- The Shire is the largest horse in the world and therefore needs ample room for both stabling and transportation.
- Being such a big horse, it has an appetite to match, eating more than most other breeds. As it is a cold-blooded breed, it requires a carefully balanced diet, especially regarding concentrates as they can easily make it to grow too quickly.
- What type of Shire do you prefer - broad and thick-set, tall and lean, or tall and thick- set?
- If you want a big tall horse, then buy an adult. Measure the animal yourself as it is not uncommon that an owner may exaggerate the height at the withers. A stallion that is said to be 18 hh may actually be `only´ 17.3 hh. There aren’t as many Shires over 18hh (183cm) as one might think. When it comes to foals and young horses, there isn’t any reliable way to determine the final adult height. Several factors, such as the environment, heritability, diet and care, determine how big a horse will grow.
There are many ways to estimate adult height but often it doesn’t turn out as expected. Smaller horses can produce larger offspring and a big mare can produce a little foal.
You need to find out if there is a blacksmith in your neighbourhood who knows how to shoe Shires. Hooves need careful and regular attention as they are prone to cracking. Read more about this under “hoof-link” in the menu. You should also find out if you can obtain shoes to fit your horse. They are not available everywhere.
Tack may be another problem, e.g. extra wide saddles, long girths, extra large bridles, long bits, and specially made harness. These are available, but at a price.
When you have thought this over and dealt with the problems, the next step is to visit Shire horse breeders and brokers - even abroad.
Shire horses are known to be calm and easy to handle, but each has its own individual personality and background which together form the horse´s disposition.
Get to know it and find out as much as you can about it -
- by being with it
- by handling it
- by lifting its feet
- run your hands over its legs, sinews and joints (if you´re unsure, ask an experienced person to help you)
- watch the horse´s gait and movements
- if possible, meet the horse´s `family´ and offspring. Look for likenesses; for instance, if the dam of the horse you are inspecting has a defect, check that this has not been passed on
- question the owner at length – every answer (or lack of one) can tell you something.
Making a purchase based on a photo is a risky business - you may be overlooking vital information about the horse, as the examples above can suggest. Would you buy a car just by looking at a photo? The paintwork might be first class, but the engine worn out.
We recommend that you visit several Shire breeders and view different horses, even if you´ve already decided upon a particular horse. This will give you a broader perspective and that may make the difference between a successful purchase and an embarrassing loss.
Find out -
- if the horse has been regularly vaccinated and de-wormed
- if it is registered
- if it has been shown
- if it has been ridden or been driven
- if it has foaled
- if it has had any problems or shown any defects
- if it has a complete pedigree
Of course the horse should be examined by a veterinary surgeon and insured. If you are buying a more expensive horse you could even consider having it X-rayed, which might reveal unseen faults.