How Big Is A Shire Horse?

Shire stallions average slightly more than 17 hands (68 inches, or 173 centimetres) in height and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds (about 900 kilograms).

How big is Shire the biggest horse in the world?

  • The largest horse in recorded history was probably a Shire named Mammoth (also known as Sampson), born in 1848. He stood 219 cm (21.2 h) high, and his peak weight was estimated at 1,524 kilograms (3,360 lb).

Is a shire horse bigger than a Clydesdale?

Both horse breeds have large, muscular, and strong bodies. But, Shires are bigger; they stand at 17 hands and weigh between 1,800 and 2,400 pounds. Clydesdales are not small horses but have a slightly smaller frame when compared to Shires.

What is the biggest horse in the world?

The tallest and heaviest documented horse was the shire gelding Sampson (later renamed Mammoth), bred by Thomas Cleaver of Toddington Mills, Bedfordshire, UK. This horse, foaled 1846, measured 21.2½ hands, 2.19 m (7 ft 2.5 in) in 1850 and was later said to have weighed 1,524 kg (3,359 lb).

What do Shires look like?

Generally massive and somewhat coarse in build, they are characterized by considerable hair, called feather, on their legs and are usually bay, brown, black, gray, or chestnut. In 1878 the Shire Horse Society was established in England; the American Shire Horse Association was founded in 1885.

Why are Shire horses so big?

These Dutch horses were used in the first half of the 17th century when work began on draining the Fens in the east of England in Lincolnshire & Cambridgeshire. A massive wide footed horse was needed to provide the strength and weight needed for the heavy work.

How much do Shire horses sell for?

Shire horses vary in cost from around $2,000 to $20,000, depending on age and their level of training. When selecting a horse, it’s important to get the full picture of its health, temperament, and history.

What is the difference between a cart horse and a shire horse?

The Shire Horse Society of England, the original registry for the Shire, was officially established in 1878 as the English Cart Horse Society, but changed it’s name to Shire Horse Society in 1883, as the term “cart horse” was used then much as “ draft horse ” is used today. Shires may be black, brown, bay or gray.

How many Shire horses are left?

Today, there are fewer than 3,000. Some breeders fear they could be extinct within 10 years

Can Shires jump?

Shire horses are known as gentle giants, but their skill as sport horses isn’t as widely known. They can be talented at dressage and driving, but did you know they can jump? “He’s a very willing and bold horse early in his training [and] is a much loved member of our herd,” she said.

Where do Shires originate from?

The Shire is a strong character with a placid nature. It is the largest British draught horse, standing over 17.2hh in height, and a mature stallion can weigh almost one tonne. They can be black, brown, bay or grey in colour, and roan is acceptable in mares.

Can you ride a Shire horse?

Shire Horses are suitable for any level of rider. And once a Shire is trained correctly, they are patient and can be ridden by any level of rider. They move exceptionally well and have a kind, gentle nature, which makes them a desired breed for therapeutic riding. The Shire is very smooth riding horses.

Shire horse – Wikipedia

This article is about the breed of horse that is discussed here. See Shirehorses for further information on the British rock band.


Shire pulling a carriage
Conservation status At risk (RBST, 2016)
Country of origin United Kingdom
  • Minimum heights for stallions are 173 cm (17.0 hands), geldings are 168 cm (16.2 hands), and mares are 163 cm (16.0 hands).
Colour bay,black, brown orgrey
Distinguishing features
  • Shire Horse Society
  • American Shire Horse Association
  • Shire Horse Society of Australia
  • Shire Horse Society of the United Kingdom

The Shireis a breed of draught horse native to the United Kingdom. It is often black, bay, or grey in color. Shires are a tall breed, and they have held world records for both the largest horse and the tallest horse at various times during their history. Because of its high weight-pulling capabilities, it was employed for farm labor, to draw barges at a time when the canal system served as the primary mode of commodities transportation, and as a cart horse for road transport. Traditional uses included hauling brewery drays for beer delivery, and some of these drays are still in use today.

The Shire breed was founded in the mid-eighteenth century, while its origins may be traced back to far earlier periods of time.

Draught horses were in short supply due to the continuous mechanisation of agriculture and transportation, and by the 1960s, their numbers had dropped from a million or more to only a few thousand, according to some estimates.


A pair of Shire horses is ploughing the field. Despite the fact that oxen were still utilized for the majority of farm work into the seventeenth century, horses “suitable for the dray, the plough, or the chariot” were available for purchase in London’s Smithfield Market as early as 1145. Although the English Great Horse was highly prized during the reign of Henry VIII, when stallions measuring less than ‘fifteen handfuls’ were not allowed to be maintained, the rising importance of gunpowder eventually brought about the end of the employment of large horses in war.

When Dutch engineers came to England to drain the Fens in the sixteenth century, they took Friesian horses with them, and it is possible that these horses had an impact on the development of the Shire breed in later centuries.

It was the disciples of Robert Bakewell, of Dishley Grange in Leicestershire, who made significant improvements to the Black Horse, which resulted in a horse that is frequently referred to as the “Bakewell Black.” Bakewell acquired six DutchorFlandersmares, which was remarkable because breeders preferred to focus their efforts on developing the male lineage of the breed.

  • When compared to the Fen type, the Midlands type tended to be bigger with more bone and hair, while the Fen type tended to be more endurance-oriented while being finer in appearance.
  • The “Packington Blind Horse” of Leicestershire is one of the most well-known horses of the era, with direct offspring being recorded from 1770 to 1832 from the original horse.
  • The difficult roads necessitated the use of huge horses with vast musculature to haul heavy loads.
  • The Shire Horse Society was founded in 1878 as a successor to the English Cart Horse Society, which had been renamed in 1884.
  • In the years between 1901 and 1914, the society recorded more over 5,000 Shires per year.: 287 The first Shire horses were imported into the United States in 1853, and huge numbers of horses were imported into the country in the 1880s.
  • It is still active today.
  • Between 1909 and 1911, over 6,700 Shires were registered with the United States Association of Shires.

Thousands of Shires were slaughtered, and several significant breeding studs were closed as a result of the killing.

The breed began to see a resurgence in the 1970s as a result of growing public interest.

In 1997, five Australian mares were used in the first instance of artificial insemination using frozen sperm in the breed.

The Shire has seen significant transformation between the 1920s and the 1930s and now.

Shires had a population of over a million people during the height of their power.

When compared to other European countries, the Shire population in the United States declined dramatically in the first half of the twentieth century and continued to diminish throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

However, the number of horses registered in the United States started to rise, and by 1985, 121 horses had been registered.

The National Shire Horse Spring Show is held once a year and is the largest Shire show in the United Kingdom, with over 2,000 entries.

For example, the Livestock Conservancy considers it “important,” while the Equus Survival Trust considers it “vulnerable” in the United States.


Shirestallions are available in a variety of colors, including black, bay, brown, and grey. They may or may not have a big quantity of white patterns on their bodies. Mares and geldings can be any color, including black, bay, brown, grey, and roan. Stallions may not be chestnut in the United Kingdom, however the color is permitted by the American Horse Association. At the withers, the average height of fully matured stallions is around 178 cm (17.2 hands), with a minimum height of 173 cm (17.0 hands); geldings should stand at least 168 cm (16.2 hands), and mares should stand no less than 163 cm (16.2 hands) (16.0 h).

  • In comparison to its body, the Shire’s head is long and thin, with huge eyes set on a neck that is somewhat arched and long in proportion to the rest of the body.
  • Legs are seldom feathered to an excessive degree, and the hair is light, straight, and smooth in texture.
  • It has been determined that Shires are at risk for chronic progressive lymphedema, a chronic progressive illness characterized by symptoms such as progressive swelling, hyperkeratosis, and fibrosis of the distal extremities (distal limbs).
  • The Shire has an incredible ability to pull a lot of heavy loads.
  • At a subsequent show, the same pair of horses hauled 18.5 tonnes while working on slick terrain.: 287 Mammoth (also known as Sampson) was a Shire that was born in 1848 and was arguably the world’s biggest horse ever documented in history.


At one time, the Shire horse was the most common breed, and it was employed to pull carts that delivered beer from the brewery to the local establishments. In the United Kingdom, a small number of brewers still adhere to this custom. There are several breweries in the area, including theWadworth Brewery in Devizes, Wiltshire, theHook Norton Brewery in Hook Norton, theSamuel Smith Brewery in Tadcaster, Robinsons Brewery, and Thwaites Brewery, which made Shire-drawn deliveries from the early 1800s to the 1920s, then resumed service in 1960, with deliveries continuing to be made by horse-drawn wagons to this day.

Several breweries, notably theTetleybrewery inLeeds, have lately announced that they would no longer field Shire horse teams. The breed is now being employed for forestry labor as well as for recreational riding.


  1. Abcde”Standard of Points for Shires” is an abbreviation for the Standard of Points for Shires. The Shire Horse Society is a non-profit organization. abcdElwyn Hartley Edwards, retrieved on August 2, 2011
  2. Abcd (1994). The Horse’s Encyclopaedia is a resource for horse enthusiasts. ISBN 0751301159
  3. Ab”About the Shire Horse” by Dorling Kindersley, published in London, New York, Stuttgart, and Moscow. The Shire Horse Society is a non-profit organization. The authors Valerie Porter, Lawrence Alderson, Stephen J. G. Hall, and D. Phillip Sponenberg provided access to their work in February 2019. (2016). Mason’s World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding (Mason’s World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding) (sixth edition). Welcome to the Canadian Shire Horse Association, published by CABI (ISBN 9781780647944) in Wallingford, Ontario. The Canadian Shire Horse Association is a non-profit organization. AbcdHart, E. (March 2019)
  4. Accessed March 2019. (1986). The Book of the Heavy Horse is a book about a heavy horse. Page numbers 45–63 in Wellingborough: Patrick Stephens Limited. ISBN0-85059-640-8
  5. AbHendricks, Bonnie, et al (2007). The International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds is a comprehensive resource for information about horse breeds from across the world. University of Oklahoma Press, p. 381, ISBN 978-0-8061-3884-8
  6. Swinney, Nicola Jane, p. 381, ISBN 978-0-8061-3884-8 (2006). Horse Breeds from Around the World p. 178.ISBN1-59228-990-8
  7. “Shire.”Breeds of Livestock. ISBN1-59228-990-8
  8. “Shire.”Breeds of Livestock. Oklahoma State University is located in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Ward, John (abcdefWard, John) was able to be located on 4 October 2009. (1998). “The Shire Horse” is a horse from the Shire. The Manual for the Working Horse. Farming Press, Tonbridge, UK, pp. 11–13, ISBN 0-85236-401-6
  9. Abc”Shire Draft Horse,” Farming Press, Tonbridge, UK, pp. 11–13, ISBN 0-85236-401-6
  10. Abc”Shire Draft Horse,” Farming Press, Tonbridge, UK, pp. 11–13, ISBN 0-85236-401-6 Horse Breeds from Around the World The International Museum of the Horse is located in London, England. The original version of this article was published on October 29, 2007. “About the Shire Horse Society,” which was retrieved on October 8, 2009. The Shire Horse Society is a non-profit organization. The original version of this article was published on August 10, 2011. “Watchlist,” which was retrieved on August 2, 2011. Breeds Survival Trust for Extinct and Endangered Animals. The original version of this article was published on March 24, 2009. “Breed Information – ALBC Conservation Priority List,” which was retrieved on October 7, 2009. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of livestock breeds. “Equus Survival Trust Equine Conservation List,” which was retrieved on October 7, 2009. (PDF). Equus Survival Trust is a charitable organization dedicated to the preservation of the Equus species. “ASHA Standard of Conformity Guideline,” which was retrieved on October 7, 2009. The American Shire Horse Association is a non-profit organization. The original version of this article was published on January 13, 2013. “Chronic Progressive Lymphedema (CPL) in Draft Horses” was published in 2009 and was retrieved on 4 October 2009. Davis is the home of the University of California. The original version of this article was archived on February 3, 2013. Whitaker, Julie
  11. Whitelaw, Ian (2010, May 22)
  12. Whitaker, Julie
  13. (2007). The Horse: A Miscellany of Equine Knowledge is a collection of articles on the subject of horses. New York: St. Martin’s Press, p. 60, ISBN 978-0-312-37108-1
  14. “Shire Horses,” WadworthCo, Ltd., p. 60, ISBN 978-0-312-37108-1
  15. “Shire Horses,” WadworthCo, Ltd., p. 60, ISBN 978-0-312-37 “The Shire Horses at Work at the Brewery,” which was retrieved on October 8, 2009. Hook Norton Brewery is located in Hook Norton, England. The original version of this article was published on November 26, 2011. “Samuel Smith Brewery,” which was retrieved on October 8, 2009. “Samuel Smith,” which was retrieved on January 14, 2011. Vintner’s merchant. “Robinsons Brewery Stockport – Visitors Centre and Shire horses”.
  16. “Robinsons Brewery Stockport – Visitors Centre and Shire horses.”
  17. “Robinsons Brewery Stockport – Visitors Center and Shire horses.”
  18. “Robinsons Brewery Stockport – Visitors Center and Shire horses” (29 October 2008). “After 15 years of delivery, the shire horse at Thwaites brewery has decided to retire.” HorseHound. The original version of this article was published on March 18, 2012. “Time called on the Tetley dray horses,” according to a report published on August 2, 2011. The BBC reported on May 8, 2006, that retrieved on the 8th of October, 2009

How Tall Is A Shire Horse? A Look at The Shire Horse Breed.

Any links on this page that direct you to things on Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I will receive a compensation. Thank you in advance for your assistance — I much appreciate it! When I initially stood next to a Shire horse, I was taken aback. I wasn’t sure if this particular particle horse was particularly tall or if all Shires are as enormous. I was wrong. As a result, I decided to conduct further study on the breed in order to discover more about its size and qualities.

It was the Shire that held the global record for being both the tallest and the biggest breed on earth.

Shires offer a variety of positive characteristics and might be the horse for you.

Shire Horses are big.

The Shire horse is 17.2 hands tall and weighs roughly 2,000 pounds on average, according to the British Horse Society. Compared to its body, the Shire’s head is long and thin, with a long neck in relation to its body. The depth and width of their shoulders allow them to wear a collar comfortably. A Shire stallion’s girth can measure up to 8 feet in circumference. His back is short, sturdy, and muscular, and he will not be dipped in any direction.

A Shires girth can measure eight feet.

With a broad chest and muscular hindquarters, the Shire should be a striking sight. His feet are large, sturdy, and broad, with thick open walls that provide a lot of traction. Shire hair should be fine, straight, and velvety in appearance. Hindquarters a long, sweeping sweep, broad and full of muscle, well let down toward the thighs When traveling, he should maintain an upright posture with his head and tail.

Shires are taller than Clydesdales horses.

Shire horses are often taller than Clydesdales. When it comes to height, the typical Shire stands 17.2 hands tall, whereas the average Clydesdale reaches 17 hands. Although there are Clydesdales that are taller than Shires, Shires are normally taller. Clydesdales are the famous horses who drive the Budweiser wagons across the country. They are enormous horses, although they are not as tall as the Shire horse, which is a rare exception.

Clydesdale horses typically weigh more than Shires.

Their breeds are enormous, with Clydesdale horses being built stockier than Shire horses and weighing on average more than twice as much; both average weights are above 2,000 pounds. A healthy Shire, on the other hand, seems tall and sophisticated, but a fit Clydesdale appears bulky and has shorter legs. In addition, although both breeds have feathering, the Clydesdale horse’s feathering is far more pronounced than the other. Horses have lengthy hair around their ankles, which is known as feathering.

A pair of Shire horses pulled 50 tons.

The weight is 50 tons. A pair of British Shires allegedly hauled a beginning load weighing 50 tons, while a single Shire once hauled a weight weighing 29 tons, according to legend. It was during the age of the Industrial Revolution that a statewide canal system was created in the United Kingdom. It was possible to move huge loads across long distances via the canal system. The Shire horse was well adapted to the task of towing barges filled with commodities up and down canals to their respective destinations.

Prior to the invention of the combustion engine, the Shire was also used to carry passengers in buses and trams. Traditionally, draft horses have been bred to pull, and no horse breed was more suited to the job than the Shire.

Shires coat colors.

When registering with the Shire Horse Society, only coat colors in the shades of brown, bay, or gray will be accepted. The horses are normally quite dark, with the majority of them being either black or dark brown. The Shire Horse Society strictly prohibits the entry of horses with roan or chestnut coat colors, as well as horses with an excessive amount of white markings. To learn more about the many equine coat colors that can be found in different horse breeds, check out our page here.

The Shire Horse and Clydesdale have different coloring.

The Shire horse breed and the Clydesdale horse breed have a few characteristics in common, the most notable of which being that they are both large draft horses that originated in Great Britain. But what exactly are the distinctions? In comparison to each other, the two breeds have different coloring: They are mainly dark-colored horses, with a minor bit of white coloration on occasion. Shires may be a variety of colors, including gray. The Shire’s basic colors are black, bay, brown, and grey, with a few variations.

A white marking on their face, feet, and legs, as well as spotting on their body, is found on the majority of Clydesdales.

Shires temperament.

Shires have a nice disposition. As a result of their huge proportions and generally laid-back demeanor, Shires are frequently referred to as the “gentle giants” of the horse world. They aren’t shy and are at ease among other animals, children, automobiles, and loud noises, among other things. They do, however, show symptoms of being obstinate at times. In the horse business, the term temperament is used to define the overall attitude and personality qualities that a group or breed of horses exhibits.

  1. Shires are cold-blooded draft horses with the characteristics of power, patience, and a calm disposition in common with other draft horses.
  2. These words refer to the traits that a horse may exhibit at any given time.
  3. Shires have calm even temperaments.
  4. For Shires, respect must flow both ways, or they will refuse to move.
  5. However, they don’t get hostile; they merely turn statuesque.
  6. The disposition of a Shire horse is prized by horse owners.
  7. They would be a terrific addition to anyone’s farm.

Shire horses are descendants of the “Great Horse.”

It is very likely that the “Great Horse” was destriers. They were renowned for their power, size, bravery, and endurance during the medieval period, when they transported armored knights into combat on their backs. These incredible animals served as the foundation for several current breeds, including the Shire, which is a result of breeding the “Great Horse” with Friesians and Flemish horses, among other sources.

To learn more about the horses that have been used in conflict throughout history, visit this site.

The Shire was originally named Lincolnshire black.

Rural counties in England are known as Shires, and they are traditionally agricultural areas. It was initially known as Lincolnshire Blacks, but the term was eventually abbreviated to Shire horses because of the location of the horses. The Shire has its origins in England. In order to offer more durable mounts for armored knights in combat, native British horses were bred to become bigger horses. Originally from Scotland, the Clydesdale was developed via cross-breeding of Flemish horses with Scottish horses, resulting in a new and larger breed.

Shire Horses are endangered.

Shire horses are included on the lists of the three major animal conservation organizations for at-risk breeds at differing degrees, depending on the organization. The three organizations involved are the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, the Livestock Conservancy, and the Equus Survival Trust, among others. The Shire breed had a peak population of more over a million individuals. Shires were employed to tend fields and carry large loads, but as equipment became more prevalent, their usefulness and population began to decline considerably, as did their numbers.

It was estimated that the population had decreased to a few thousand people by the mid-1960s.

Shires participate in a variety of equine activities.

On the functions of the three major animal conservation organizations for at-risk breeds, shire horses are mentioned in varied degrees, depending on who you ask. Rare Breeds Survival Trust, the Livestock Conservancy, and the Equus Survival Trust are the three organizations involved. More than a million Shires were in existence at one time. Originally, shires were employed to cultivate fields and haul heavy burdens; but, as equipment became more prevalent, their use and population began to decline drastically.

It was estimated that the population had decreased to a few thousand by the 1960s.

Shires shine as a therapeutic riding horse.

Although shires are bred to pull, which is what they are best at, they are also capable of being used as riding horses. They have a pleasant personality, are athletic movers, and are eager to learn, making them suitable for practically any rider’s requirements. These gentle giants are ideal for therapeutic riding as well as for public riding stables and arenas. Shires that have been crossed with warmbloods make excellent dressage and jumping horses. Because of the Shire’s calm attitude, they are utilized by police enforcement for a number of functions, but they are particularly effective in crowd control and search and rescue operations.

A Suffolk Punch is not a Shire horse

The Suffolk Punch is a distinct breed in and of itself.

It is a big draft horse from Great Britain, similar in size to the Clydesdale and the Shire. Despite the fact that a Suffolk Punch is not as tall as either the Shire of Clydesdale or the Shire of York, it is a stouter horse, and most of them weigh far more than the Shire.

Shire horses have a long lifespan for a draft breed.

The average longevity of a Shire horse is 28 years, which is comparable to the lifespan of lesser horse breeds. Despite the fact that this breed is one of the largest horse breeds, the Shire horse has a lifespan that is comparable to that of smaller horse types.

Shire horses eat hay, grass, and grains.

The Shire need carbs, lipids, and proteins in order to survive. These nutrients are obtained by the consumption of hay, grass, grains, or concentrated diets. The nutrients that the Shire need to maintain its health are the same as those required by other horses, but because to their bigger size, they require significantly greater quantities. Depending on whether the Shire horse is being worked or is in training, he can consume up to 44 pounds of hay day. When feeding grain to your horse, you will need to keep an eye on him.

  1. It is also critical to provide the horse with access to fresh, clean water on a consistent basis.
  2. The body of a horse is composed of around 80% water by volume.
  3. Fresh grass includes a significant amount of water, but horses require far more than what they can obtain through grazing.
  4. It is also critical not to overfeed a horse’s grain intake.
  5. These problems develop as a result of an excessive amount of grain spilling into the hindgut, resulting in huge volumes of gas and acid being produced.

Shire’s shouldn’t eat more too much grain.

Gas and acid production result in pain, colic, and, in some cases, laminitis in the horse. It is recommended that the Shire be fed no more than 1 percent of his body weight in grain, as is the case with most other horses. When feeding a young horse throughout their growth stage, it is important to be kind with the horse. Too much grain can cause the horse’s bones to expand too quickly and become porous as a result of the excessive growth. Porous bones are fragile and can break easily, resulting in a variety of long-term orthopedic disorders.

You should keep track of how much food your horse is eating and maintain a journal of it.

Contact a veterinarian as soon as you discover he is not finishing his usual quantity of grain or hay.

Related articles:

  • Whether or not Percherons, the French Draft Horses, can be ridden
  • Five massive draft horses are among the world’s largest breeds. Discovering the various horse breeds that have been used in warfare
  • Is it possible to ride Shire horses if they are too large? The 12 Horse Coat Colors: Patterns, Genetics, and Photographic Illustrations

Meet the Magnificent Shire Horse

The gorgeous and endangered shire horse is most renowned for its height and power, and it holds the world record for being the tallest horse on the planet. This kind of horse, which looks similar to a Clydesdale, is very huge, with big hooves and feathering on its legs to match.

Although they are enormous in stature, shire horses are normally placid, gentle, and eager to please their riders. They may be beneficial for horse enthusiasts of any skill level, provided that the individual is comfortable with such a massive animal.

Breed Overview

Weight ranges between 1,800 and 2,400 pounds. Height ranges from 16 hands (64 inches) to 18 hands (68 inches) (72 inches) Very tall with a muscular frame, huge hooves, feathering on the legs, a long, arched neck and a snout with a hint of Roman influence. Best for: Riders and business owners of all skill levels. Life expectancy ranges between 25 to 30 years.

Shire Horse History and Origins

Shire horses were called after the shires (countryside) in the United Kingdom, where the breed was established. Many people think that the Great Horse of the United Kingdom, which was employed in war, is the ancestor of the modern shire horse. It’s possible that Flemish horses with leg feathering had an impact on the breed as well. The Shire Horse Society, formerly known as the English Cart Horse Society, was established in 1878 to serve as a breed registration for the Shire Horse. Shire horses were introduced to the United States in 1853, although they were never particularly popular.

The shire horse was employed for its great pulling strength in the days before machines took over as the workhorse of farm and industry.

Shire Horse Size

When measured in hands (64 inches), the shire horse is the tallest horse breed, standing at an average height of roughly 16 hands (64 inches) (72 inches). Some shires can grow to be 19 hands (76 inches) or even taller, with the stallions being noticeably taller than the mares in most cases. The weight of the breed is normally between 1,800 and 2,400 pounds.

Shire Horse Breeding and Uses

Yorkshire horses were bred specifically for pulling carts of ale from breweries to public places. Because of their size, strength, and calm disposition, they were in high demand. A century ago, these gentle giants were extensively used as farm horses for a variety of tasks like as hauling carts or laboring in fields. Back when coal was a primary source of heat and light, shires were used to haul massive coal carts through rugged terrain. Today, the shire horse is still widely used for pulling vehicles, such as touring carts, and many equestrians love riding the gentle species for recreational purposes as well.

They are also a popular advertising technique for modern-day beer makers, some of which are resuming their use of horse and wagon to carry their product.

Colors and Markings

Shire horses are usually seen in the colors black, bay, gray, and brown. Chestnut hues are not permitted under the breed standard in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, while the horses frequently have white markings on their faces and legs, excessive white markings are not desirable for the breed.

Unique Characteristics of the Shire Horse

The shire horse’s most distinguishing attributes are its imposing height and tremendous strength, both of which have been described in both historical records and anecdotal evidence. For example, in the 1920s, a pair of shires was said to have hauled a cargo weighing more than 45 tons, albeit the precise weight could not be established since the load surpassed the scale’s weight capacity limit. In addition, the breed is well-known for its laid-back demeanor. Shires are not easily frightened. This characteristic most likely developed as a result of the breed’s initial application, which was to confidently transport men in heavy armor into noisy, dangerous fighting scenarios.

Aside from that, shire horses have characteristic feathering—long strands of hair—on their lower legs, similar to Clydesdales, and their hooves are huge.

Diet and Nutrition

Shire horses are fed a conventional horse diet that consists of high-quality hay, grain, vegetables, and fruits, among other things. They just require far more food (as well as water) than an average-sized horse in order to maintain a healthy body weight. A high-fat diet, according to some veterinarians, can help prevent polysaccharide storage myopathy, which is a disorder that causes spasms in the hind legs.

Common Health and Behavior Problems

Shire horses are normally in good condition and have very calm and amiable dispositions. However, the breed is prone to chronic progressive lymphedema, which can be fatal. This is a disorder in which the legs gradually get swollen over time, however treatment can assist to halt the course of the disease. Aside from that, although polysaccharide storage myopathy is not widespread in shire horses, some of them may still be affected by it and experience limb stiffness, cramps, and spasms.


In order to minimize skin irritation and illness, it is necessary to brush and clean the feathering around the lower legs of a shire horse on a regular basis. Additionally, following a wash, it is critical to completely dry the feathering since a damp environment might encourage the growth of germs and fungus. Aside from that, these horses require just regular equine grooming procedures. However, to reach all of the high areas on your horse’s body, you may need to use a strong stool or a ladder.

  • It needs more grooming care
  • Upkeep can be costly.

Champion and Celebrity Shire Horses

The stately Goliath, who died in 2001, was one of the most famous shire horses in history. At more than 19.5 hands tall, he was the tallest horse in the United Kingdom at the time of his measurement. In addition, he was included in “The Guinness Book of World Records” in 2000 as the world’s tallest live horse, making him the world’s tallest living horse. He was a gorgeous black horse that was well-known for his kind nature. He was a part of a show horse team owned by the Young & Co. brewery in London.

He was 21.2 feet tall and weighed around 3,300 pounds, according to estimates.

Is the Shire Horse Right for You?

The vast majority of shire horses are controllable, even for inexperienced owners and riders, despite their enormous size. Some riders may require assistance in boarding the vehicle, but they may be generally certain of a smooth trip. Shires are not known to rear or buck, and they are not readily startled. They have a strong desire to please and are simple to teach. A shire, on the other hand, is an extremely costly breed to maintain. Because of its massive size, it consumes far more feed than the majority of other horse breeds.

However, if you have the time and resources to properly care for this horse, it may be an excellent companion.

How to Adopt or Buy

Because of the breed’s scarcity, shire horses might be difficult to come by in good condition. When it comes to finding reliable horse rescues or breeders, doing your research online is typically the best option. However, it is strongly advised that you spend time with a horse before making the decision to bring it home. Shire horses may range in price from around $2,000 to $20,000, depending on their age and level of preparation.

When choosing a horse, it’s critical to have a complete understanding of the animal’s health, temperament, and history before making your decision. A reputable rescue or breeder will be forthcoming with information about its animals in order to assist you in finding the best match.

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If you’re looking for comparable breeds, take a look at these: You may also browse through all of our other horsebreed profiles if you want something else.

Shire Horse Breed: Information, Size, History & Pictures

The English Shire Horse is one of the most magnificent breeds of draft horse, and it is one of the most often used. A vast and varied history has been written about it, and throughout that history, it has managed to remain helpful and relevant despite the passage of time because to its gentle nature and amazing strength. The horse in question is perhaps probably less well-known than others, so we’ll cover all you need to know about this magnificent creature in this piece.

Appearance and character

The English Shire Horse is one of the most magnificent of all the kinds of draft horses. A vast and varied history has been written about it, and throughout that history, it has managed to remain helpful and relevant despite the passage of time because to its gentle nature and remarkable strength. It is also a horse that is maybe less well-known than others, therefore in this piece, we’ll cover all you need to know about this wonderful animal, including its history.

Early history – warlike origins

Although the exact roots of the Shire have been lost to time, it is probable that they are descended from the English Great Horse, which was a military horse developed specifically for battle use. During the Middle Ages, when knights began to wear heavy armor, the smaller horses and ponies of the period were no longer able to support the weight of the mounted warrior, and so larger, more powerful horses were developed to replace them. As combat technology progressed and knights in armor were rendered obsolete by the invention of gunpowder, these horses went out of favor in battle, and were eventually replaced by smaller, quicker, and more agile cavalry mounts that were more nimble and maneuverable.

Development of the modern Shire – a powerful workhorse

A significant development in the history of the Shire Horse occurred in the 16th century, when Dutch engineers were recruited to the country in order to assist in the draining of the Fens in England. A crucial step towards the current Shire was made possible by the Dutch engineers, who brought their Friesian horses with them, which they crossed with indigenous English horses to produce the ensuing animals. Following the introduction of Dutch blood into the line, these enormous English horses continued to grow via selective breeding in order to meet the demands of the modern era.

Large and powerful horses began to replace oxen in the fields around that time, owing to their speed and intelligence, which had previously been the basis of agricultural work – and the ancestors of the current Shire were well suited for this type of activity.

The harnesses used with oxen prohibited horses from breathing properly until this time, which meant that oxen were significantly superior at hard farm work up to this moment.

Because the roads of the day were rugged and uneven, huge and muscular horses were required to draw carts filled with goods across the country, and the Shire was the ideal location for this type of employment.

A new network of canals was also being constructed at this same period as the country was undergoing the Industrial Revolution. As a result, the Shires were able to find new employment pulling the barges that delivered the massive quantities of commodities that were suddenly being manufactured.

The advent of the railway – and the reinvention of the Shire Horse

The construction and subsequent extension of the railway marked the beginning of the next chapter in the history of the Shire Horse. Due to the expansion of the rail network in England, the once-critical canal system began to deteriorate, and the Shires were no longer required as barge horses. This did not imply, however, that they were no longer essential for transportation. Items had to be transported from the railway stations to their eventual destination, and these dependable horses were put to work transporting the goods wherever they were required to travel.

Another traditional profession that they were employed for – and that they are still used for on a lesser scale today – was hauling brewer’s drays, which were carts laden with beer that were transported from breweries to public places.

Aside from coal transportation and waste clearance, they were also necessary for other critical activities.

Mechanization and decline – the end of the Shire?

Because of the Shire Horse’s adaptability, its strength has always been in high demand throughout its history. As a result, even when it was no longer necessary for one activity, another application was invariably discovered, ensuring the breed’s continued existence. It wasn’t until the introduction of mechanical farming and road transportation, which began in the early twentieth century, that the need for Shire horses began to wane. Although it may have started with the development of the railway, it was the introduction of the tractor that signified the end of the Shire horse as a regular aspect of English life, and the number of Shire horses began to decline.

By the 1950s, there were just a few thousand Shire Horses left in England, out of a total population of roughly a million.

Revival and reinvention

Fortunately, the Shire Horse did not become extinct completely. In the 1950s, Clydesdale blood was added into the line, altering the look of the feathering on the legs, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that a small group of dedicated breeders went out to attempt to bring the breed back to life. Although Shire Horses are no longer essential for farming or transportation, their numbers have increased slightly in recent years – despite the fact that the breed is still classified as “at risk,” “vulnerable,” or even “critical” by several organizations in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Shire Horse in the US

Despite the fact that the Shire Horse is most strongly connected with England, it was first shipped to the United States of America in 1853. A substantial amount of the breed was imported in the following years, particularly during the 1880s, and the American Shire Horse Association was established in 1885. Shires were not frequently utilized for farming in North America, in contrast to their widespread use in England. Instead, they were brought in for the purpose of breeding, in order to raise the status of the local farming stock.

However, just like in the United Kingdom, as farming grew increasingly automated, draft horses went out of favor, and Shires are now considered to be an uncommon breed in the United States.

Modern uses

In the present world, Shire horses are no longer required for the duties that they once performed since machines are now available that can perform practically any task significantly more swiftly and efficiently. Some, however, are still in use for small-scale farming, whether on farms that exist to showcase old agricultural techniques or on farms that are attempting to adopt more environmentally friendly practices. Shires are most frequently seen at horse exhibitions, either pulling carriages or competing in events such as polo.

At the same time, the general public is given the opportunity to witness these horses in action, providing a means for people to preserve their cultural legacy.

The classic “gypsy caravans” are also occasionally seen being towed by Shire Horses, however this is more common during agricultural fairs.

Shire Horses are sometimes utilized for forestry work in areas where motorized vehicles would do too much harm to the ecosystem to be practical.

Caring for a Shire Horse

Despite their size, Shire Horses are quite easy to care for in most respects, with the major problem being from their temperament. In terms of nutrition, they require a diet similar to that of any other horse, which should contain high-quality hay, grain, fruit, and vegetables — it’s just that they require more of it than the majority of other types of horses. Of course, they’ll require extra water as a result of the drought. The feathering around the legs of a Shire Horse is something you’ll want to pay close attention to if you decide to keep one as a pet.

Additionally, after washing, the feathering must be thoroughly dried since moist feathering can hold fungal growth and germs.

Final issue to mention is that equipment for a Shire may need to be manufactured specifically for it due to the fact that equipment for standard horses will be too tiny – and that this may increase the expense of maintaining one.

Health problems

A illness known as chronic progressive lymphedema, which is analogous to chronic lymphedema in humans and causes the horse’s legs to enlarge over time, has been identified in Shire Horses as being particularly susceptible. Though not prevalent in Shire Horses, polysaccharide storage myopathy can arise – and some veterinarians propose high-fat diets to help avoid it — it is a disease that some veterinarians recommend. With the exception of these concerns, Shire Horses are typically robust and healthy animals, and when well-cared for, they may live for an average of roughly 28 years or more.

Is the Shire the right breed for you?

Despite its large size and the associated care requirements, the Shire is a relatively simple breed to maintain and is even acceptable for individuals with no previous experience with horses. This is due to the fact that they are peaceful and gentle creatures who do not fear quickly, which makes them more forgiving to novice owners or riders than most other animals. In addition, they are simple to train. Nevertheless, before making the decision to purchase a Shire Horse, you should consider the additional effort and costs that will be incurred as a result of their size, since caring for such a huge animal may not be suitable for everyone.

A beautiful animal that has always found its place

Because the Shire Horse is a powerful, willing, and adaptable animal that has survived for hundreds of years despite the changes in the world around it, it has always found a niche for itself. Despite the fact that Shires are no longer required for the majority of the duties that they originally performed, they have managed to carve out a niche for themselves in the contemporary world, allowing us to maintain this magnificent breed of horse and pass it on to future generations.

Shire Horse Breed Information, History, Videos, Pictures

The Shire is one of the world’s largest horses, and they are renowned for their ability to haul massive loads of weight. It is presently employed as a pleasure horse, in addition to being used for a variety of other draft-related activities. It is sometimes referred to as the peaceful giant due to its enormous size and serene demeanor. It is in the interest of the horse’s current population to keep it alive.

Shire Horse Pictures

Behavioral Traits Mild-mannered, noble, willing, adaptable, gentle
PhysicalCharacteristics The structure is massive, with a big head, large eyes; the long neck is slightly arched ending in a wide chest and broad shoulders; the legs are muscular with the perfect hocks set for maximum leverage; the back of the legs are covered with dense feathering while the hooves are round and large
Coat Colors Black, Bay, Gray, Chestnut (traditional colors)
Height/Size Large;Stallions:17 hands (68 inches or 173 cm);Mares:16 hands (64 inches or 163 cm);Geldings:16.2 hands (66 inches or 168 cm)(Up to 21.2 hands)
Weight Heavy; 1800 pounds
Life Expectancy 25-30 years
Common Uses General riding, dressage, eventing, pulling hefty goods
Health Problems Healthy in general; no specific diseases
Type Cart Horse, Heavy Draft Horse, Riding Horse, Sports Horse, Show Horse, Parade Horse
Ancestors (Bloodlines) The Great Horse, Packington Blind Horse, Friesan, Flanders
PopularFor Extremely powerful, multi-talented, easily trainable
Blood Type Cold
Suitable for first-time owners Yes
Feeding/Diet General horse diet including hay, grass, grains, etc.
Time of Origin End of 16 thto beginning of 17 thcentury
Country of Origin England (UK)
Associations and Registries American Shire Horse AssociationBreed Standards

Video: Demonstrating the Shire Horse

Some scholars claim that the Shire horse’s ancestry is the British ‘Great Horse,’ which was previously used as a battle horse in the British Empire. According to some theories, this horse’s ancestors may have outcrossed with other breeds, particularly the Dutch Friesian, culminating in the birth of the new Shire breed of horse. However, when other bloodlines were introduced into the stock, the impact of the Great Horse was gradually diminished, and the Friesian blood began to take over as the dominant lineage.

The first Shires appeared in Britain in the 16th century, according to several experts, when the locals needed working equines to draw their coaches and wagons over long distances across the rugged terrains of the country, which they could not find elsewhere.

The Shire Horse Society, originally known as the English Cart Horse Society, was established in 1878 and has been in existence ever since.

The population of this breed, on the other hand, is dropping at a far quicker pace, prompting the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy to label them as “critical” in its “critical” list.

Interesting Facts

  • The Shire had previously set world records for being the largest and strongest horse on the planet
  • However, this record had been broken several times. During a 1924 display in England, two Shire Horses were able to draw a weight of around 45 tons. Known as Mammoth, the Shire called Mammoth was born in 1848 and is thought to be the world’s biggest horse, measuring 21.2 hands and weighing over 3,300 pounds (1500 kg). At the moment, the Shire Horses are only found in one functioning herd in London. As of 2016, the global population of these horses is estimated to be approximately 1500 individuals.

11 Largest Horse Breeds (with Pictures)

Around the world, there are hundreds of different horse breeds. The domestication of horses has been going on for hundreds, if not thousands of years, resulting to a great deal of variety across various breeds. There are some of these kinds that are extremely little, but there are others that are substantial. The vast majority of huge horses are draft horses. In other words, they’re bred to tow large equipment and supplies around the field. The majority of them are not riding horses since they are far too huge.

The 11 Largest Horse Breeds

Image courtesy of Alexas Fotos and Pixabay. The Shire horse is without a doubt the biggest horse in the planet. Other horses appear to be dwarfs in comparison to these creatures. They may grow to be 17 to 19 hands tall and weigh up to 2,400 pounds, depending on the species. They were carefully developed to grow huge in order to work on farms and in factories. As a result, they have grown to their current huge size. In the past, this breed was used to tow barges, pull carts, and pull heavy plows, among other things.

However, because most farms are now automated, these horses are in danger of being extinct in the near future.

Several organizations, however, are working to bring this breed back to life.

  • View Related Articles:Shire vs. Clydesdale: What’s the Difference (With Pictures)

2.Clydesdale Horse

Image courtesy of OlesyaNickolaeva/ The Shire Horse is a horse that is a little more well-known than the Welsh Horse. They are, on the other hand, a little smaller. Depending on who you ask, they stand between 16 and 18 hands tall and weigh between 1,800 and 2,000 pounds. They can, however, be very bigger. Typically, the legendary Budweiser Clydesdale horses are at least 18 hands tall and may weigh up to 2,300 pounds each. In fact, King LeGear is the tallest Clydesdale in the world, towering at a whopping 20.5 hands in height.

  • These horses are well-known for having a high level of energy.
  • They are utilized for a variety of agricultural, industrial, and forestry applications where strength is required.
  • Because of their beauty, they are frequently seen in parades and as show horses.
  • This is mostly owing to their great size, which makes it difficult to preserve them in good condition.
  • There is no record of when the Clydesdale horse first appeared on the scene.

We know they existed in the mid-18th century because there are records of them being transported into Scotland at that time period. One of their direct ancestors was a Lampits mare, while the other was a Thomson’s stallion. However, it is probable that there are other forebears.

  • Also See:Belgian Horse vs. Clydesdale: What’s the Difference

3.Percheron Horse

Image courtesy of StratoArt and Pixabay. The Percheron is another colossalhorse to be reckoned with. Its origins may be traced back to France, namely the Huisne river valley. This region was originally known as Perche, and it is from this location that the breed derives its name. The size of this horse varies significantly. They may be as tall as 15 hands and as wide as 19 hands, which represents a wide range of sizes. While they were well-known in France, nothing is known about their true history and growth.

  • This breed differs from other draft horses in that Arabian and oriental horses have had a significant effect on them.
  • Until the nineteenth century, the effect was still felt strongly.
  • It is, however, still fully capable of towing hefty cargo on its own.
  • Coaches are mostly employed in horse exhibitions, parades, and driving these days, due to the low frequency with which they are used.
  • Unlike the majority of draft horses, they are also capable of being ridden.

4.Belgian Draft Horse

It wasn’t until after World War II that the Belgian Draft began to emerge as a distinct breed. The Belgian Draft is taller and lighter than the majority of horses, yet it is also slower. Although it is not as capable of carrying a hefty burden as the other draft horses on this list, it is still regarded as a heavy horse by most standards. It is common for them to weigh roughly 2,000 pounds and stand approximately 16.5 feet tall. This kind of horse is capable of hauling huge loads because to its massive size and weight.

These horses are most commonly seen nowadays performing hard agriculture and forestry labor.

Fortunately, this is one of the few remaining draft breeds that is not on the verge of extinction.

Brooklyn Supreme was the moniker given to the most well-known Belgian Draft.

5.Suffolk Punch

Nigel Baker Photography and Shutterstock are credited with this image. This horse breed is fairly ancient and stands at a considerable height in comparison to other breeds. These horses reach between 16.1 and 17.2 hands tall, making them the tallest horses in the United Kingdom. The majority of the time, they weigh approximately 2,000 pounds, while larger horses are occasionally seen. These are still in widespread use today for forestry and agriculture labor, among other things. They also have a significant impact on the advertising business, owing mostly to their imposing physical presence.

However, we have records of the breed dating back to 1586, which indicates that it has altered little during that time period.

This is one of the most exotic horse breeds on this list, and it is also one of the rarest ones.

There are relatively few of them left in the United Kingdom today.

Crossbreeding with Belgian Drafts, on the other hand, is permitted in the United States, although it is not permitted in the United Kingdom. As a result, crossbreeding with American Suffolk Punches is prohibited by the British as well as the Americans.

6.Dutch Draft Horse

Image courtesy of navatu from Shutterstock. The Dutch Draft horse is a relatively recent breed of horse. They didn’t appear until after World War I, when Ardennes and Belgian Draft horses were frequently bred together in order to improve their performance. This resulted in the development of an entirely new breed of horse: the Dutch Draft. This breed has a substantial build. It gained popularity in Zeeland and Groningen, where it was used mostly for agricultural labor and other heavy pulling duties.

This is most certainly one of the most powerful horse breeds on the planet.

Despite this, they are significantly smaller in stature than some of the other draft animals.

Despite this, they are significantly bigger than the majority of other breeds available.

7.Australian Draught Horse

This horse breed is a mash-up of the other horse breeds on this list, and it is the largest of them. They are essentially a hybrid, combining the DNA of Clydesdales, Percherons, Shires, and Suffolk Punches into a single breed that looks like a cross between them. They didn’t become recognized as a distinct breed until 1976, when they established a studbook. As the name implies, this horse was bred specifically for the Australian market. A significant number of enormous horses were employed in order to make the horse suited for this nation.

  1. Eventually, this resulted in the creation of a new breed.
  2. Because many are unregistered, it is difficult to determine the actual number of horses that are currently in existence.
  3. It may reach a height of 16.2 to 17.2 hands and weigh between 1,300 and 1,900 pounds, depending on the model.
  4. Their strength is equal to or greater than that of some of the other horses on this list, despite their smaller stature.
  5. Many individuals have stated that they are a pleasure to possess.

8.American Cream

Featured image courtesy of Oleg Skladan/Shutterstock Currently, the American Cream Draft horse is the only type of draft horse that was developed in the United States and is still in use today. All of the other species have since become extinct. Even today, this horse is considered to be a rare breed. They are well renowned for their gold champagne hue, which is also a component of their name, which gives them their name. It is possible to achieve this hue by crossing a champagne color gene with a chestnut color gene.

The eyes of this species are generally solely amber in color.

They started with a mare named Old Granny, who had a cream hue with a good deal of energy.

Several breeders, however, sought to enhance the breed, and the breed registry was established in 1944 as a result.

The registry had been inactive for several decades when this happened. Although it was decommissioned, it was reactivated in 1982. Since then, the breed has seen steady growth, despite the fact that they are still regarded to be critically endangered.

9.Russian Heavy Draft/Ardennes

The Russian Heavy Draft is a horse breed that originated in Russia. Its origins may be traced back to Imperial Russia during the second part of the nineteenth century. After the Russian Revolution, it was called the Russian Ardennes, which means “Russian Mountains.” The “Ardennes” is a common abbreviation for the region. A number of draft breeds were being produced at the time, and this particular breed was one of them. However, it is a more mature breed in general, and it is smaller in stature than the majority of other draft breeds now in existence.

It also produces a lot of milk, which is occasionally utilized in the creation of kumis (yogurt puddings).

10.Lithuanian Heavy Draught

This draught horse was developed during the nineteenth and twentieth century. It seems fitting that they were originated in Lithuania, which is still the place where they are most commonly found now. As you would have guessed, they are most commonly employed for heavy draft work of any kind. They are, however, occasionally employed in the production of meat as well as other products. At the moment, the breed is on the verge of extinction. Approximately 20 years ago, there were just 1,000 horses remaining in the world.

The size of these dogs is not as enormous as some of the other breeds on our list, but they are still rather strong.

They have powerful, well-proportioned legs and are fairly muscular.

11.Soviet Heavy Draft

As the name implies, this horse was created in Russia during the Soviet era. It is now known as the Soviet Horse. This horse was originally derived from the Belgian Brabant and was created in the Soviet Union for hard labor and agricultural work. In 1952, it was officially classified as a distinct breed. A number of breeds, including the Russian Heavy Draft, which is sometimes mistaken with this particular horse, were produced at the same time as the Russian Heavy Draft. It is well-known that the Soviet Heavy Draft is large and has a free-moving stride.

Despite the fact that their neck is rather small, their body is big and powerful.

They are also dependable producers of milk and meat, which they are employed for in some countries as dairy and meat substitutes.

They have a reasonable rate of lactation.

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