Christmas Charity Focus: The Shire Horse Society

It's that time (the most wonderful!) of year again when we get to launch our fabulous Christmas Card collection. As usual, here at Whistlefish we have chosen some very worthy causes to support with a donation arising from the sales of our festive selection. We wanted to spend some time getting to know each of these charities, what they do and how you can support them. Today we are learning more about The Shire Horse Society....

What Do The Shire Horse Society Do?

The Shire Horse Society has been responsible for over 100 years for the promotion of the Shire horse and the maintenance of the Stud Book.

In more recent years the conservation and development of the breed, part of our national heritage, has become a great priority.

The Society actively encourages the breeding and use of Shire horses throughout the country. 

History of the Shire Horse

The Shire Horse as a breed has had a fascinating history, and its development had been inextricably linked the development of the Society we know today.

Because Shire Horses are so calm and placid, we do not think that they would be good in wars. However, it is because of war that the Shire horse came into being.

Native British horses were quite small and light, like the ponies you can still see in wild in places like the New Forest, Dartmoor and Exmoor. When knights started wearing heavy suits of armour the horses were unable to carry them.

Eventually warfare changed and soldiers no longer wore heavy suits of armour, but this did not mean that the Great Horse was no longer needed. It was soon recognised that their great strength and placid nature would make them useful on the farm and for pulling heavy loads.

They soon took over the jobs previously done by oxen on farms, such as ploughing. Horses were faster and more intelligent than oxen and could also work in forestry.

The Industrial Revolution saw the construction of a nationwide system of canals which enabled heavy loads to be transported long distances. The Shire was the ideal horse to use, towing the barges along the canals. They were also used to haul large wagons, drays, omnibuses and trams.

Soon however, technology developed and the need for the horse declined. The first blow was the rise of the railway, meaning less goods were transported by barge. Then came the tractor, replacing horses on farms. Finally more and more road vehicles were powered by engines and the Shire horse’s days soon seemed numbered.

Shire horse numbers fell from well over a million to just a few thousand by the 1960s and the breed was in serious trouble. A small group of dedicated breeders came to rescue though and the Shire is seeing a resurgence in popularity both as a working animal and a riding horse.

Save Our Shires

Shire Horses, for all of their dignity, grace and majesty, are a breed under threat. For centuries this loyal horse has served man, fearlessly taking him into war, tirelessly working the land, and transporting him and his goods the length and breadth of this country.

In 2012 the Society introduced its ‘Save our Shires’ campaign. Designed to raise awareness and increase public activity the Society has created its own brand easily recognisable and proving very popular. By joining the Society, making a donation or a purchase you will be helping the Society invest in the future of the breed. They can then continue our work in maintaining high breed standards and registering horses.

There are many ways that you can help the Shire Horse Society...

Text Donate 

Any person wishing to donate to the Shire Horse Society can now simply text the word “SHIRE” to 70800 from a mobile telephone and £3 is added to their ‘phone bill.  This money will then be used on future Society preservation initiatives.

Leaving a Legacy

By leaving a legacy to the Shire Horse Society you will be helping them to protect and preserve this majestic breed well into the future. For more information you can contact the Shire Horse Society on 01536 771611

In Memoriam

Many people choose to remember a loved one by asking for donations as an alternative to sending flowers to a funeral. Alternatively you can leave a gift in memory of a loved one, knowing that their memory will allow the Shire Horse breed to thrive.

For more information on ways of donating in memory of a loved one, please call 01536 771611.

2020 National Shire Horse Show | 20th - 22nd March 2020

Bingley Hall, Staffordshire County Showground, Weston Road, Stafford ST18 0BD

The world’s largest gathering of Shire horses takes place in March each year for a celebration of the breed’s unique history and heritage.

Enthusiasts will travel from across Europe to show their horses, with spectators expected to come from all over the world.

The Pedigree Shire horses will be put through their paces over three days of competition- giving horse lovers a unique insight into the gentle giants of the horse world. The National Show is the opportunity to find out more about Shire Horses, see them shown in style- in-hand, ridden and turned out- to support the work of the Shire Horse Society.

The prestigious King George V cup will be awarded to the most impressive stallion on Saturday and a host of other trophies will be handed out over the weekend.