Shire horse Hercules returned to Grantham this afternoon (Friday) as the star guest at a special reception organised by the town mayor.
Readers may remember Hercules’ last visit to the town was as part of the Grantham Carnival parade last year, when he was ridden through the town centre by Mayor Ian Selby.
The Shire horse’s arrival in St Peter’s Hill today was watched by a crowd of people all keen to say hello.
The reception, on the green in front of the Mayor’s Parlour, was organised ahead of the Shire Horse Society Spring Show this weekend. Tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday, the Shire Horse Society stages its second national show at Arena UK, Allington. The event is expected to attract horses from across Europe and visitors from around the globe.
The iconic breed was in danger of dying out just a few decades ago, and even now fewer than 500 new foals are registered every year by the society. The charity has been running a Save Our Shires campaign and numbers have steadily increased.
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.
Now local horse lovers are being urged to support the event, which includes a range of classes, as well as trade stands, stalls and demonstrations.
Shire Horse Society secretary David Ralley-Davies said: “The Shire Horse Society’s National Show is the perfect opportunity for members of the public to see these gentle giants of the horse world in all their glory. The breed has a unique history and heritage. The pedigree Shires will be put through their paces over two days of competition and it’s the ideal place to see them shown in style - in-hand, ridden and turned out.
“The show is quite a spectacle and we’re urging people to come along and support us in what is our annual showcase event. Their support will help us to carry on protecting and promoting a breed that was once crucial to the nation’s industrial and economic development, as well as having a vitally important role in World War One.”
The annual show, taking place indoors at its new home at Arena UK for the second time, is the flagship event for the Shire Horse Society, which is 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.
The show runs from 8am until about 10pm tomorrow, to include the championship in the evening. It will be open from 8am until 4.30pm on Sunday. Adult day tickets cost £8 in advance, with under 12s and seniors £6, and are available from https://sales.webticketmanager.com/ShireHS
Day tickets will be £10 and £8 on the gate. Free admission to Shire Horse Society members on presentation of their society badge.
For more information visit www.shire-horse.org.uk or follow the charity on Facebook or Twitter - https://www.facebook.com/shirehorsesociety and @saveourshires