Writing so far back as the year 1782, the Rev. David Ure, the minister of Rutherglen, in his history of the parish in question, states that the horses of Clydesdale had become famous long before that date. He adds of the once famous Rutherglen Fair that "the market day is not now frequented, but six fairs are held annually in the town and are famous for the best horses in Europe". This little compliment to the value of the animals changing hands at Rutherglen may probably have been an exaggeration, but Mr. Ure's eulogies may be accepted as valuable, for they prove two facts conclusively - first, that the Clydesdale horse was recognized as a distinct variety and had been for some time; and secondly, that the breed sold well in far-off 1782, else there would have been no support forthcoming for the six annual fairs.
The worthy minister also adds that "A high degree of credit is due to the farmers for their unremitting endeavours to improve this excellent breed. They pay strict attention to every circumstance respecting the colour, the softness and hardness of the hair, the length of the body, breast, and shoulders of their breeders, sire and dam. No inducement whatever can lead them to encourage the breed of a horse that is not possessed of the best qualities. . . . Every farm almost throughout the extent of several parishes supports six or at least four mares, the half of which are allowed annually to foal. The colts are mostly sold at the Fairs of Lanark and Carnwath, and bring to the owners from five to twenty pounds each. These are generally purchased by farmers from the counties of Renfrew and Ayr, where they are trained for the draught until about five years old. They are then sold at the Fairs of Rutherglen from twenty-five to forty pounds each, from whence they are taken to the Lothians, England, etc, where they excel in the plough, the cart, and the waggon."
The position of the Clydesdale may therefore be regarded as having been clearly recognized so far back as 1782; but writing eighteen years later in the British Farmer's Magazine, William Aiton, referred to above, takes exception to the title of Clydesdale being conferred upon the breed, which he refers to as the Lanarkshire, though he admits that "they are natives of every county of Scotland south of the Tay, and therefore ought rather to be denominated the Scottish breed of horse". Aiton, it may be added, appears quite to have shared the Reverend David Ure's enthusiasm for the variety, as he described it as "the most valuable breed of draught-horse in Britain, not only for farming business, but for every description of work where strength, agility, and docility of temper are required ". Aiton also confirms Mr. Ure's description of the breeding of these horses by farmers in a small way, whilst he expresses the opinion that much of the improvement that had been effected was due to the better feeding and treatment received by the animals.
As there appears to be a certain amount of doubt concerning the exact tap-root from which the modern Clydesdale originally sprang, a description of some famous mares, all of which died out at about the commencement of last century, may be read with interest. Some eighty years previously, that is about the year 1715, it is stated in the Stud-book of the Clydesdale Society, one John Paterson of Lochlyoch, in the parish of Carmichael, went to England and purchased a Flemish stallion, which he brought home and crossed with the North Ward mares, the result being that the produce became known for their excellence all over Scotland. The Lochlyoch mares, it is added, were generally browns and blacks, with white faces and a little white on their legs. They had gray hairs in their tails, occasional gray hairs over their bodies, and invariably a white spot on their belly, this latter being recognized as a mark of distinct purity of blood. It was no doubt principally due to the influence of the black Flemish stallion of 1715 that so many of the Lochlyoch mares were so dark in colour, as it must be remembered, as stated above, that it was a bay stallion that won the first prize offered by the "Society of Improvers" at Edinburgh, in 1759; bay, therefore, must have been accepted as a correct colour of the breed upwards of a century ago.
Before that period the history of the Clydesdale, as may be gathered from what has been said, is obscure. In fact, there are reasons that have been pointed out by writers upon the breed, for accepting with the greatest caution the information that has been forthcoming from authorities of a later period. This information was doubtless given honestly and in the best of faith, but it is at the same time quite within the limits of possibility that inaccuracies may have crept into the narratives that have been told. As a case in point, allusion may be made to the case of the famous stallion Glancer, 335 in the Stud-booh of the Clydesdale Society, which horse is there stated to have been foaled about the year 1810. The correctness of this, however, has been impugned, as a writer in Heavy Horses, an authoritative work on these breeds, which is edited by Mr. James Sinclair, who occupies a similar position on the Live Stock Journal, draws attention to the fact that if Glancer was foaled in 1810, he must have sired one of his most successful foals - Paton's Horse, which took second prize at the Highland and Agricultural Society's show in 1842 - when he was five-and-twenty years of age. This, of course, was not an impossible feat to accomplish, though it is an improbable one. Be the date of his birth, however, what it may, there is no doubt whatsoever that Glancer, who was also known by the designation of Thompson's Black Horse, is the corner-stone of many a modern Clydesdale strain. Whether the contention put forth by many breeders - namely, that Glancer was a direct descendant of the Lochlyoch mares referred to above - is a correct one or not, it is impossible to ascertain; but it is generally believed that the dam of the famous black, known as the Lampits mare, inherited the blood in question.