Shire horses were introduced in 1145. They were used to pull plows like oxen. Then during the reign of Henry VIII, Shire horses were used in battle as war horses. The introduction of gunpowder removed horses from the field of battle.
Shires were first called Old English Black Horses. The name ‘Shire’ was introduced in the mid 17th century. In 1878 the Old English Black Horse Society was formed, but it was renamed the Shire Horse Society in 1884. When WWII came the Shire horse was slaughtered in great numbers for food. Less then 100 of them were still alive. Then, in the 1970’s people became more interested in the Shire then ever, and their numbers have grown to 2,000 which still makes the breed ‘at risk.’
Shire horses range from black to grey to brown. They can also be roan or bay. Stallions must stand at least 17 or 17.2 hands (4 inches to a hand) tall, and mares and geldings 16 hands. Shires have short muscular backs and broad hooves. Unlike other draft breeds, they have less ‘feathering’ around the hooves.
Find out more info about the Shire horse here.