Last Updated on May 5, 2021
Typically the bigger something is, the more money it costs. But, is this true of horses? As with everything in the horse world, the correct answer to this question is, of course, “it depends!” Clydesdale horses are no exception to this rule. How much does a Clydesdale cost?
In this article, I will be answering the question, how much does a Clydesdale cost? The range of costs of draft horses, specific, Clydesdale horses, is not too much different from the costs of average riding horses.
To best gauge the price of Clydesdale horses I will discuss their costs in comparison to average riding horses and average draft horses. I will also discuss the range of prices within the Clydesdale bread, and what can cause such variations in prices.
History Of The Clydesdale
Today, the Clydesdale is one of the most recognizable draft horse breeds. Even people that do not know much about horses will know one when they see it. This is mostly due to the promotion and protection of the breed by the Budweiser Clydesdales.
Even though the breeds are a symbol of America, the Clydesdale originates in Scotland, specifically Lanarkshire. Clydesdale is the former name for Lanarkshire. During the 1700s, local horses did not have the desired substance.
To improve the size, and strength of the local horses, Flemish stallions were imported to Scotland. The Duke of Hamilton imported the very first of these, and he offered the use of the stallion for free to his tenants. Another Flemish stallion arrived in Scotland from England under the efforts of John Paterson in Lochlyloch.
The breed continued to develop and grow in popularity with lineage records. In the early century, one of the most famous stallions was born, Baron of Buchlyvie. In 1911, at the age of eleven, Baron of Buchlyvie sold at auction for £9,700, a very impressive price for the time.
With the ending of World War II and increased availability of machinery on farms, draft horse numbers declined significantly and put the Clydesdale at significant risk of disappearing.
The Clydesdale stands between 17 to 19 hands tall and weighs 1,600 to 2,400 pounds. The breed is heavily muscled and designed for power and strength. Most Clydesdales are bay with beautiful white marking and thick leg feathering.
However, they are sometimes black, chestnut, and even grey. Their hooves are large, up to four times the size of a Thoroughbred’s. The breed is more susceptible to certain health problems. This includes skin infections on their legs due to improper care of their feathering and lymphedema; a chronic swelling in the legs.
The Budweiser Clydesdales are carefully trained from birth to their celebrity status. Take a look at this process here.
How Much Does a Clydesdale Cost: Range of Horse Price
The cost of purchasing horses, in general, has such a large range it is hard to discuss. You can get a green broke four-year-old quarter horse for sometimes less than a grand, and you can purchase grand Prix jumpers and international hunter derby horses for amounts in the mid-six figures.
This huge range of prices can be caused by many different factors. Some of these include breeding, age, quality, size, markings, training, show records, and location. Some horses are expensive simply because of their breeding. Compared to other breeds or high-quality sport horses, the Clydesdale is not excessively expensive.
But, sometimes horses that come from less expensive breeds have extensive professional training and successful show records. Also, sometimes relocation is included with the cost of a horse and can be important to take into consideration in purchasing a horse. The best example of this is importing a horse from Europe to the Americas.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for a Clydesdale, depending on the factors mentioned above. Most Clydesdales cost between $2,500 to $5,000 to buy. Very special, highly trained Clydesdales can cost significantly more than $10,000. Buying the horse is not the only cost you must consider.
How Much Does a Clydesdale Cost: Cost of an Average Horse
An average, sound, broke horse with few show miles will typically sell for a couple of grand. For example, I’ve helped sell and purchase a few horses, ranging 10 -14 years old, Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, and Paint Horses, all saddle broke and trained, but few or no show miles. These horses have sold for $4,000-$7,000.
The more experience a horse has (i.e.- show miles and training) the more expensive it will be. Some horses are inherently more expensive than others due to breeding, as discussed earlier. But, a safe estimate for an average horse cost is about $5,000.
Cost of an Average Draft Horse
So, do draft horses cost more than your typical saddle horses because of their size? Well, it depends. Sometimes, yes, but sometimes, no. The general consensus of draft horse owners is that typically, the purchase of the horse will not be anymore, but what comes afterward will be.
An average draft horse will cost approximately the same as an average riding horse, so between $4,000 and $7,000. But, on a forum on the Horse Forum, draft owners discuss external costs such as dewormer, supplements, fly spray, and tack sometimes costing more money when owning a draft horse.
Obviously, there are some exceptions to this. Draft horses that have been in the show ring successfully, whether for pulling contests, breed shows, or any other discipline they may have been involved in, their prices will likely exceed the averages.
Cost of an Average Clydesdale Horse
According to Clydesdale USA, Clydesdale horses cost between $2500 and $5,000, so, on the lower to mid-range of my estimated average horse cost. Some of the biggest variants in Clydesdale costs include “…Bloodlines, quality, size, age, color and markings, and level of training…” all of which have been discussed as being variants of horse cost earlier.
Clydesdale mares are typically slightly cheaper than Clydesdale stallions or geldings, averaging at about $3500 for a broke, show-ready Clydesdale. The price for YOUR Clydesdale will depend on exactly what type and level of horse you are looking for, but the average price of a Clydesdale would be about $3500 or $4,000.
Read more about Can You Ride a Clydesdale?
The Real Cost of a Clydesdale Horse
Owning a Clydesdale is a long-term commitment financially. Horses have essential needs for their physical and mental well-being.
As any horse owner knows, the expense of having a horse isn’t buying a horse, it is keeping the horse. As such, there are a few important maintenance factors to consider when purchasing a Clydesdale.
There are certain items and services that are more expensive for draft horses than they are for typical saddle horses. These include your farrier bill, the horse’s tack and equipment (especially if you’re a first-time draft owner), feed quantities, and trailer size.
Farrier services will typically cost more for a draft horse than they will for a standard-sized horse. If you think about the size of a draft’s feet, and the additional work that goes into maintaining them, it seems only fair. But, an increased farrier bill is something you must consider when looking to purchase a Clydesdale.
The lowest farrier cost is foot trimming, but a Clydesdale will likely need shoes if it is doing any kind of work. The cost to shoe a Clydesdale is often twice as much as a smaller breed, costing over $200. Keep in mind, this is not a yearly expense. A horse’s feet require at least trimming every six to eight weeks.
Shoeing a Clydesdale is hard work due to their size and the need for different equipment. Not all farriers will shoe a Clydesdale as they do not have the right tools.
A different or larger saddle and bridle, or harness (for driving) is also an important consideration when looking to buy a draft horse. Having properly fitting tack for any new horse is a priority, but, especially if you’re a first-time draft owner, you may have many pieces of tack that need to be replaced.
Hopefully, you will only need a veterinarian visit for yearly vaccinations. This alone costs around $300 per set of vaccinations, some of which are administered twice a year. You will also need to carry our regular wormer as per your vet’s guidelines for your region.
However, no one has such luck with horse ownership. It is inevitable that you will need to vet for an unplanned visit, such as an injury or colic. This can significantly increase costs.
Draft horses typically need to eat more than a standard-sized horse. Draft horses, like Clydesdales, are notoriously “easy keepers,” but it is important to be able to provide them with the quantities of food they need to be healthy. This includes twenty to forty pounds of hay per day and if their work and weight maintenance require, two to ten pounds of grain a day.
Feed types for Clydesdales will likely be similar to feed types of standard-sized horses; forage (grass, hay, or both), grain, and potentially added supplements.
Find out How Much Does a Clydesdale Weigh
Sometimes, Clydesdales will not fit in a standard-sized trailer. Clydesdales and other drafts often have to trailer in-stock trailers or other types of horse transportation such as vans. If you are planning on traveling with your Clydesdale, this is important to take into consideration.
I hope this article helped inform you about the costs of Clydesdale horses! Costs and expenses in the horse world are always subjective, but it’s important to be able to have an estimate before pursuing any kind of purchase or lease!
The Clydesdale is still a rare breed, with only around 600 foals born each year in the United States. This can affect the cost, but a nice companion or pleasure horse is not overly expensive compared to other types of horses. The primary elements that affect the cost of a Clydesdale are long-term care, vet, boarding, farrier, and feed.
While this breed is a gentle giant, think carefully before you buy one. Ask yourself if you can afford to look after the horse for its lifetime, which is on average 25 years. Over that time, it adds up to a lot of money!
If you have any questions, please put them in the comments below.
Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.