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Shire horse horse breed information

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Shire horse description

Shire horse, a breed of draft horse native to central England. It is equal in weight to the Belgian horse and is usually slightly taller. Widely used as a war horse during the Middle Ages, it was well adapted to carry the excessive weight of armor worn by both horse and rider. The Shire was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s, but was never as popular as the Clydesdale or Percheron. It is similar in appearance to the former, with feathery fetlocks.


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Shire horse color

Shire horses can be black, bay, or gray.

Shire horse size

The Shire horse breed is between 16.1 - 17.3hh (can be over 19hh)

Shire horse weight

The average weight is around 1,800 lb ( 820kg )

Shire horse temperament

With a patient and calmness that attracts women and children, the Shire as a solid reputation as a docile horse

Shire horse life expectancy

This breed`s life span is approximately 20 - 35 years

Shire horse origin


Shire horse history

The Shire is a descendant from the medieval warhorse, the Great Horse. The Shire was developed in England first to be used in war and later to work in farms as a draught horse. Friesians and Flanders horses were taken to England by the Dutch and were bred with local specimens. The result would be a resistant horse able to work in the land and carry heavy weights.

In the end of the 19th century, it was created the Old English Cart Horse Society and the Stud Book was published. Six years later the name of the breed would be changed to Shire. The breeding process was submitted to a thorough scrutiny. The formalization of the breeding was the start up point for the growing Shire’s popularity.

The industrial revolution made the use of the Shire in agriculture and transportation something of the past and the breed rapidly lost terrain, literally, to the tractors and other machinery. In the mid 1900s, it was clearly that the breed was practically struggling for survival. What it was once a horse in every corner of the English countryside became no more than a relic of a few breeders. An incentive breeding program for the Shire set up a “revival” wave for the breed that is now recuperating admirers.

Shire horse uses

Although the Shire is still used in agriculture, it is the shows that drive the breed. In England, the Shire is also used to pull brewers drays on short-haul routes in some cities. In the beginning it was used as a warhorse

Shire horse influence

The Shire is widely used in breeding hunter type horses, by being crossed with Thoroughbreds

Shire horse interesting facts

Shire horses on average tend to be the tallest and heaviest of all draft breeds

The most recent Shire to hold the record was Goliath, a dray horse for the Young & Co. brewery who held the Guinness World Record for the tallest living horse at 19.2 hh (1.98 m) until he died in July 2001

Shire horse farms

Gentle Shire Ranch - Canada, Alberta, Didsbury

Northeast Shires - United States, New Hampshire, Epsom

Roads End Farm - United States, Washington, Snohomish

Shir-Shire Farms - United States, Colorado, Peyton

Shire horse pictures

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