The working horse has been a part of farming life for many centuries. Originally oxen were used, but by the 18th Century Shire horses were a common site in rural Britain.
The Shire horses were used on the traditional working farms to plough and drill the fields. Varied equipment was made for the heavy horses to help prepare the land to ensure a good crop using muck spreaders, drilling machines and harrowing chains as well as other equipment.
When the time came for the hay harvest, the Shire horses would be found cutting the grass, tedding the hay and then pulling the huge wagons of hay ready for storage.
Shire horses were not just in the fields, they were also found in the cities where their vast size and strength meant they were used for pulling canal and barge boats, trams for public transport and other haulage such as coal and furniture removal.
In the 1920’s, after WW1, the rise of the motor vehicle caused the decline in the use of Shire horses. By 1960 the breed was in serious trouble as the breed fell from over one million to just a few thousand.
Thanks to a dedicated group of breeders and Shire horse enthusiasts, the breed numbers are slowly starting to rise again.
Today Shire horses can be seen publicly at promotional events or country shows, but can also be found in small working farms throughout the British countryside where they actively work the land in a more traditional and environmentally sensitive style.
Coldcroft Shires offers visitors the chance to meet these beautiful working horses, learn all about their history and get up close to them. We offer bespoke packages which can include long reining and working the horses on the land or a Shire horse carriage ride where you can enjoy the local countryside and spectacular views of both the Cotswolds and the Malvern Hills travelling in comfort with two Shire horses hitched up.