1577. Clydesdale stallions

Today’s “story” concerns a topic you’ve probably been wondering about for many years. Having the answer to the question will undoubtedly leave your mind free to begin to ponder other thoughts of importance. I know there are some people on the planet who might regard this topic with incredulity; not so I, and hopefully not so you. The cynic might say it’s about an area of farming in an era that no longer exists, so it’s not necessary to “talk dirty”. But all history buffs should care enough to be spellbound.

Here is the question.

In the old days, when farmers ploughed their fields with the aid of a draught horse, without the availability of modern trucks and horse floats, how did a Clydesdale mare get into foal? Obviously the farmer, whose livelihood depended on the Clydesdale, didn’t want puny offspring unable to pull a plough – or unable to wear a harness. And clearly temperament was a factor. Who wants a draught horse as stubborn as a donkey or as nasty as a racehorse? Only the best Clydesdale stallions would do.

Well, here lies the answer. The owner of a Clydesdale stallion would move from village to village and advertise his wares in newspapers. The stallion would reside in a field near a village for perhaps several weeks, and then move on. Some stallions stayed only for a day. Others popped in to see friends while travelling through.

Some were more expensive than others. Some charged a grazing fee; grass doesn’t grow on trees. Some boasted a proud pedigree. Some simply cavorted around the meadow showing off their sleek muscles and fluffy ankles.

It was like a Journeyman Plumber or Journeyman Blacksmith who laboured not in a workshop but moved around freely from client to client. Except in this case it was a Journeyman Horse. Only very occasionally would a mare do the travelling.

I knew you’d be interested. I was. Perhaps, if you believe in reincarnation, you might consider the possibility of coming back as the lucky owner of a proud Clydesdale stallion. It’s a wonderful calling and an excellent way to see the country.

27 thoughts on “1577. Clydesdale stallions

  1. M. L. Kappa

    Just wonderful! Nowadays in the racing world it’s the mares who travel to the stallion, sometimes as far off as Japan. The stallions might cover up to four times a day, and in the winter the good ones move to Australia, to take advantage of the season in the Southern Hemisphere. As for the cost – the top fees per mare are anything from £20k to 120k! Live foal, usually, but still…

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  2. judyrutrider

    Seriously?!? You want to come back as the OWNER of the lucky stallion?
    And yes, I found this post most interesting though I admit I’d not given it much thought previously. It’s my understanding that in this country, Thoroughbreds may be artificially inseminated as are Quarterhorses, though last I knew, breeders of Arabian horses were still requiring that the stallion do the act. Since breeding poses a certain amount of risk to both mare and stallion, it makes sense to go with artificial insemination, placing the risk on the human liaison.

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      1. Bruce Goodman Post author

        I come from a long line of racehorse breeders and trainers! (G-grandfather rode the favourite – Rose of Denmark – in 1864 – I think that was the year – he didn’t win). Sadly interest in horse racing finished with my father (he was a jockey and trainer at one stage). None of his children are into horses or racing. In fact, I’ve never even been to the races or got on a pony!

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      2. judyrutrider

        Horses have a somewhat violent courting process which includes kicking and biting. And, of course, time constraints usually don’t allow for much in the way of foreplay, so a mare might consider it rape and try to defend her virtue. Hmm, I wonder what kind of ads would pop up if I Googled “horse sex” for more information.

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  3. umashankar

    Well, sir, I want to reborn as the Stallion –my creed even permits that –but time travel to 19th Century could be a problem. (I am secretly hoping Chinese are able to figure out that conundrum, but given the streak of cruelty in their stories, I am a bit wary too).

    You succeeded in rivetting me to this unique post.

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  4. noelleg44

    What a great post! So interesting! A farmer would not want to be keeping a stallion around – very disturbing to the mares on a daily basis. Come back as a Clydesdale owner? – heck, I want to come back as a Clydesdale! I do love these beasts – have seen them up close and personal at Disney World and some Clydesdale farms. For the most part, they are gentle giants.

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    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      When I grew up in a rural area, of course all farm work was done by machine, except for the one neighbour right next door – Bun Cook was his name! He still used Clydesdales for everything. It was all so “graceful” to watch!

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