shire horse

The Shire horse descends from the medieval Great Horse brought to England in 1066 by William the Conqueror. From this medieval horse came a draught horse called the Black Horse in the seventeenth century, which was dull-colored and sluggish. The Black Horse was greatly improved by the followers of Robert Bakewell, resulting in a horse commonly known as the Bakewell Black. When the Pedigree Society was founded in 1878, the name was changed to English Cart Horse, since black was a misnomer. Six years later, the name was again changed to Shire. The breed was improved during the following years as ruthless veterinary examinations virtually eliminated the old unsoundness of wind and limb. With the increased use of mechanized farm and transport equipment, the numbers of Shire horses began to decline. By the middle of the twentieth century their numbers had dwindled to a small fraction of what they had been in their heyday. Numbers of Shires are on the rise again, however. They are now widely used in breeding heavier hunter types by crosses with thoroughbred mares, and are also seen in Draught or Draft horse competition worldwide.

The Shire horse is a breed of draught horse (BrE) or draft horse (AmE). It is the tallest of the modern draught breeds, and a stallion may stand 18 hands or more (about 180 cm). Their weight is frequently in the region of a short ton.


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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Shire Horse".