Horses have always been a love in our family, but we had never been in a position to have one. I had always told Zach we would get horses, and he agreed. He had the pleasure of growing up on a little homestead, where he had the choice of a 4-wheeler or a horse. Thank God he chose the horse. Well the Horse chose him. Zach bought his 1st horse at 15 a Red Dun/Quarter horse, “Dunny”.
My story isn’t that kind of a fairy tale. Growing up in the city, my only horse connection was my local liberty, and few friends from church who would let me ride in exchange for stall cleaning. As much as my parents would have loved to pay for lessons, it just wasn’t in the card. So I learned as much as I could from classic riding books at the liberty. I fingered, “If I get the chance to ride, at least I will know something.” With the little riding I had, it was never on a “Lesson Horse”. Each ride taught me something more about how to ride and connect with your horse. My Mom always told me I had my Grandfather Spirit. One of the Last Offices in the US Army Cavalry, while they had horses.
We had been on the hunt for a rideable horse on a low budget. I have always LOVED Frisians, but who doesn’t. They are smart, beautiful movers, and are loyal to their owner. Problem with a good Frisian is.. The price tag.. So what ells? I had always loved riding the bigger horses, drafts are big horses. Finally get to meet with this 4yr old, saddle broke, Shire Mare, “Brave”. I was immediately drawn to her light feet and graceful movement. And she had Fire! So much Fire. Loved to work and move. Down side, she was afraid of everything. Brave and I made a connection right away. It was like I could hear what she was trying to say. For the next 6 mth she and I only did groundwork. Working up her confidence, and teaching me to hear her. We both had a lot to learn, but we did it together. I was blessed to have some wise horse people in my life to point me in the right direction. 1yr later we were Riding! 2yrs later we were cantering! 3 yrs later We had signed up for an Endurance Race of 15miles. Brave and I can over come the world together! So this started the next big thing… Shire Breeding!
And Another Horse:
Once we moved the herd to the back yard (yes, the backyard. Read “About us” for more). It was pretty clear how special the Shire breed is. Loves their family. Works more like a partner. Very concerned with family affairs. Loves to work. They are also on the “Endangered” Breed list. After a DNA Test Brave turned out to come from top Shire Breeding lines! So Zach and I decided we want to add more beautiful Shire to the world, and become Breeders.
While looking at Brave, at the same farm another shire caught Zach’s eye. “This is Angilina, she isn’t for sale.” I don’t know how but Zach and Angy made a magical connection. She was bigger than Brave, slow, and had an “Eeyore” type personality. Few years later Zach asked me to contact that family just to see if Angelina was for sale. They said no but would contact us if she does. 6mths later we got a call, and Zach was out the door with the check book. Angilina joined our herd. After we bought Angy, we got original copies of Angy’s and Braves Registration and started work on finding the top Stallion in the Country!
During the Apr of 2020, our rescue 27yr old gelding’s health was declining. Knowing my girls do better with a gelding in the herd, I began to look for a family friendly young horse that my kids could learn to ride on. Off The Track Thoroughbreds, or OTTB. Able to be used in almost every discipline, these horses have been pampered all their lives, and need new jobs and homes after their time on the track. I came across the sweet looking Chestnut Gelding that seemed like a perfect fit. Me- “Zach… we need to go look at a horse.” Zachs head falls down into his hands. “Where?” Funny he didn’t ask why. I looked down, and pulled up his picture, “New York”. Zach let out a big sigh.. “Red Zone Covid New York? How much?” …. And the rest is history Maverick came home a few weeks later and has not disappointed! His cool head, and “low speed no drag” attitude has made a perfect partner for the kids. We also found out later he is the Great Great Grandson of The Secretariat!! I tell the kids “God gave me the best racehorse, and made him slow so I could buy him.”
The Shire breed
The Shire breed was established in the mid-eighteenth century, although its origins are much older. A breed society was formed in 1876, and in 1878 the first stud-book was published.:287 In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there were large numbers of Shires, and many were exported to the United States. With the progressive mechanisation of agriculture and of transport, the need for draught horses decreased rapidly and by the 1960s numbers had fallen from a million or more to a few thousand. Numbers began to increase again from the 1970s, but the breed is still considered “at risk” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Around the time of the Second World War, increasing mechanisation and strict regulations on the purchase of livestock feed reduced the need for and ability to keep draught horses. Thousands of Shires were slaughtered and several large breeding studs closed. The breed fell to its lowest point in the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1955 fewer than 100 horses were shown at the annual British Spring Show.
A endangered Breed: At the peak of their population, Shires numbered over a million. In the 1950s and 1960s, this number declined to a few thousand. In the United States, the Shire population dropped significantly in the early part of the twentieth century, and continued to decline in the 1940s and 1950s. Between 1950 and 1959, only 25 horses were registered in the United States. However, numbers began to increase, and 121 horses were registered in the US by 1985.` Wikipedia
he origin of the Shire Horse dates back to a cold blooded heavy horse, first mentioned in around 1066 brought into England after the Norman Conquest. From this developed the “English Great Horse” of the Middle Ages often spoken of by Medieval writers.
In Medieval times it was essential to increase the size and number of horses called “The Great Horse” in order to carry knights in full armour.
Unique Characteristics of the Shire Horse
The most outstanding characteristics of the shire horse are its imposing height and extreme strength, traits documented both in record books and anecdotally. For example, in the 1920s, a pair of shires reportedly pulled a load of more than 45 tons, though the exact weight could not be determined because it exceeded the scale’s capacity.
Bred for its size, strength, and easygoing demeanor, the shire horse was used extensively to pull carts of ale from breweries to public houses. Before World War I, these gentle giants commonly served as farm horses, pulling wagons and working in fields. When coal was a major source of heat and light, shires were employed to pull enormous coal wagons over rough roads.
Today, the shire horse is still popular for pulling vehicles, such as sightseeing wagons, and many equestrians enjoy riding the docile breed for pleasure. They are an environmentally friendly alternative to tractors on small farms and are still used in logging operations. They also are a popular promotional tool for modern-day beer brewers, some of whom are again making deliveries by horse and wagon.
Today the Shire Horse is in almost every part of the Equine World From Western Pleaser, Hunter Jumping, and Dressage.
The breed also is well-known for its easygoing nature. Shires don’t spook easily. This trait likely arose from the breed’s original use confidently carrying soldiers in heavy armor into loud, dangerous battle situations.
This is the #1 Reason Shires make great family horses. They have a very caring nature and want to be apart of your family. They love to please and work hard. But most of all they love their human partners in life.