes of reinforced concrete foundations per head and were built on site in just 90 days.
The Kelpies can be viewed near Falkirk, close to the Falkirk Wheel.