Horses and history at the National Shire Horse Show

Shire Horses are a huge part of our rural British heritage - from gentle giants pulling ploughs to heavy war horses, they are ingrained in our story.

Photo courtesy of Carol Stevens - taken at Shire Horse Show 2017 - large.jpg

Gentle giants

- Carol Stevens

The 2018 National Shire Horse Show will be held at Staffordshire Showground from 16th to 18th March – and is expected to feature more than 250 pedigree Shires.

Organised by the Shire Horse Society, which will be celebrating its 140th anniversary in 2018, the event is a great day out for fans of the magnificent, gentle giants of the horse world.

Plus, visitors will be able to get up close to the horses in a series of special stable tours.

They are designed to give visitors an insight into what’s involved in preparing and showing a champion Shire horse, as well as an understanding of this magnificent breed.

“The Shire horse has played an immense role in our history, but as a breed it is still regarded as an endangered species, with fewer than 300 pedigree Shire horse foals registered every year,” said Shire Horse Society secretary, Victoria Clayton.

“The stable tours will be given by Shire horse owners, breeders and enthusiasts and will focus on everything from how to look after a Shire horse to how to prepare for a show.

“It’s a great opportunity for horse and animal lovers and those who like nostalgia to find out more about this magnificent breed, and to support the work we do, as a charity, to ensure that the Shire horse has a future.”

Throughout the event, visitors can watch the iconic breed being put through its paces in-hand, ridden and in harness – with the chance to find out more about Shire horses and their role throughout history.

New for 2018 is the ridden quadrille – a choreographed ride to music which is often compared to an equestrian ballet.

“This will be the third year that we have held the National Shire Horse Show at Staffordshire Showground and we look forward to welcoming visitors and competitors to the event, which is regarded as the largest gathering of Shires anywhere in the world,” Victoria added.

Photo by Jayne Cross..stables at Shire Horse Society National Show 1.jpg

Stable tours

- Jayne Cross

“The show has been held at a limited number of venues in England over its long history, and 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.

“Next year is a special one for us as a charity because it marks our 140th anniversary, and we hope that hundreds of spectators will join us in Staffordshire to celebrate, along with our members who do such a great job of preserving this wonderful breed, which is still regarded as endangered and needs our continuing support.”

The iconic Shire 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 Shire Horse Society. The charity has been running a Save Our Shires campaign to raise awareness about these gentle giants and numbers have steadily increased, thanks to the dedication of a band of enthusiasts.

Tickets for the 2018 show have remained at 2017 prices and are on sale via the Shire Horse Society’s website

Adult tickets are £10 in advance or £12 on the gate, while tickets for children aged five to 13 years are £8 in advance or £10 on the gate and under fives enter free.

Gates open on Friday 16th March at 8.30am and at 7am on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th March.

For more details and ticket information about the show, visit or follow @saveourshires on Twitter or at

Megan is the owner of Rural Roots Media, specialising in rural tourism, where her passion for travel, heritage and a great visitor experience inspired her to start 'The Rural Travel Guide'.

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