Shire Horse

Is the Shire Horse the Right Breed for You?
  • Suitable for Novice Owners: As a cold-blooded equine, like their European ancestors, they have a gentle disposition and tend to be larger than their hot-blooded and warm-blooded peers. Their easygoing demeanor makes them great for children. Typically they are meant to perform heavy work and are not suitable for sports besides hauling or pulling competitions at farm shows.
  • Generally Healthy: This breed is perceived as a generally healthy breed. With no known breed-specific health issues, owners just have to ensure their horse maintains a healthy lifestyle with regular veterinary checkups.
  • Best for General Riding and Work: The Shire Horse is commonly used for General Riding and Work. Other tasks this breed is involved in include farming.

The Shire is the most popular draft horse in the United Kingdom. The Shire made its first appearance on British soil in its original form of the Great Horse, which was brought by William the Conqueror in 1066. In the early 17th century, Dutch contractors, who were helping drain the fens in the east of England, brought with them their native horses, the Friesian and the Flemish Horse. These horses remained in the area and were bred to the descendants of the Great Horse. This resulting breed was called the Black Horse, and later the English Cart Horse. The name was changed in the late 1800s to the Shire,Shire possibly in honor of its development in the Fen country of Lincolnshire, and its use in the counties of Leicestershire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Today, the horse is used to pull drays (carts) for pub deliveries and in parades.


The Shire is the largest draft horse, standing up to 19 hands high and weighing a ton. Its colors include black, brown, grey and bay with white feathers on the legs.

Common Use

Click on an icon below to see all horse breeds that share the same activity commonly performed by the Shire Horse.