Gentle Giants

Profile Shire Horse:

Breed: Shire Horse
Group: Coldblood
Height: 160 – 205 cm
Features: muscular and massive body, abundant fawning, long and dense coat, often white markings on the blaze and legs, ram head, strong neck
Coat colour:  brown, centime, rarely mold, foxes undesirable
Character:  gentle, with strong nerves, people-oriented, uncomplicated and capable of learning
Pace:  tactful, sure-footed, swinging
Origin:  Great Britain
Spread:  worldwide
Suitable for:  show and leisure horse, draught and carriage horse


Gentle Giants

In their homeland England, Shire Horses, the largest horses in the world, are also affectionately called Gentle Giants – gentle giants. In contrast to their imposing appearance, they show themselves from a very gentle side. They are characterised by a very balanced character, a high degree of reliability as well as a close relationship to their caregiver. Horses of this cold-blooded breed are difficult to get out of their rest and are especially appreciated by their riders for their good-natured and calm nature. However, one should not be deceived by the somewhat ponderous appearance of these animals. In contrast to many other cold-blooded animals, they have a lively temperament and are also extremely eager to learn. These special characteristics make the horses very versatile.

The beautiful cold-blooded horses are not only remembered for their extraordinary character, but especially for their imposing appearance. Shire Horses reach a stick size of up to 2.05 meters and a weight of about 800 to even 1000 kg. This makes the cold-blooded horses not only larger but also heavier than most other horses. A stable body with a strong back and muscular hindquarters and forehand characterize the stature of these strong four-legged horses. Typical for this horse breed are not only their enormous size and mass, also the dense long hair immediately catches the eye. Shire Horses are available in both brown and black. White horses are rather rare, foxes even undesirable. Remarkable is the luxuriant pooch coat as well as the flowing mane and the floor-length tail. Most animals usually show white markings on the blaze and legs. Especially the latter often makes the horses look as if they were wearing white boots. A slender ram head, a slightly bent neck and beautiful dark eyes make the horses look graceful and elegant.

Strong all-rounders

Nowadays the heavy cold-blooded horses are very popular and astonish horse lovers all over the world as carriage, riding or representation horses. In their homeland they already served knights as robust riding horses in the 11th century. They managed to carry the heavy armour of the riders over long distances without any difficulty and intimidated enemies with their appearance alone. So at that time the breeding of horses as large and heavy as possible was aimed at. Later on, the war horse became a transport and work horse that was mainly used in agriculture. With an enormous pulling power, the horses were also popular in front of the carriage or plough. The population of the breed, however, declined sharply when numerous cold-blooded horses were exported to Scotland for breeding the Clydesdales. The population was stabilized by the foundation of the Shire Horse Society as a breeding association in 1878, but the advancing technological development caused the demand for Shire Horses to drop rapidly. It is thanks to the commitment of a few English breeders and breweries that the stock of cold-blooded horses has recovered. Today the animals are still used as carriage or draught horses. Also as leisure and show horses they are more in demand than ever. That their movements can be very elegant and swinging despite their size, they have already proven in many demanding dressage performances.

Horse Facts

Did you know? The greatest representative of this breed so far was the gelding Sampson. He reached a stick size of no less than 2.19 metres and a weight of around 1500 kg! With this he was a credit to the largest horse breed in the world.