They are magnificent in appearance; majestic in movement; mild mannered in temperament. They are the Shire horses, the tallest and heaviest breed of horse in the world and one of the rarest horses in Australia, with the breed listed as, at risk by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust 2016. The last quarter-century has seen a regeneration of these grand horses with numbers slowly on the rise again with about 20 foals born each year.
The terms ‘War Horse’ or ‘Great Horse’ come to mind when speaking of the history of the Shire, since it is believed by many to be the breed that carried knights into battle before being put to work in harness pulling carts in the 16th century for ploughing on farms. With immense power in its frame, the Shire is able to move weights which would surprise those unfamiliar with the breed.
Shire horses are the World’s tallest breed of horse, standing from 16.2 hands to over 18 hands with the average size of 17.2 hands to 18 hands. They are very gentle and docile for their size whilst being very agile and able to cover the ground with great speed when in full gallop. The modern Shire has all the qualities desired in a draught horse, stamina, strength, constitution and adaptability with these horses becoming more popular in ridden and dressage classes around the world with Shire cross thoroughbreds in great demand for hunting/jumping and good all round sport horses.