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Shire horses' Competition in Minehead

Shire horses compete and farmers compare furrows

News 1978 1 mins Silent

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A duo of shire horses plough a field in the traditional manner. Shire horses have tirelessly served man for centuries, in battle, on the land and in transporting goods. The term Shire horse was first used in the 17th Century and they are bred to be large and strong. Primarily they are used as cart horses moving goods from the docks into the countryside and traditionally for delivering ale to public houses. 

In 1878 the British organisation the Shire Horse Society was founded originally as the English Cart Horse Society. Shire horses were exported to the USA but due to WWII and the increase in mechanisation the need to draft horses fell and the 1950s and 1960s saw the lowest numbers of shire horses in both the UK and US. The Shire horse has won many awards for being both the largest and tallest breed. They normally stand at 17 hands in height but in 1848 a shire horse named Mammoth stood at 21.2 hands.