Clydesdale VS Quarter Horse: Differences & Questions Answered

If you are going to choose your first horse, what will your considerations be?

Would you want to get a massive horse or just a standard-size one?

Are you looking for a fast horse that is perfect for racing competitions, or just an average-speed horse that can be perfect for riding and heavy work?

If these are some of your preferences, you might want to compare a Clydesdale and a Quarter Horse.

These two breeds will surely capture your hearts with their temperament and special characteristics!

Clydesdales

Clydesdale

During the early 1700s, Clydesdales were developed in Lanarkshire, a historic county in south-central Scotland. The old name of the province was Clydesdale and is near River Clyde where the breed’s name was derived.

Clydesdales are heavy draft horses raised by copulating a Flemish stallion with domestic mares around 1715. They were primarily bred to meet the demands of commerce, local transports, and agricultural needs of the farmers.

In 1826, Clydesdales were first recognized and used as a breed. That was during the industrial age and when robust horses were highly fundamental for industry works and hauling massive loads.

Around the 1840s, Clydesdales were brought to North America; however, they did not receive popularity as a draft horse there.

The Clydesdale Horse Society of Great Britain and Ireland was established in 1877 while the American Clydesdale Horse Association, which is today known as the Clydesdale Breeders of the United States, was formed in 1879.

Today, most Clydesdale horses can be found in the United States, having 600 new horses registered annually. The breed is highly raised in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom as well.

Speed

Nowadays, Clydesdale horses would commonly mesmerize you in various events or festivals where they would be pulling wagons through streets.

With their captivating massive physique, you can easily tell that they are specifically bred to haul weighty loads.

However, you may also wonder if they can run as fast just like other horses.

Though Clydesdales are raised for work, they can also be riding horses.

The fastest recorded speed of a Clydesdales was 20 miles per hour or 32 kilometers per hour.

Size

As a draft horse, it can be certain that a Clydesdale will grow as a pretty massive creature.

A full-grown Clydesdale can stand between 16 hands to 19 hands; that is 64 inches to 76 inches. The breed is one of the tallest horses and even recognized by the Guinness World Records.

It can typically weigh around 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) to 2,200 pounds (998 kilograms).

A mature female Clydesdale can stand between 16 hands (64 inches) to 18 hands (72 inches) and commonly weigh around 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) to 2,000 pounds (771 kilograms).

An adult male can grow from 17 hands (68 inches) to 19 hands (76 inches) and typically weigh from 1,700 pounds (771 kilograms) to 2,200 pounds (998 kilograms).

Characters

Clydesdales have a set of compassionate, sharp eyes and well-shaped ears. They have a slightly curved noble head with a wide forehead.

They have a long, muscular neck and high withers. Their shoulders are slanted and they have a short but sturdy back.

Clydesdales have long legs with thick, velvety feathers covering their lower legs to keep them warm during winter. They also have gigantic hooves which only match their height and weight.

Since they originated from Scotland, they have thick coats to adapt to the cold climate. Their coats can either be bay, brown or black with rarely white spots.

They are known as elegant heavy horses with so much energy and great temperament!

Quarter horse

Quarter Horse

The Quarter Horse, also called American Quarter Horse, is one of the most popular breeds not just in the northern part of the United States, rather worldwide.

As a remarkably old breed, Quarter Horse’s history can be traced back to the 1600s. Its ancestors were hybrids of local Spanish horses and English horses used by the first European settlers in the United States. Chickasaw horses are one of the influencers of Quarter Horses.

Its name was derived from the quarter-mile race it is commonly dominating. It is a sure winner in this kind of distance competition!

This breed is also recognized for its skills and agility in various equine sports and even farm works. For farmers, breeders, and cowboys, Quarter Horses are such a gem for safe transportations on rough countrysides.

The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was founded in 1940.

Today, this horse breed can be found in about 64 nations around the world with a total recorded population of above 5 million!

Speed

Quarter Horses surely have a spot on the list of fastest horse breeds.

In a racing competition, you can simply expect Quarter Horse participants to overpower other horses with their magnificent build and swift movements.

Quarter Horses can typically run roughly 30 miles per hour or 48 kilometers per hour.

The fastest Quarter Horse reached a speed of 55 miles per hour or 88.51 kilometers per hour.

Size

As years passed by, Quarter Horses are reproduced with other breeds, like the Thoroughbreds, which enables them to be taller and stronger.

A full-grown Quarter Horse can stand between 14 hands (56 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches).

It is a massive breed that typically weighs from 950 pounds to 1,200 pounds; that is 431 kilograms to 544 kilograms.

Characters

When you think about Quarter Horses, a compact and heavy build will always be involved in the description.

Quarter Horses have a refined short head and tiny ears. Their necks and shoulders are powerful, and they have a wide chest as well.

Their backs are short and muscular; likewise, they have notably strong legs that can run very fast.

This breed has two kinds which are the “bulldog” and the “racing” one. Bulldogs are stock horses while those racing ones are basically for competitions.

The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) confirms that Quarter Horses have 17 coat colors which comprise solid colors, blue roan, cremello, dun, palomino, and buckskin. Brownish-red is the typical color of Quarter Horses that you can see.

Quarter Horses are known for being calm and well-behaved. They are great with kids and for beginner riders too!

Differences Between Clydesdale and Quarter Horse

A Clydesdale and a Quarter Horse differ when it comes to diet, physical features, grooming, expertise, and population.

The first difference between the two breeds is their diet.

As a massive horse, Clydesdales must consume more food compared to an average horse like the Quarter Horse. They also need more water compared to a standard-size horse.

Clydesdales need 2 pounds to 10 pounds of grains as well as 25 to 50 pounds of hay on their daily diet.

As for Quarter Horses, they only need to consume 1.5% to 2% of their weight daily. An average Quarter Horse weighing 1,000 pounds will only need to eat 15 pounds to 20 pounds; this is way less compared to Clydesdales.

Another difference between a Clydesdale and a Quarter Horse is their physical features.

Aside from being taller, a Clydesdale has distinctive thick, velvety feathers covering its lower legs. In addition, it has a thicker coat and larger hooves compared to Quarter Horses.

When it comes to grooming, the two breeds require different approaches as well.

Compared to Quarter Horses requiring only the standard grooming care, Clydesdales need special grooming due to their large size.

Clydesdales’ hairy legs must be frequently shampooed and dried properly. Their large hooves should be cleaned every day too that need specialized, big shoes.

All these make the grooming costs of Clydesdales more expensive compared to Quarter Horses.

The two breeds also differ in their expertise. Clydesdales are draft horses while Quarter Horses racehorses.

Clydesdales were specifically bred to haul heavy loads, basically used as working horses.

Meanwhile, you can commonly see Quarter Horses on a race track due to their incomparable speed.

Another big difference between Clydesdales and Quarter Horses is their population.

Since Clydesdales are workhorses, their significance in the industry is declining due to innovation and technology.

They are not one of the top choices of breeders. Sadly, this makes their breed almost near extinction.

In contrast, Quarter Horses are very popular and recognized as the largest breed registry worldwide. They are highly populated compared to Clydesdales.

Below is a simple table showing the key differences between Quarter Horses and Clydesdales.

 DietPhysical FeaturesGroomingExpertisePopulation
ClydesdaleNeeds more food and water (twice as an average-sized horse)Has silky, thick feathers on their legs, a thick body coat, and very large hooves.Needs extra grooming care due to its large size, making grooming maintenance more expensive.Bred as a draft horse.Near extinction
Quarter HorseNeeds a standard horse diet.Has no feathery legs, has a standard coat, and owns normal size hooves.Needs standard grooming care.Typically bred as a racehorse.Numerous breed population

Are Clydesdales Faster Than Quarter Horses?

No. A Clydesdale is not faster than a Quarter Horse. A Quarter Horse can run up to 88.51 kilometers per hour while a Clydesdale can only go up to 32 kilometers per hour.

Quarter Horses are bred to run fast and become a winning racehorse.

On the other hand, Clydesdales are bred for work purposes such as pulling real heavy loads. Basically, they are not really meant for running fast but for hauling that is relative to their massive physique.

Quarter Horses can run as fast as 55 miles per hour or 88.51 kilometers per hour while Clydesdales’ fastest speed was only clocked at 20 miles per hour or 32 kilometers per hour.

Which Horse Can Carry More, Clydesdale or Quarter Horse?

A Clydesdale can carry more compared to a Quarter Horse since it is heavier; the larger the horse, the more weight it can bear.

According to the United States standards, horses are recommended to only carry 20% of their body weight.

A Quarter Horse typically weighs between 950 pounds (431 kilograms) to 1,200 pounds (544 kilograms).

Basically, it can carry 190 pounds up to 240 pounds; that is 86.18 kilograms to 108.86 kilograms.

As for a Clydesdale, its typical body weight is from 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) to 2,200 pounds (998 kilograms). It is, definitely, way heavier compared to a Quarter Horse.

With the 20% of body weight rule, a Clydesdale can carry 300 pounds to 440 pounds; that is 136.07 kilograms to 199.58 kilograms.

As a draft horse, a Clydesdale can pull over 2,000 pounds during a walk.

Which Horse Is Bigger, A Clydesdale or A Quarter Horse?

 A Clydesdale is bigger as it is simply taller and heavier than a Quarter Horse.

Though a Quarter Horse has a massive body as well, it is incomparable to Clydesdale’s physique.

An adult Clydesdale can stand from 16 hands (64 inches) to 19 hands (76 inches). Meanwhile, a Quarter Horse can only grow from 14 hands (56 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches).

As for the weight, Clydesdales are way heavier compared to Quarter Horses.

Clydesdales can weigh from 950 pounds (431 kilograms) to 1,200 (544 kilograms).

Quarter Horses are lighter as their typical body weight is just roughly 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) to 2,200 pounds (998 kilograms).

References:

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Cavalluna. (n.d.). Quarter horse – the oldest American horse breed. https://www.cavalluna.com/en/our-horses/quarter-horse-2/

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Lynch, K. (2015, July 20). Guinness world records classics: Check out Remington, the amazingly tall horse from Texas. Guinness World Records. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2015/7/guinness-world-records-classics-check-out-remington-the-amazingly-tall-horse-fr-388199

Oklahoma State University. (1997). Breeds of livestock – Clydesdale horse. Department of Animal and Food Sciences | Oklahoma State University. https://afs.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/clydesdale/index.html/

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. (2021). Clydesdale Physical Characteristics. Animals, Careers, and Educational Programs| SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. https://seaworld.org/animals/all-about/clydesdale/characteristics/