What Makes A Shire Horse?
The Shire horse is a draught horse, with powerful and muscular build, a dense rounded body, a broad back, strong loins, powerful hind-quarters, and long legs with dense bones. The breed standard is set by the Shire Horse Society in the United Kingdom, and the American Shire Horse Association in the United States. Shire horses can be black, bay or grey. The legs should have white stockings or socks (except on grey horses). The hair down the back of the legs is called the "feather", while the hair over the feet is known as the "spats".

Shire horses average around 17.2 hands (178 cm) tall at maturity (measured at the withers), with the breed standard being at least 17 hands, although a Shire horse was recorded reaching over 21.2 hands (220 cm). The girth of a Shire horse varies from 6 feet (1.8 m) to 8 ft (2.4 m). Shire stallions weigh, on average, between 144 st (910 kg; 2,020 lb) and 176 st (1,120 kg; 2,460 lb).

The head should be long and lean, with a Roman nose and widely-spaced eyes. The breed standard specifies that the eyes should be docile in expression, and they are generally brown. The neck should be long and lean, with an arch. This leads to a short, muscular back, with no pronounced dipping or roaching.

What Can A Shire Horse be Used For?
The simple answer is anything! The early ancestors of the Shire Horse were originally used to carry knights into battle but as the years progressed, the Shire was the staple breed used to draw carts and work on the farms.

Nowadays, Shires can be seen still working for selected breweries, delivering ale from the brewery to pubs but they are also used for other equestrian activities, like driving, logging, farming and riding - some Shires even compete in dressage and jumping events!

Did you know?
The Shire horse holds the record for the world's biggest horse; Sampson, foaled in 1846 in Toddington Mills, Bedfordshire, England, stood 21.2 hands high (i.e. 7 ft 2 in or 2.20 m at his withers) by the time he was a four year old, when he was re-named Mammoth. His peak weight was estimated at over 3,300 lb (approx 1.5 long tons).

The most recent Shire to hold the record was Goliath, a dray horse for the Young & Co. brewery who held the Guinness World Record for the tallest living horse at 19.2 hh (1.98 m) until he died in July 2001.

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