A NORTHUMBERLAND Clydesdale breeder is aiming to promote the under- threat heavy horse as a riding horse.
Anna Cockburn, from the Tillside Clydesdales stud at Milfield, brought two of her horses to Glendale Show at Wooler and rode Merlin in the main ring during the grand parade.
The black Clydesdale is now among the top ridden horses for the breed in the UK.
Cockburn said: “You can do everything with them – I hunted Merlin last year and will this year.
“We go to shows all over the country, anywhere with ridden Clydesdale classes.
“At Blair Castle International Horse Trials, we took fourth place, which puts us in the top five in the country.”
Cockburn previously rode Thoroughbreds and hunters but became hooked on Clydesdales five years ago. She also judges for the breed society. She said: “My horse died and my dad had been on the wood lorries.
“He was feeding apples to a Clydesdale stallion – who is the father of Merlin.
“They are extremely intelligent – you teach them something once when you are schooling and they know it.
“They are very, very polite, very, very light on their feet and very agile.
“We should not be cross-breeding them, they are perfectly capable the way they are. If we cross breed them, we will lose the pure breed.
“There are only 300 breeding mares left in the country. There are more shires – there are closer to 1,000.”
There are 10 Clydesdales at Tillside, with two more on the way.
In addition to Merlin, the stud brought Dexter, a bay, to Glendale. He is earmarked for a career pulling wood out of forests in Scotland.
Dexter, a bay who was also at Glendale, will be used to pull wood out of the forests in Scotland. Cockburn added: “He is very, very heavy and has a massive shoulder, which makes him ideal as a working horse.”
In contrast, she says Merlin has the ideal conformation for riding rather than pulling.
Cockburn added: “Merlin has a scooped back leg – with Clydesdales, it is all about the back leg. “