It is affectionately called the "Gentle Giant". And rightly so! 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-blooded horse comes from England. It seems to have been brought there by the Normans. Once they were bred for knightly purposes. Of course, they could carry knights and their heavy armour well. Their name was also coined by the "Shires" - the English counties (popular carriage horse there). They also contributed their share to the breeding. In later times, such stronger horses were needed for wars as well as for agriculture.
In the 18th century, the "Bakewell Black" was bred by a farmer (Robert Bakewell). From these sturdy horses came the subsequent breeding of the Shire Horse. In 1878 the Shire Horse Society was founded. The royal house supported this and a studbook set standards for the heavy horse strokes.
At that time, however, many Shires were crossed with the Clydesdale, which caused the pure breeding to falter considerably in the 1960s. The industrial aspect also decimated the big horses. In the end, there were not so many of the beautiful purebred giants left. Fortunately, dedicated breeders and breweries were able to re-emphasise pure breeding. It is clearly thanks to them that this valuable breed did not become extinct.
In the meantime, the existence of Shire Horses is no longer endangered and they are once again among the popular horse breeds. Especially the show scene has discovered the "great" potential of these unique horses. Logical, isn't it? Such a performance is simply impressive!
Appearance and character
The most striking thing first: The Shire Horse is one of the largest horse breeds next to the Clydesdale. The minimum height starts where other horses stop growing, namely at about 163 - 168 cm. Animals with a height of over 190 cm are not uncommon. The purchase of a "ladder" should therefore be considered in any case. The Shire Horse size should not be underestimated. Consequently, a fighting weight of around 1000 kg is completely normal.
But there is more worth seeing about these giants. The coat colour is convincing in beautiful rich brown tones. But there are also many black horses and, more rarely, white horses and chestnuts. Markings, and by that we mean many markings, are highly desirable. For example, the head has a lot of white via flake, star and blaze up to a so-called lantern. Also a visual highlight are the preferably white booted feet with pasterns starting high up. Unfortunately, the latter makes the Shire Horse susceptible to mallenders. Regular full body grooming is a must and, due to the size of the horse, somewhat more time-consuming.
The conformation of these horses is harmonious throughout. They are compact and solidly built all around. The large head (sometimes with a ram's nose) sits appropriately above the enormous rest. Muscle mass is clearly visible in the hindquarters, back, long neck and legs. It enhances the massive appearance even more. The whole thing requires strong joints and big hooves. They definitely have them! With their insane hangings on legs, mane and tail, these beauties make the whole package perfect.
As charming as their appearance is, their inner values are also significant. The stately cold-blooded horse convinces with an incredibly calm gentleness, a great human orientation and a strength of nerve that many a rider can only dream of. They are always sociable and friendly. Just gentle giants.
First and foremost, driving is the ultimate for the Shire. With its concentrated power, every hunting carriage, every Victoria carriage or the heaviest brewery wagons are pulled at shows and parades. As a carriage horse, it can lift a lot of weight. True, when you look at it, it looks so light and elegant. Despite its size, it moves quite gracefully. All in all, the best prerequisites for a carriage horse. Agricultural work (ploughing, moving wood, etc...) is no problem.
The Shire horse also makes a name for itself as a leisure horse. Their composure and calmness promise relaxed rides. Nevertheless, as a late developer, it should be given time in its younger years. As with the Clydesdale, physical development takes a long time. Therefore, breaking in before the age of five is not recommended. Then, however, there is nothing to be said against a future as a leisure horse (apart from long gallop distances and mountainous terrain) or show star.
I think we all agree on that. It has to be out or at least in the right size! Or would you put such a huge animal in a small horse box? No, in this case outdoor or open stabling is certainly the better form of keeping. Such a large cold-blooded horse simply needs the right conditions. Pay attention to mud-free floors and stable stable equipment (walls, doors, troughs, fences, posts etc...)!
By the way: Every horse should have suitable "living conditions" with lots of space, conspecifics and fresh air!
Shire Horses belong to the most beautiful and breathtaking horse breeds in the world. If you are looking for an excellent carriage horse as well as a reliable leisure horse, these giants are certainly the best choice. The affectionate giants give you their heart and immediately open yours. They promise: This cold-blooded horse is hard to beat when it comes to warmth of soul!
Animalon brush recommendation for the Shire Horse:
For the flowing mane of the Shire Horses we recommend the Mane- & Tail brush that combines smooth combing and brushing with an incredible head of hair.
In addition, the powerful pasterns of horses can be tamed and cleaned smoothly with our robust Hoof brush made of natural palm bristles.