Commonwealth Clyedsdale Horse Society

The History of the Commonwealth Clydesdale Horse Society

The following information comprises extracts from "The Clydesdale Horse". A Resource Book published by the CCHS (NSW Branch) in addition to the Foreward of the first CCHS Stud Book.


Our History 1800 to 1850

"Exactly when the first importations of heavy horses into Australia were made is not clear, ...however, ... in the early days of settlement of New South Wales, pioneers essayed to bring horses for draught purposes to these shores despite the difficult transport conditions then met with."
One of the earliest references to the introduction of heavy horses was made by James Atkinson, in his work titled, The State of Agriculture and Grazing In New South Wales, published in 1826. He wrote:-

Some stallions and mares of the English and Flemish cart breeds have lately been introduced. The purebred horses of this description are certainly too heavy for the climate, but it is probable that, by judicious crossing with the lighter kinds, a breed may be obtained with sufficient bone and strength, but yet not too heavy, for the purposes of draught in this climate, which, (Mr Atkinson added) seems peculiarly congenial to the breeding and improvement of horses.

In Tasmania, ... the English dray horse appears to have predominated ... Victoria, in its early days of settlement, secured its foundation in draught stock mainly from Tasmania and New South Wales, to be later followed by importations from England and Scotland. English horses were also introduced into Western Australia late in the 1830’s and some were also imported to South Australia.


Our History 1850 - 1900

"It was not, however, until the 1850’s, following the discovery of gold in New South Wales and Victoria, that draught horse breeding received its greatest impetus. Victoria became the centre of this activity, and the lead was there given for the introduction of the best breeding stock from Scotland, ... with the development of the agricultural industry, draught horse breeding made rapid progress, aided principally by the introduction of some of the best strains of the Clydesdale breed."

Flashdale (Imp.) vy Dunure Footprint
Flashdale (Imp.) by Dunure Footprint

The main draught horse breeding centre in New South Wales was the Hawkesbury Valley, near Sydney... When the Clydesdale was introduced into the district it was some years before the breed received much encouragement, but, in time, it gradually superseded all other heavy breeds. In Queensland, the Clydesdale was brought prominently to the front ... in or about 1855."

"The establishing of a stud book for Draught Horses in Australia was first considered by the Council of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria as far back as 1885. No definite action was taken until October 1903, when that Society appointed a committee to report on the matter."


Our History 1900 - 1930

The greatest progress and development of the Clydesdale horse in Australia, has, however, taken place in the 30 years up to 1936 ... to the almost complete elimination of other draught breeds ... . Much credit is due to those enterprising breeders who maintained their faith in the Clydesdale horse and who, in spite of the decline in horse breeding following the Great War, not only preserved their studs, but improved them through the introduction of fresh sire blood."

Mares belonging to Wm. Black of Coldstream Victoria 1927
Mares belonging to Wm. Black
of Coldstream Victoria 1927

In 1904, the committee due to report on the establishment of a stud book for Draught Horses in Australia recommended the publication of a Draught Horse Stud Book for Victoria, to include Clydesdales, English Shires and Suffolk Punches - each breed to occupy a separate section of the book.

The Council of the Society adopted the committee’s recommendation, but subsequently amended the conditions of registration, and altered the title of the book to The Draught Horse Stud Book of Australia so that horses in other States could be registered.

The first volume was published in 1907, and until after the last issue of its seventh volume, the Draught Horse Stud Book of Australia was the only stud book for draught horses published in Australia. In 1917, the first volume of the Australian Clydesdale Stud Book was published by the newly established Australian Clydesdale Society

On the 1st of November 1917, it was decided to recommend ... that the Australian Clydesdale Horse Society’s Stud Book and the Clydesdale section of the Draught Horse Stud Book of Australia, be amalgamated. It was further resolved to recommend that a new controlling body be established ... the new controlling body being named the Commonwealth Clydesdale Horse Society ... The first meeting was held in Melbourne on 24th July 1918 ... .

It was unanimously agreed that the standard for stallions should be "four top crosses" and for mares "three top crosses" of Clydesdale breeding, which were the regulations governing registration in the Australian Clydesdale Stud Book ... at a meeting in Sydney in March, 1921, ... Rules and Regulations were adopted, and it was decided that entries for the first volume of the Commonwealth Clydesdale Stud Book should close on 30th September 1921. ... Captain A. E. T. Payne (President of the Victorian Branch) was unanimously elected first President of the Society ... Following this meeting, the Society was accorded the hearty support of Clydesdale enthusiasts throughout the Commonwealth."


Our History 1930 - 1950

"Australia ... has always trailed the rest of the world in breeding trends, and the peak of Clydesdales here was not reached until the mid 1930’s, some 25 years after Great Britain... . Australia carried on the tradition of breeding for the best. Australia’s slowness to change from horse power to petrol, resulted in a building up of good quality Clydesdales ...

Clydesdales hauling timber in the Warburton region of Victoria
Clydesdales hauling timber in
the Warburton region of Victoria

In the decade leading up to World War II, competition was very keen in the show ring, with many imported horses from Scotland and New Zealand and their progeny together with well-bred local horses providing big classes of quality horses... .

The declaration of War in 1939 was a retrograde step for heavy horse breeding; prices fell off quickly and most shows ceased showing Clydesdales... . Melbourne Show was again held for the first time post-war in 1946... ."


Our History 1950 - 1970

"The fifties and sixties were dark years for the horse...
The horse market was in the doldrums and good horses were sold for a pittance... . By the late 1950’s Draught Horse values dropped to rock bottom. About this time some Australian breeders claim they saw quality mares almost given away. A turning point came late in the 1960’s when interest slowly increased in the heavy horse... ."


Our History 1970 - Present

Since 1970 there has been a resurgence of interest in the Clydesdale horse in Australia. The use of Clydesdales in brewery teams around Australia has greatly increased the profile of the breed. The pleasure and experience of owning and working this magnificent horse has seen the introduction of many new converts to the breed. The numbers of exhibitors at local shows have been on the increase and more working classes are appearing in show schedules.

The membership of the Society is currently standing at 673 distributed across 5 state branches as follows: Victoria / Tasmania 39%, New South Wales 27%, Queensland 20%, Western Australia 9% and South Australia 5%.

The 35th stud book is being prepared for publishing towards the end of 2008 bringing the total number of horses bred in Australia since the start of registrations in 1924 to 8455 Stallions/Geldings and 18104 Mares

Each branch on an annual rotational basis will hold a major show giving members the chance to contest for the Max Fowler Award. This Federal award was created in memory of one of our long serving breeders and judges the late Mr Max Fowler. Our events page will have details of the shows and activities held in each state.

Colin Cox
FEDERAL PRESIDENT


Copies of the resource book and past stud books are available from:

The Secretary
Commonwealth Clydesdale Horse Society of Australia
P.O. Box 1053
Bendigo 3552
Victoria
Australia
Phone: (03) 5442 8890
Email: fedsec@clydesdalehorse.com.au


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