The Majestic Clydesdale: A Celebration of Strength and Elegance

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Triumph of Determination: Clydesdale ‘s Journey from Doubt to Victory

In 1983, on the family farm in Saskatchewan, Delvin Szumutku found himself facing an enormous challenge. His father, gravely ill and awaiting heart surgery, had been forbidden by doctors to lift even a suitcase. Despite this, the family’s prized Clydesdale horses were scheduled to participate in the prestigious Yorkton Harvest Show, just a day away. With his father’s determination burning in his heart, Delvin took it upon himself to represent their farm, though the odds seemed stacked against him.

Clydesdale's Journey from Doubt to Victory
Credit: Angelique Cruickshank

Delvin selected one horse, their majestic stallion Boulder Bluffs Maxwell, to carry the family’s hopes. However, Maxwell was far from show-ready. His mane, tail, and feathers were tangled and dirty, a stark contrast to the immaculate horses Delvin would be competing against. With only hours to prepare, Delvin loaded Maxwell and drove through the night, arriving at the show grounds at midnight. He faced a daunting challenge: transform Maxwell into a champion within a mere ten hours.

Throughout the night, Delvin worked tirelessly. He scrubbed Maxwell, washed his mane and tail, and meticulously groomed his feathers until they gleamed a pure white. Determined to defy the doubters, Delvin’s efforts were driven by his father’s unwavering spirit.

As the sun rose, Maxwell stood transformed. The once-doubtful Clydesdale now exuded confidence and grace. When the competition began at 10 am, Delvin led Maxwell into the show ring, his heart swelling with pride and determination. To the amazement of all, Maxwell’s elegance, poise, and sheer presence captivated the judges and the audience.

When Maxwell was announced as the supreme champion, Delvin’s heart swelled with an indescribable mix of triumph and emotion. As he led the magnificent Clydesdale out of the ring, the two old Clyde enthusiasts who had doubted him stared in awe, their skepticism replaced by speechless admiration.

Delvin met their gaze with a triumphant smile, his eyes reflecting the journey they had overcome together. “That’s why I brought him here!” he declared, embodying the spirit of determination, resilience, and unyielding faith that had carried him and Maxwell from uncertainty to victory.

This tale stands as a testament to the unwavering bond between man and horse, illustrating the remarkable heights they can reach when fueled by determination and belief. Delvin and Maxwell’s triumph that day echoed far beyond the show ring, inspiring all who witnessed their remarkable journey.

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Source: Photo courtesy of Delvin Szumutku

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In the heart of Lanarkshire, the rich legacy of Clydesdale horses has been intertwined with the lives of families, shaping their destinies and forging enduring bonds between man and beast. Delvin Szumutku, a testament to this tradition, stands as a proud guardian of his family’s heritage, a legacy that stretches back to the 1700s.

Delvin’s father, Joseph Marvin Szumutku, born in 1923 in Stockholm, Saskatchewan, was a man molded by the resilient spirit of Lanarkshire. Orphaned at the age of 11, he shouldered the responsibilities of farm life, nurturing the land and tending to Clydesdale horses that became the lifeblood of their homestead. His dedication didn’t waver during World War II, where he served as a sergeant in the Canadian Armed Forces, displaying unmatched courage in the battlegrounds of France, Italy, Sicily, and Germany. Despite enduring serious injuries in Belgium, he continued his service, standing as a sentinel at the Nuremburg War Trials.

Returning home, Joseph purchased a 640-acre homestead, embracing the land with the same determination he showed in battle. Clydesdale horses became the cornerstone of their farming efforts, a tradition passed down through generations. Delvin reminisces, “He was the best horseman I will ever know, and he will always be my best friend. I had the best teacher there was.”

The roots of the Clydesdale horses in Lanarkshire run deep, evolving alongside the region’s expanding agricultural and industrial landscape. In the late 1700s, Lanarkshire’s fertile acres were dedicated to horticulture, with Clydesdale horses powering the agricultural engine. These majestic horses became indispensable, hauling coal from mines, supplying wood for various industries, and pulling carts laden with goods to market.

The breed’s transformation took a pivotal turn around 1750 when James Hamilton, the 6th Duke of Hamilton, imported muscular stallions from Belgium. These Flemish draft horses infused the Clydesdale lineage with unparalleled strength and endurance, solidifying their reputation as exceptional working horses.

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Clydesdale Creeks Jacob, winning top honours at the National Clydesdale Show in Wisconsin, USA, in 2008. Photo cfredit : courtesy of Delvin Szumutku

Today, Clydesdale Creek Farms stands as a testament to Lanarkshire’s enduring spirit. Delvin Szumutku, honoring his father’s legacy, continues to nurture Clydesdale horses, preserving a heritage that spans centuries. The Clydesdale horses of Lanarkshire, once the backbone of industry and agriculture, remain a symbol of tradition, valor, and unwavering strength. Their story lives on, echoing through the rolling hills and fertile fields of Lanarkshire, a tribute to the enduring legacy of these magnificent creatures.

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Clydesdale Creeks Princeton, right lead horse for the Rock Crusher hitch in California. Photo courtesy of Delvin Szumutku