There are four heavy draft horse breeds recognized in Great Britain: The Shire Horse, the Clydesdale, the Suffolk Punch and the Percheron.
In former times heavy horses had been used for pulling loads and as the “heart”of transportation. Tractors and lorries haven’t been invented yet, only after the Second World War, when the diesel engine was introduced into the world of farming and transportation their importance decreased suddenly and they almost disappeared.
Nowadays those horses are becoming popular again: due to their docile temperament, stamina and versatility they can be used for all sorts of equestrian activities: showing, driving, pulling logs or agricultural machinery, riding and even dressage and show jumping.
The Shire Horse
This is the tallest of the modern heavy horse breeds, their height reaches 18 hh and they can grow even taller. Their weight is about a ton. The world’s tallest horse “Sampson”, born in 1846 in Bedfordshire in England, was 21.2 hh (2.20m) at the whither and his weight was estimated for 1.5 tonnes.
The Shire horse was developed out of the medieval Great Horse, which William the Conqueror brought 1066 to the British Islands. By planned improvement of a breed called the Black horse or later the Bake well Black, the Shire horse breed was formed. The number of Shire Horses decreased considerably after the Second World War, because of a more and more motorized agriculture and haulage business. Nowadays numbers are slowly rising again, because they are used for crossbreeding and showing.