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This is the most famous of heavy horses, popular all over the world.

Placid and immensely strong, the Shire can pull weights of up to five tonnes.

Whatever the body colour, all Shire horses have white lower limbs and feet.

Shires can be black, brown, bay and grey as their common colours, but can be any colour.

They are distinguished by their white feathers on their legs, called feathering.

Known for its strength, the Shire is one of the heaviest draught breeds.

This gentle horse is easy to handle, despite its size.

It has traditionally been used by brewers to pull wagons loaded with heavy barrels of beer.

It is now most often seen in shows and ploughing competitions.

Their height is about 17.2 hands.

Their origin is Midlands, England.


When Dutch people were moving over to England in the 11th century, they brought their Great Horses with them.

This was when knights wore loads of armour to battle.

The horses they already had were to small the carry the knights.

Great Horses were then well known war horses.

After some time, the knights did not wear heavy armour.

This did not mean people did not need the Great Horse.

These horses were used for farming.

These horses became well known through England, and bred to descendants of the Great Horse.

The offspring became the Black Horse.

The Black Horse got it's name changed soon, it then became the English Cart Horse.

Finally, in the late 1800's, the breed's name got changed to Shire.

After years, the Shire was in the United States.

They were successful until the Industrial Revolution.

Then technology took things over.

In the 1960's, the Shire dropped from over a million to a few thousand.

But there were people who bred Shires, and the Shires are popular riding horses today.


Shires can be bay, grey, brown, and black.

Covering their hooves is white feathering.


  • The Shire is the most popular draft horse in the United Kingdom.
  • The name "Shire" comes from the Saxon word "schyran".

This means to divide, which is also how the word county got started.

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