Janice Kirkpatrick and Clydesdale horse

Scotland’s much-loved Clydesdale Horse is star of new feature length documentary

Dylan MacdonaldGraven

The much-loved Clydesdale Horse breed – currently classed as ‘vulnerable’ in the UK by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust – is the focus of a feature length documentary to be screened on BBC Scotland during the Christmas holiday period on 30 December at 19.30.

Clydesdale: Saving the Greatest Horse – is produced by the BBC, in partnership with Screen Scotland and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the documentary highlights Clydesdale Horse expert Professor Janice Kirkpatrick OBE as she shares the story of this magnificent, world-beating heavy horse and describes her passion for saving the breed which has played such a crucial role in Scotland and around the world.

Commentating on the documentary she said; “As a designer I have been given the skills to identify and resolve problems. Once I realised that the Clydesdale was considered to be in the extinction vortex, I felt I could not stand by – I had to do something”.

“The Clydesdale Horse is the world’s favourite ‘big’ horse. The breed was perfected here in Scotland in the Clyde Valley and exported around the world where it powered industrial and agricultural revolutions and helped win the First World War.

“Scotland invented the Clydesdale Horse. The first recorded use of the name “Clydesdale” in reference to the breed was in 1826 at an exhibition in Glasgow. Thousands of Clydesdale Horses were put to work in transport and haulage, agriculture and heavy industries with thousands more exported around the world including to Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Russia.”

The documentary filmed over a 2-year period, follows Janice as she travels to Canada to select a black pregnant mare to her farm Lindsayston in Ayrshire, Scotland.

The documentary also reveals her work to establish a global centre for the Clydesdale Horse in Glasgow. This includes an animal genetics centre of excellence, farriery school, conservation and craftsmanship of leather and metal, a working ‘rare breeds’ farm, as well as innovative ways to engage with the wellbeing of local residents and the visitor economy including through equine therapies and horse-centred tours and experiences.

The project aims to breathe new life into Pollok Park, which is home to the wonderful Burrell Collection, Pollok House and a much-loved pedigree herd of Highland Cattle. This ancient breed originated in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and has records dating back to the early 1800s.

Janice said; “It is the perfect place to give our most powerful and handsome rare breed a bright future. It will help to create highly-skilled jobs, new businesses, networks, knowledge, partnerships for people who live nearby and for visitors. It delivers something for everyone—from those with specialised skills and knowledge, to those who want to get close to remarkable horses, history and the craftsmanship associated with them.

“As the project develops, there will be opportunities to interact with horses and other animals; to use science, technology and economic activities to protect and secure the future of the breed; to design, make, repair and repurpose leather goods; to work in a forge; to study and interpret a world-class historic archive; to start a business; to have hands-on experiences by welcoming visitors or working in the city farm.”

The documentary “Clydesdale: Saving the Greatest Horse” is a Stream Scotland Ltd co-production with Canadian partners Infield Fly. It will be screened on BBC Scotland on 30 December 2020 at 19.30 and following transmission will be available throughout the UK on the BBC iPlayer until 29 January 2021.


Enquiries: Meadhbh Hendrie 

Find out more about the film and see the trailer below.


Did you know that we specialise in media relations and external communications? Find out more about what we do here.