How to Rear a Shire Horse

Written by kay baxter
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How to Rear a Shire Horse
Shire horses were originally bred for agricultural work or pulling heavy carts in the U.K. (Topical Press Agency/Valueline/Getty Images)

Shire horses are one of the largest horse breeds, with a mature Shire measuring an average of 17 hands and weighing approximately a ton. Because of its size it's important that, when rearing a Shire horse, its owner handles the horse daily to gain its trust. Known as the "gentle giants" of the draft breeds, Shire horses are often used for farming and pulling wagons. They're known for their pleasant personalities and ease of training.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Quality horse hay
  • Pelleted feed for young horses
  • Brushes
  • Several sizes of draft-horse halters
  • Hoof pick

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  1. 1

    Feed your Shire horse a daily diet of quality hay and pelleted feed formulated for young growing horses. Because of their size, young Shire horses should have access to hay or pasture several times each day to keep up with the demands of their growing bodies.

  2. 2

    Allow your Shire horse access to fresh, clean water at all times. A Shire horse can drink up to 5 gallons of water at a time.

  3. 3

    Deworm your Shire horse every six months if it's out in large pastures, or every 90 days if it's kept in smaller areas.

  4. 4

    Groom and brush your Shire horse's coat daily, paying particular attention to the "feathers" on its pasterns (or ankles). Young Shire horses are prone to scratches (a bacterial infection of the ankles), particularly if their feathers stay wet or dirty for even short periods of time. Call your veterinarian at the first sign of sores on your horse's ankles.

  5. 5

    Trim your Shire's hooves on a regular schedule using a certified farrier experienced in trimming and shoeing draft horses. Hooves should be trimmed at least every eight to 10 weeks, or more often if problems arise. Pick the horse's hooves out with a hoof pick several times per week to remove rocks, manure and dirt.

  6. 6

    Train your Shire horse to be comfortable with standing tied, giving to pressure, leading, bathing and trimming. By laying a good foundation when your horse is young, you'll find it much easier to work with when it's older and ready for more intensive training.

  7. 7

    Check fencing and stalls daily for any damage. Because of their size, even young Shire horses can cause damage to fences and stalls by leaning on them. Its stall should be large enough that your Shire horse can comfortably lie down and turn around while standing.

Tips and warnings

  • Consult with your veterinarian on the correct deworming-paste rotation for your particular area.
  • If you run into issues handling your Shire horse, pay a trainer experienced in training draft/Shire horses to help you.

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