The history of the Shire horse
The Shire horse is considered as the largest breed of all horses. It got its name after the English landscape (Shires), and the history is a bit unsure because the book of breeding was not started before the 1800`s. But they think that the breed came from 42 Lombardian horses that came to England at the beginning of 1300`s. 12 of these horses were known for their outstanding strength, and was breeded with inhemian mares, and somewhat later; with Old English Black. Here the breed developed its large size.
At the 1500-1600`s Flamian horses was imported by Dutch farmers. These horses, together with Friesian blood, have improved the Shire horses’ qualities and characteristics. The size was also enlargened by crossing in full blooded breeds, which also has influenced the Shire horses aristocratically emission. At this time large horses that could carry soldiers fully equipped with iron armor and heavy weapons was needed, and the Shire horse had no problem carrying 180 kg over long distances out to war. When the armor and weapons got lighter and smaller, the Shire horse also got used transporting groceries from town to town. The farmers used it as well, pulling ploughs and sleighs. During the industrial revolution, Shire horses pulled the carriage between the fabrics. But the need for big horses decreased as the society got more and more mechanized, and in the 1960`s the breed was quite reduced. But the breeds’ popularity was maintained as a draft horse pulling wagons, secured its existence. This also made the breweries interested, using them to pull their big brewery wagons, something that gave great prestige.
A Shire horse is incredibly strong and can pull heavy loads at 5 tons without further problems. Still it is very pleasant, good minded and careful in its behavior. It still plays an important role in the forests and it is very popular in shows. The Shire horse is mostly a pleasure horse, maybe firstly as a driving horse, but it has gained more popularity in riding areas as well. Even that the height can be up towards 2 meters, the most ordinary is 1,75 - 1,85 meters and the weight is around. It learns new things incredibly easy, and has the characteristically feathers around its feet.
In 1878 was the English Shire Horse Society founded, and they created certain rules over what a Shire horse should look like and how it should be represented. This standard is being followed in the rest of the world today, and you can read more about them under “Breeding standard” in the menu.