More than 5,000 visitors attended the Shire Horse Society’s National Show – the largest gathering of Shires in the world - at Arena UK in Allington this weekend.
With almost 300 entries from across the UK and Europe, the event was held over two days. The event is believed to be one of the oldest, almost continuous, horse shows in the world, having been held for the first time at the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington, London, in 1880, when the charity was named the English Cart Horse Society.
The show is the flagship event of the Shire Horse Society, the only charity dedicated to the protection, promotion and improvement of the Shire horse. Since 1878 the organisation has been working to protect the breed, which was then known as the Old English Breed of Cart Horse.
The Shire is recognised as an at risk breed under the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
The King George V Champion Challenge Cup for the best stallion in the show was awarded to Schumann’s Eregon, owned by Mr Volker Schumann from Hattingen, Germany. It was the first time that a German stallion had taken the top spot.
Woodhouse Calendar Girl, shown by Mr Martin Fountain, from Ashbourne, Derbyshire, was awarded The Henry Young Perpetual Memorial Cup as champion mare in show.
Shire Horse Society secretary David Ralley-Davies said he was delighted that so many members of the public had turned out to see the horses being shown in the ring and to support the charity at its showcase event.
Mr Ralley-Davies said: “At one point, the Shire horse breed faced an uncertain future, but thanks to a dedicated band of enthusiasts their numbers have steadily increased and they are now experiencing a resurgence in popularity. However, there are still fewer than 500 new foals registered every year so it’s very important to continue the charity’s work of protecting and promoting the breed to ensure that we can enjoy these wonderful gentle giants for generations to come.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to all those who came from far and wide to compete at the event, and also to all the visitors who supported both the charity and the competitors who work so hard showing their Shires. Thanks also are due to all the volunteers, stewards and judges who helped deliver such as successful event.
“Shire horses have a unique history and heritage and our national show plays a key role in highlighting their past and in promoting their future, so we are delighted that so many people joined us for the two-day event.”
The evening performance on Saturday was opened by Household Cavalry drum horse Major Drummer Mercury.
As well as the show classes, with horses shown in-hand, ridden and in harness, the event also featured a range of trade and other stands, as well as a food hall. For the first year the Shire Horse Society welcomed as a partner the Lazy Jacks clothing company, which provided brand new society merchandise.
For more information about the Shire Horse Society visit www.shire-horse.org.uk or follow the charity on Facebook or Twitter – https://www.facebook.com/shirehorsesociety and @saveourshires