The largest horses in the world and most gentle of all draft breeds, Shires are not only gorgeous and powerful, but also very loyal, Gentle Giants.
Our Treasures Do Not Twinkle or Glitter They Shine In the Sun and Neigh In the Night!
Our Treasures Do Not Twinkle or Glitter
They Shine In the Sun and
Neigh In the Night!
What are the Tallest, Heaviest, and
most Gentle of all the draft breeds???
Shires are!!! Although now largely divorced from the natural world, for 100’s of years they have been working with man in close harmony. This magnificent horse has served man both at work and at war. Despite their great size and strength, they are the gentlest of beasts. Hard workers in agriculture or as urban draft horses, their cheerfulness, courage and aptitude for discipline is unrivaled.
Names - Past names referring to the Shire horse are numerous. In the remainder of this page you will see many of the names listed below. Please keep in mind that they all refer to the same breed of horse – the magnificent SHIRE. These names include: Bakewell Black, Black English Cart Horse, Giant Horse of Lincolnshire, The Black Horse, English Cart Horse, English War Horse, Large Black English Horse, The Great Horse, and War Horse of England. In 1884 the name SHIRE was finally adopted for good.
Although war is the ancient heritage and role of the Shire horse, it proved to be even more useful in peace turning from battle to commerce and agriculture. During the 1800s the Shire became nothing less than a national treasure as big Shire geldings moved trade goods off the docks and into the streets. Responding to the need of a horse with enormous bulk, prodigious muscular strength, and docility, the English stockmen and farmers developed what remains........
One of the finest living creations in the
world today -
+ The Shire, considered “The King of all Draft Horses”, is a breed of horse that is believed to have originated from the central regions of
Shire history also traces back to the days of the Roman Conquest in the mid 40AD years. In 1066, William the Conquerer used Shires in battles, quite literally, as a living armored tank. Their sheer size and weight meant they were ideal to carry a full armor-suited knight, often weighing at least 500lbs., into battle even though they weren’t generally regarded as a riding horse. Shire’s being used for jousting and as cavalry horses soon became the norm. The year 1068 brought with it the knowledge that the Shire could also be useful as a pack horse. Between 1154 and 1558 it seems to have been the aim of the government to increase the size and numbers of the "Great Horse" to handle the weight of soldiers in armour (weighing up to 400 pounds).
From present times back to the time of Henry II, it has been policy for the lead-er of
The Shire became nothing less than a national treasure with the passing of these Acts. Big Shire geldings moved the commerce off the docks & through the streets of
The earliest Shire stallion recorded on paper was a black horse, born in 1755, by the name of Packington Blind Horse. This stud serviced mares in Warwick-shire, Leicestershire, and Derbyshire, where seven generations can be traced. These early Shires were thick, powerful animals, with tufts of hair on their knees and upper lip. Size and power were obviously desirable traits, but im-provement of quality and conformation were also important. Robert Bakewell was one of the foremost breeders of Shires in the 1700’s. At his home in Lei-cestershire he began to produce Shires to develop familiar characteristics in the horses and improve the breed. He became so involved in them that, for a time, Shires were named Bakewell Blacks.
During these years of great breeding, there was a need to organize the breed as its own. In 1878 the English Cart Horse Society was formed to improve and promote this great equine. In 1880 the first copy of the Shire stud book was published, with 376 entries. In 1884 the Society decided to change its name to the Shire Horse Society and the name of the horse to simply Shire, which they both remain today. The Shire's popularity continued to grow in
The new found popularity for the Shire was not only in
The Shire again played an important part in the 1st and 2nd World Wars by pulling the heavy artillery. After World War II, with the improvement in machinery, the Shire was no longer needed in either industry or agriculture and in the 1950’s was nearly doomed to extinction due to their greatest opponent yet – the internal combustion engine. With the increased use of mechanized farm and transport equipment, the number of Shires began to decline and eventually dwindled to a small fraction of what they had been in their heyday. It is notable that After WWI the numbers had started to decline but WWII heralded the abrupt end of the Horse Age
Luckily there were a handful of stubborn men in the mid-1960s that the breed owes it’s survival to. These men kept, bred, worked and loved their Shires and this great breed still exists today because of these men.
Although Shire horses have delivered beer daily in the city streets of London, still perform agricultural tasks on farms in rural Britain, are one of the major breeds and the most popular heavy horse in England, there are still less than 2000 of them in the world today. Unfortunately, Shires are on the brink of extinction. This year (2011) as in 2009 and 2010 the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) has placed Shires in the Critical Status on their watchlist. http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/wtchlist.html. This means there are fewer than 200 annual registrations in the
Temperament - One of the virtues of a Shire, that is of special importance in a horse of this size, is that it is reputed to be the most docile of all the draft breeds. They are extremely cheerful while their strength, courage and aptitude for discipline is also unrivaled. Although now largely divorced from the natural world they have retained their kind natures.
Build - Magnificent in appearance; majestic in movement, mild mannered in temperament. The tallest and heaviest, breed of horse in the world. A large, athletic, powerful horse with a powerful, muscular build, dense body, broad back, strong loins, powerful hindquarters, and long legs w/dense bones. They have plenty of stamina and the ability to carry the weight of mounted knights wearing their heavy battle armor weighing in excess of 400 lb. Two important characteristics are the Roman nose and the gentle, widely-spaced eyes. The breed standard specifies that the eyes should be docile in expression, and they are generally brown. The neck should be long and lean, with an arch. This leads to a short, muscular back, with no pronounced dipping or roaching. The Roman nose, gentle, brown eyes, long, lean, arched neck, and short, muscular back are all breed standards.
Feather - A characteristic feature is their abundant hair below the knees and hocks on the lower half of the legs. This long silky hair on the lower half of the legs is called the “feather", while the hair over the foot is known as "spats". Shires have white stockings (or socks) and may come with any number of them from 1 to 4. They may range in size from being just on the “spats” as is on the front feet of our stallion Apollo - or they may go all the way onto the belly of the horse as is the case on our Amy, Charlotte, and Webber. Both spats and feathers can easily break off due to tall weeds, dry weather, etc
Height - Mature horses stand 17-19 hands high. Shire horses are the tallest of all the drafts and the breed standard calls for at least 17 hands. A “hand” is equal to four inches. Many stand 18+ hands and weigh over 2,000lbs. The world biggest horse ever recorded was the Shire named Sampson foaled in 1846, standing over 21.2hands tall at the age of four and at his peak, weighing over 3300lbs. Although some world records exist, it is of utmost importance that excessive height is NOT a goal for which to strive. Many of those horses lead less than ideal lives with many medical problems. 17-18+ hands is plenty tall enough for anyone. Remember – temperament and build are much more important Shire traits for which to aim.
Weight - is usually from 1700-2400 pounds
Strength - An average Shire will weigh around 1 ton (2000lbs) and is well capable of moving a 5-ton load. In 19th Century
Colors - The traditional Shires today are usually black, bay, brown, grey (which turns white), infrequently sorrel and rarely, spotted in their color. They have a blaze and white markings on their lower legs and feet which sometimes travel all the way up to the belly area. At the time of this writing there were only FOUR sorrel stallions in the
Variations on the Shire Horse
Modern & Old-Style
These horses were bred for size early on to support their work and war jobs, but the Shire of today is a more refined horse with fine feather on their feet. Still known for the strength, athletic ability and docile disposition The Shire horse is now primarily used as a draft animal for farm work, logging, and advertising on promotional hitches but is also making a name for itself in the sporthorse world as a hunter/jumper/eventer when crossbred with thoroughbreds.
OLD STYLE SHIRE MODERN STYLE SHIRE
Shires are the “Draft of Choice” for crossing. Besides being the largest and most athletic of the draft breeds, they are also the most elegant. They are light-footed, excellent for riding and driving and pass their agility, grace, trainability and docile attitude to their offspring. Although Shires have been used since the beginning for crossing with other breeds for that breeds improvement, the most famous of Shire Crosses is also horses comes from a smaller Scottish horse that was turned into a true heavy horse by breeding none other than English Shire Stallions in the 1800’s. What is this famous draft called?.....a Clydesdale!!!
ThoroShire - This horse that the British have long known about is fast becoming the #! Sporthorse in all Drum Horses - Although in modern times the Drum horse is a cross of a Gypsy horse from Because of the size, and temperament Shire horses are used in the The drums & riders weigh several hundred pounds so a strong horse is needed. Drummers work the reins with their feet, as their hands are using the drumsticks, which requires a calm-tempered horse. They are now widely used in breeding heavier hunter types by crossing with thoroughbreds and are seen in draft horse competitions worldwide.
Drum Horses - Although in modern times the Drum horse is a cross of a Gypsy horse from
Because of the size, and temperament Shire horses are used in the
The drums & riders weigh several hundred pounds so a strong horse is needed. Drummers work the reins with their feet, as their hands are using the drumsticks, which requires a calm-tempered horse. They are now widely used in breeding heavier hunter types by crossing with thoroughbreds and are seen in draft horse competitions worldwide.