The Shire and Drum Horse Breeds
The Shire is one of the largest horses in the world. The breed originated in England and is a descendant of the “Great Horses” of medieval times – mostly for jousting. The large horse, often standing 19h high, was generally used to carry the Queen’s army. Armored soldiers often weighed over 400 lbs. Both the Dutch Friesian and Flanders horses played an important role in the development of the English Shire – or English Black.
Large numbers of Flanders Horses were imported by Dutch contractors in the first half of the 17th century, when work began on draining the Fens in eastern England. When the work had finished, these horses remained and were bred in the area. At this time references to the Great Horse ceased, and the English draft became known as the English Black.
The Shire horse was a very useful animal during the 1800’s, moving cargo from the English shipping docks throughout the streets of the major cities. Because of their massive build and strength, the demand for Shires was high for many decades. During the early 1900’s, the Shire export business to the United States was in full swing, however, it declined sharply after World War II as the need for horse power in industry and agriculture diminished.
In recent time, there has been a renewed interest in the breed – for show and for work in various parts of the country. The Shire was made popular by the breweries and has become a favorite at many horse shows.
See also American Shire Horse Association (ASHA)
The Drum Horse
The Drum Horse has captured the imagination with his stunning good looks and stately air. Often seen as a larger version of the Gypsy Cob, the Drum Horse stands at least 16hh and utilizes the bloodlines of the Clydesdale, Shire and Gypsy Cob. It is a heavy horse, pinto colored with lovely feather and exceptional disposition. Developed as a heavy riding horse, the Drum Horse is suited for low level dressage, eventing, hunting, saddle seat, trail, pleasure and, of course, makes an excellent driving horse.
The Drum Horse is a combination of any of the following breeds: Shire, Clydesdale, and Gypsy Horse, where no single breed listed above exceeds 87% (7/8) of the total make-up and the percentage of Gypsy Horse blood does not fall below 12.5% (1/8).
Drum horses are used by the British Regimental Cavalry for parades, ceremonies of state and royal processions, to carry the drummer along with 2 solid silver kettle drums – weight often totals more than 350 lbs. Drum horses are controlled only by the feet of the drummer during parades and events, so they have to be incredibly well mannered and very even tempered. They are horses of exceptional disposition.
See also Drum Horse Association (ADHA)