Meet the unique horse breed known as the Gentle Giant Shire Horse. They are well-known for their height and strength, and they are durable. For horse enthusiasts, the horse is the finest option.
A British draught horse known as the Shire is believed to have its roots in the counties of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, however, like many ancient breeds, its precise origins are uncertain. It is said to be a descendant of “the Great Horse,” a well-liked combat animal from the Middle Ages.
However, the invention of gunpowder eliminated the need for a heavy horse in combat, and as cavalries turned to lighter mounts, the larger horses were increasingly used in agriculture or for pulling heavy carts
The Great Horses were probably crossed with Friesians and other breeds to create a powerful draught animal called the Old English Black Horse in the 17th century.
By the late 18th century, a stallion called the Packington Blind Horse was standing at stud in Leicestershire.
He is recognized as the foundation sire of the Shire breed. A studbook was established by the English Cart Horse Society (which changed its name to the Shire Horse Society) in 1878, but with records going back to 1701.
Up to the development of the internal combustion engine, Shires were used to pull anything heavy, essentially keeping the UK’s economy and infrastructure afloat.
They moved heavy goods from the docks to the cities and countryside; they hauled goods to and from the railways; they pulled barges; they pulled trams and omnibuses; they collected rubbish from big cities; they worked in fields; and they were extremely popular as dray horses, hauling ale from the brewery to the pubs.
Like many draught breeds, the mechanization of agriculture following the Second World War decimated their numbers.
Once there had been over a million Shires in the UK and United States, but by the 1950s and 1960s, there were only a few thousand left.
The Shire Horse Society and other organizations launched a campaign to preserve the breed in the 1970s, urging brewers to continue using the horses not just as draught animals but also as obedient and compassionate riding mounts. However, the breed is still not completely safe.
Only 240 Shire foals were registered in the UK in 2017 according to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, which reported this in 2018.
Encouraging horse owners to buy heavy draughts isn’t an easy task — they are more expensive than light horses to feed and shoe and may require custom tack.
Like other heavily-feathered horses, Shires are vulnerable to feather mites and mud fever. They are also prone to polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM), a genetic glycogen storage disease that causes tying up and reluctance to work. It is incurable but manageable with the correct diet.
The following are the Shire horse’s key distinguishing characteristics:
Furry feet and big hooves.
Long Mane .
They are an excellent choice of many horse lover due to its distinct features.