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Can Clydesdales Do Showjumping?

Standing about 18 hands tall and weighing in at around 1600-2400lbs, the Clydesdale is a majestic and powerful beauty. You may be familiar with the Budweiser TV advertisements where the Clydesdale pulls the Budweiser wagon, or you might have seen them in parades, doing dressage. A Clydesdale can be trained to do dressage, trot, canter, and to be ridden. But can these magnificent animals show jump?

Depending on their size and age, Clydesdales can show jump to some extent. However, many riders have reported being thrown from the Clydesdale as they jump because their style is different than regular horses. They can low-show jump to avoid severe impact on their joints as they land.

Clydesdales can be ridden even though their primary bred purpose is to pull wagons or plows. They are draft-horse breeds and therefore have a very calm, docile demeanor. They are great horses to ride due to their lovely temperament, and they do not spook easily. Any dog or other animal that appears suddenly will not phase them too much, and you can enjoy a smooth ride.

A Brief History Of The Clydesdale

Scotland imported Flemish stallions, and they were bred with the local mares. The offspring appeared to be a bit larger than the rest of the foals.

In 1806 a filly was born and named after the farm name of her owner, “Lampits mare.” Her lineage traces to the black stallion that John Paterson of Lochlyloch imported. Every Clydesdale today has “Lampits mare” listed in their ancestry.

This gentle giant is the pride of Scotland and was founded in Lanarkshire. Clydesdale was the old name of the district, and its history started in the middle of the 18th Century.

These large horses were bred for working, from pulling plows through the farmland or pulling wagons to and from the farms. They are also used for agriculture, logging, driving and are ridden for show or pleasure.

Can A Clydesdale Be Taught To Show Jump?

If you have seen the Budweiser advertisement featuring the Clydesdales or seen the beautiful 9/11 tribute, you will see that they are highly trainable.

Watch the videos below to view these stunning videos of Clydesdales;

Clydesdales can easily maneuver over logs and small obstacles in their way, and they cover ground quickly due to their size, but when it comes to jumping over a bar that is set much higher, their weight and massive feet can be a problem.

Clydesdales can jump, but with their large, dinner-plate-sized feet and heavy joints, it isn’t the best idea for them to jump too high or too much.

Trainers, however, have had success with two bars, but they find that when they exceed this limit, the horses either become hesitant to jump over it or they knock it over.

A Clydesdale’s lung capacity is less than that of an ordinary show-jumper, and they will need to take many breaks to save their energy and build up their endurance.

They are perfect for dressage because they lift each foot cleanly from the ground, making the bottom of their hooves visible from behind.

Physically they have well arched long necks, large nostrils, a broad muzzle, big ears, oblique shoulders, high withers, and an open forehead with a flat profile. Clydesdales have white legs, some with black legs, and usually have white spots or markings on their bodies.

Though majestic, powerful, and impressive, the Clydesdale is better suited for doing dressage, parades, or using their incredible power to pull carriages or large trailers and plows on farms. They were bred as draft horses, so they were intentionally bred to be larger than regular horses to perform tasks that smaller horses could not do.

Watch the video below to see a Clydesdale doing dressage;

How High Do Clydesdales Jump Compared To Other Horses?

A Clydesdale is said to jump an average height of 2’6”-3’. If they try to go higher, they will hesitate or knock the bars off as they attempt to go over.

A wild or domesticated horse can jump 3’+ without any training

An Olympic horse jumps over 10 to 16 obstacles and can jump up as high as 5’3” and 6’7” across.

A pony can jump about 3 feet high. Even though they are smaller, they are much more agile than horses.

The highest indoor jumping record belongs to Anthony d Ambrosio and his horse “Sweet n Low.” They cleared a record-breaking jump at 2.3m high in 1983 at the Washington International Horse Show.

The highest jump recorded in The Guinness Book Of Records was on the 5th of February 1949. Rider Alberto Larraguibel Morales and his horse, “Huaso Ex-Faithful,” set the ultimate record at 8’1 ¼ “in Chile.

Watch the video below to see a Clydesdale jump at the Queen Margaret School;

Can Clydesdales Race?

A Clydesdale can run up to 32kmph (20 miles), and they have the endurance to last for 3 miles.

Check the video below to see how Clydesdales race;

How Strong Is A Clydesdale?

A dynamometer is used to test the strength of a horse. It is a weight-resistant machine that determines the horsepower of a group of horses and was used in the 1920s for the first time.

A Clydesdale can pull an incredible weight of between 2000-8000lbs. A pair of Clydesdales once pulled a record weight of 22000 pounds for a distance of 66inches (167.64cm).


If you are purchasing a Clydesdale for showjumping purposes, you may be a bit disappointed as they do not make the best jumpers. But they are absolutely wonderful horses to own for going horseback riding or even taking part in dressage shows or parades.

However, as with everything in life, nothing is impossible, and these intelligent, beautiful creatures have proven just that. No, they cannot jump as high as horses bred for show jumping, but that does not mean they can’t learn how to jump smaller obstacles. And they do!

As the brilliant saying goes, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its entire life believing that it is stupid.” A Clydesdale’s jumping ability may not be that great, but no other horse will be able to do the tasks these incredible horses can do!


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Anrie Diedericks

I've been around horses since I was 6 years old and started competing at the age of 9. Horses are my greatest passion and I am thrilled to be able to share my 23 (and counting) years of experience and knowledge with you.

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