Much of the history of the Shire horse is a mystery, but its lineage is believed to have begun with England's "Great Horse," bred with height and strength to carry upwards of 400 pounds in war. Later, the Shire's role in society changed, like many draft horses, to farming and carriage driving. As cross-breeding enhanced many of the breed's physical characteristics, its name endured several changes as well: the Black Horse, the Bakewell Black, and English Cart Horse. The latter was accepted by the pedigree society, established in 1878, black was considered a misnomer. The breed's name was changed finally to "Shire" in 1884, and the pedigree society became known as the Shire Horse Society. Since then, the Shire has been used to improve the bloodlines of many other draft breeds. The American Shire Horse Association was established in 1885 to promote the breed in the United States. Considered to be the tallest of all draft breeds, the Shire can measure up to18 hands 6 ft. or taller. Weighing in at around 2,000 pounds, it's a popular horse for pulling and plowing competitions. The Shire's coat colors range from black to brown, bay or gray and the long, white hair that grows at the base of the legs, known as feathers, is a common feature in many draft breeds.
Recommended age: 8 and Up