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Diamond Z English Shire Horses


The Shire horse, developed in England, traces its history back to the days of the Roman Conquest and is one of the oldest of the draft breeds. The name "Shire" also comes from England, derived from the Saxon word "schyran," which means to shear or divide. The name "Shire," means “county.” King Henry VIII first applied the name "Shire" to the horse early in the 16th century. 

The Shire horse breed began over 1,000 years ago and includes blood from Belgians, Horses of Flanders and in the 18th Century, Friesians. Like the other standard draft breeds, the Shire was improved by the infusion of outside blood at various times in history. Records exist, dating back nearly 1000 years. During this time outside blood continued to influence the breed since a breed registry did not hamper breeders and no limits were imposed.

The Shire horse was the warhorse of England, used by knights in the middle ages. The Shire horse is the purest survivor of an early type that was spoken of as “The Great Horse.” A large, athletic, powerful horse with plenty of stamina was needed to carry the weight of mounted soldiers wearing their heavy battle armor. These horses’ riders could weigh in excess of 400 pounds. 

For the past centuries, Shire horses have delivered beer daily in the City Streets of London and performed agricultural tasks on farms throughout the English countryside. They are gentle giants, docile and kind, and have a strong desire to form a bond with the people who handle them. They easily weigh 1800 to 2,000 pounds or more and some stand well over 18 hands. (A “hand” is four inches, the span of a man’s hand, and is measured from the highest point on the horse’s withers, the top of its shoulders, to the ground. That computes to an 18.2 hand high horse will be 6 feet, 2 inches tall at the withers).

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