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The shire

How much is a Shire?
It depends on the exemplar. Generally the draft-horse eats, in proportion, less than a normal horse. Shire has a slower metabolism and a calmer nature than many others breed of horses.
The draft-horse seems to be in better conditions with a diet less sophisticated with a feeding “not too much warm”. A good quality of hay can represent a complete base of feeding for our horses. The diet can be integrated with some grain or pellettato. Important for the horses during the growth is the integration of vitamins and minerals.

Does the Shire need particular cures?
Not for sure! They are only bigger horses. They are more sensitive to the high temperature that to the rigid temperatures (from here the term “of cold blood”). They need shade in the summer time, but they adjust easily to a new surrounding like the greater part of the horses. To hold the draft-horses in intensive stables (without a real movement or job) is limiting their characteristics also because the movement helps their digestive phase, rather long.

quadro di Enrico BerardiCan you ride a Shire?
Yes. Some Shire can become optimal saddle-horses better than many “normal” horses. Their calm nature and sure pace make them perfect for trekking.
Many Shire are particularly gifted for dressage, with light pace and great agility. You must only find the exemplar that better fits you. It is also possible to do steeple-chase, but it is necessary a lot of attention, keeping in mind that the bones and the articulations have to support a weight of approximately a ton.

What do we have to look in a healthy Shire?
A good conformation of a draft-horse must have a correct angle-shot on posterior legs, not to be confused with cow hocked. When the posterior joints are not aligned and are angled, it happens what we call cow hocks legs. A horse that answers to the Breed standards of morphology must have perfectly straight legs (as in all the others breed). Another important thing to verify is that the skeleton is well built in order to support the high weight. A horse that has an enormous body on thin legs will be destined to have problems in its life.

What is not important in judging a Shire?
Size, colour, and dappling, that for a long time have obsessed the breeders of the Shire, must be left behind morphologic criteria adapted to the features of the horse in order to be able to return to have “great horses” and not only perfect horses for “colour and dappling”.


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