Shire Horse: A Complete detail about Shire horse

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The big shire horse has the origin of mid-England. The breed name cascaded from the great horse in English. The breed was a medium to carry men and battle armor weighing nearly 400 pounds (181 kg approx.). The species was later mutated with mares from Holland and English stallion to use the animal for farming and draft purposes. In the mid-18th century, these horses’ trade started, and the first Shire was sent to the united states but never got the popularity.


A healthy shire height is nearly 17 hands or 68″ approximately and weighs between 2000 to 2200 pounds (900 to 1000 g approximately). The mares and gelding are a little smaller than the giant stallions. The breed has a massive build, big expressive eyes, Roman (convex nose), large and deep shoulder structure, and body contains a substantial barrel. The hair on their body is characterized as a feather that covers their legs to their feet. The feather colors vary from bay, brown, black, chestnut, or grey.

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Short History of the Breed:

The horse naturally belonged to England with some traces o the Roman Conquest era and remained” a part of the time’s well-defined breeds. The word Shire derived from a Saxon word “Schyran” originated in England and means to shear or divide. The name “Shire” is also a synonym of the county. The term was first used in the 16th century by King Henry VII. In the 16th century, the horse breed was a part of a painting portraying the 15th century, showing in the perfect form.

Breed Horses

The breed horses were extensively used in the wars to carry weapons, people, and other stuff used previously. The old stories point that knights used these horses for riding to the battlefields as they had heavy dresses, armors, lance poised, and swords.

As these were the stories and facts are still unknown, many people believe these stories. Afterward, the harness pulling carts take the place to transport armored nights and their ornaments, but of course, the shire horses were put to work for pulling the cart.

The breed becomes one of the most potent and most giant draft horses in Great Britain. The species is still working for brewers to pull beer wagons in stylish teams in the city.

Also, there are sports like weight pulling and plowing competitions, specifically for the shire horse.

Derby, Lincoln, Norfork, Nottingham, Huntington, Leicester, and Cambridge are the Midlands of England known as the shire horses’ home.

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But the breed is spread all over England. These horses also had different names due to their appearance and the task they were useful for.

Great horse, Warhorse, Old England NBlack horse, Carthorse, and Lincoln shire Giant were the previously common name, and now the Shire is a general term for the breed.

The breed was getting infused by outside blood for the improvements. It is noted in history that the breed gets mutated by German Belgian Horses (Flemish) and the Flanders, and this infusion took more than 1000 years back then.

In the 18th century, the breed became an art horse and got introduce with Dutch Friesian, Holland.

In 1853, importing to America got started, but it took nearly 27 years to get substantial importation.

It was during the 18th century that this horse came into particular use for draft and farm purposes. With the improvement of roads and the use of coaches, the draft horse came into specific demand.

During this time, Robert Bakewell significantly improved the Shire under the Leicestershire Cart Horse name by introducing blood from Holland’s best, the Dutch Friesian.

In the 19th century, the Shire became a competitor of country draft horse Percheron. In just a period of 2 years, 1909 to 1911, nearly 6700 horse of the breed got registered with around 80% native bred.

It also became popular in Urban America because of the massive size and flashy build. At the end of World War I, the horses were replaced by trucks, electric streetcars, and subways in the city.

Also, the farmers started to find smaller and economic horses’ breeds to work in the field. Perc herons and Belgians got the center of Midwest draft horse, and the popularity of shires moved to West.

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The species lost the power and became the most rear between the 40s and 50s of the nineteenth century with just 25 horse registrations. Now the breed is making a comeback as in 1985, 121 horses got a roll in America.

The registration organization of Shire Horses:

Americans demanded the registered stock that initializes the English Shire Registry. The Americans and Britain both continued the practice of registration on their respective soils to promote and improve the breed. The Britains invested in the registry in the US to expand the breed and promote the quality. In 1885, the American Shire Horse Association was established. The organization helps in reserving the species as well as to help to make a comeback.


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