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Use and characteristics of the Shire Horse
The most obvious feature of a Shire horse, is, of course, its size! The breed standard is generally 16 hands (64 inches/163cm) to 17 hands three inches (71 inches/180cm) high, though sometimes it’s possible to sell a Shire over 19 hands high. Their bodies are solid and powerful, with a broad, relatively short back and sloping shoulders. Their conformation makes them ideally suited for people planning to buy a Shire for draught work using a collar. The loins are strong and the quarters rounded and muscular. Traditionally, Shires for farm work were bred with relatively short legs and a low centre of gravity, though horses for town work tended to be taller and “leggier” as this was more suitable for drawing brewery drays and high vehicles. While black is the most frequently seen colour, often with eye-catching white feathers that flash as they move along at a proudly uplifted walk, Shires can be bay, grey or brown too. The nobility of their heads, with long, sensitive ears, and the softness of their expression makes Shires immensely appealing.