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The Shire is considered by many to be the supreme draft horse. It has a wide popularity in Britain and its numbers are increasing in other areas as well. The name Shire derives from the English shires of areas such as Lincoln, Leicester, Stafford and Darby. The origin dates back to the 19th century.



Cool, Temperate



The breed descends from England’s Great Horse of the Middle Ages, later known as the English, or Old English, Black. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the stock was influenced by Flanders horses that were imported by Dutch contractors who were draining the English fenlands. Another element that added to the stock was the Friesian. They are commonly used for heavy draft.



The Shire is known for its strength. It may also be the heaviest of the draft breeds, weighing in between 2,240 and 2,688 lbs. when fully grown. Despite their size and strength, they are gentle and easily managed. They stand between 16.2 and 17.2 hands. The head is broad between its large eyes; the profile is convex and features a Roman nose. The neck is relatively thick and the shoulders are wide and deep. The overall structure showcases a thick musculature. The lower legs are heavily feathered with fine, silky hair. The coat colors include Black, Bay and Gray.


The Friesian improved the carriage and added to the freedom of action. Strength, size, and weight came by way of the Flanders Horse.

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