The Shire Horse – a mighty colossus and a visual treat
What a caliber! What power! The well-known Shire Horse is clearly the giant among our horse breeds and is without question impressive. This beautiful draft horse not only adorns numerous equestrian sports calendars - his achievements and gentle nature are also impressive.
So it is affectionately known as the “Gentle Giant”. Absolutely rightly so, mind you! Would you like to know more about this oversized Shire Horse? Then let's go, lots of interesting things are waiting for you!
As the name suggests, the Shire cold blood comes from England. It apparently came there through the Normans. They were once drawn for knightly purposes. Of course, they could easily carry knights and heavy armor. Their name is also influenced by the “Shires” - the English counties (a popular carriage horse there). They also contributed their share to the breeding. In later times, such stronger horses were needed for wars and agriculture.
In the 18th century In the 19th century, the “Bakewell Black” was bred by a farmer (Robert Bakewell). These sturdy horses gave rise to the subsequent breeding of the Shire Horse. The Shire Horse Society was founded in 1878. The royal family supported this and a stud book set standards for the heavy horse blows.
At that time, however, many Shires were crossed with the Clydesdale, which caused pure breeding to fluctuate significantly in the 1960s. The industrial aspect also decimated the big horses. In the end there weren't that many of the beautiful, purebred giants left. Fortunately, committed breeders and breweries were able to put emphasis on pure breeding again. It is clearly thanks to them that this valuable breed did not become extinct.
The population of Shire horses is now no longer endangered and they are once again one of the popular horse breeds. The show scene in particular has discovered the “great” potential of these unique horses. Logical, right? Such a performance is simply impressive!
Appearances and character
The most striking thing first: The Shire Horse is, along with the Clydesdale, one of the largest horse breeds. The minimum size starts where other horses stop growing, namely at approx. 163 - 168 cm. Animals with a height over 190 cm are not uncommon. You should definitely think about purchasing a “climbing ladder”. The Shire Horse size should not be underestimated. As a result, a fighting weight of around 1000 kg is completely normal.
But there are even more things worth seeing about these giants. The coat color is convincing in beautiful, rich brown tones. But there are also many black horses and, more rarely, gray horses and foxes. Badges, and by that we mean lots of badges, are highly desired. The head has a lot of white through the flake, star and blaze up to a so-called lantern. Also a visual highlight are the feet, which are preferably in white boots and have ankle coverings that start high up. Unfortunately, the latter makes the Shire Horse susceptible to mud. Regular full body care is a must and, given the size of the horse, can be a bit time-consuming.
The physique of these horses is consistently harmonious. They are compact and stable all around. The large head (sometimes with a ram's nose) sits appropriately above the huge rest. Muscle mass is clearly visible on the hindquarters, back, long neck and legs. It reinforces the massive look even more. The whole thing requires strong joints and big hooves. They definitely have them! With their incredible hair on their legs, mane and tail, these beauties make the overall package perfect.
As attractive as their appearance is, their inner values are just as important. The stately coldblood impresses with an incredibly calm gentleness, a great people-oriented attitude and a strong nerve that many riders can only dream of. They are always sociable and friendly. Just gentle giants.
Above all, driving is the ultimate for the Shire. With their concentrated power, every hunting wagon, every Victoria carriage or the heaviest brewery wagon is pulled at shows and parades. As a carriage horse, it carries a lot of weight. That's right, when you look at it it looks so light and elegant. Despite their size, they move quite gracefully. All in all, the best conditions for a carriage horse. Agricultural work (plow, moving wood, etc.) are also not a problem.
The Shire horse is also making a name for itself as a leisure horse. Their serenity and tranquility promise relaxed rides. Nevertheless, he should be credited with time as a late developer at a young age. Like the Clydesdale, physical development takes a long time. Therefore, breaking in before the age of five is not recommended. Then there is nothing left to hope for a future as a leisure horse (aside from long gallop distances and mountainous terrain) or a show star.
I think we can all agree on that. It has to be taken out or at least resized! Or would you put such a huge animal in a small horse box? No, it's definitely phased out here. Open stable keeping is the better form of keeping. Such a large cold blood simply needs suitable keeping conditions. Use mud-free floors and stable stable equipment (walls, doors, troughs, fences, posts, etc.) pay attention!
On a side note: Every horse should have suitable “living conditions” with plenty of space, companions and fresh air!!!
Big Heart - big heart
Shire Horses are among the most beautiful and breathtaking horse breeds in the world. If you are looking for a reliable leisure horse in addition to an excellent carriage horse, you will certainly be well served with these giants. The loving giants give you their hearts and immediately open yours. Promise: This cold blood can hardly be surpassed in terms of warmth!
Animalons brush recommendation for the Shire Horse:
For the Shire Horse's flowing mane, we recommend the Mane & Tail Brush, which combines smooth combing and brushing with an incredible head of hair.
In addition, the horses' powerful pasterns can be smoothly tamed and cleaned with our robust hoof brush made of natural palm bristles.