Breed Standard & Points of the Horse

shirehorseA scale of points for the breed has been carefully drawn up and this has been amended when necessary, to meet modern requirements.

For instance, years ago, a great characteristic of the Shire was the wealth of hair, or feathers, on the legs. Today the demand is for a cleaner legged horse, with straight fine, silky hair.

The standard of points laid down by the Council is as follows:


COLOUR Black, brown, bay or grey. No good stallion should be splashed with large white patches over the body. He must not be roan or chestnut.
HEIGHT 17 hands (173 cms) high at maturity. Average about 17.2 hands (178 cms).
HEAD Long and lean, neither too large or too small, with long neck in proportion to the body. Large jaw bone should be avoided.
EYES Large, well set and docile in expression. Wall eyes not acceptable.
NOSE Slightly Roman nostrils thin and wide; lips together.
EARS Long, lean, sharp and sensitive.
THROAT Clean cut and lean.
SHOULDER Deep and oblique, wide enough to support the collar.
NECK Long, slightly arched, well set on to give the horse a commanding appearance.
GIRTH The girth varies from 6 ft (183 cms) to 8 ft (244 cms) in stallions of from 16.2 (168 cms) to 18 hands (183 cms).
BACK Short, strong and muscular. Should not be dipped or roached.
LOINS Standing well up, denoting good constitution (must not be flat).
FORE-END Wide across the chest, with legs well under the body and well enveloped in muscle, or action is impeded.
HIND-QUARTERS Long and sweeping, wide and full of muscle, well let down towards the thighs.
RIBS Round, deep and well sprung, not flat.
FORELEGS Should be as straight as possible down to pastern.
HINDLEGS Hocks should be not too far back and in line with the hind-quarters with ample width broadside and narrow in front. “Puffy” and “sickle” hocks should be avoided. The leg sinews should be clean cut and hard like fine cords to touch and clear of short cannon bone.
BONE MEASUREMENT Of flatbone 11 inches (28 cms) is ample, although occasionally 12½ inches (32 cms) is recorded – flat bone is heavier and stronger than spongy bone. Hocks must be broad, deep and flat and set at the correct angle for leverage.
FEET Deep, solid and wide, with thick open walls. Coronets should be hard and sinewy with substance.
HAIR Not too much, fine straight and silky.

A good Shire Stallion should stand from 17.0 hands (173 cms) upwards, and weigh from 18 cwt (900 Kg) to 22 cwt (1100 Kg) when matured, without being overdone in condition.

He should possess a masculine head and a good crest with sloping, not upright, shoulders running well into the back, which should be short and well coupled with the loins. The tail should be well set up and not what is known as “gooserumped”.

Both head and tail should be carried erect. The ribs should be well sprung, not flat sided, with good middle which generally denotes good constitution. A Stallion should have good feet and joints; the feet should be wide and big around the top of the coronets with sufficient length in the pasterns.

When in motion, he should go with force using both knees and hocks, which latter should be kept close together, he should go straight and true before and behind.

A good Stallion should have strong character.

Modification or Variation of Stallion Standard of Points for Mares

COLOUR Black, brown, bay, grey, roan.
HEIGHT 16 hands (163 cms) upwards.
HEAD Long and lean, neither too large nor too small, long neck in proportion to the body, of feminine appearance.
EYES Large, well set and docile in expression. Wall eyes are acceptable except for animals Grade A and B register.
NECK Long and slightly arched and not of masculine appearance.
GIRTH 5 ft (152 cms) to 7 ft (214 cms) (matured) according to size and age of animal.
BACK Strong and in some instances longer than a male.
LEGS Short, with short cannons.
BONE MEASUREMENT 9 (23 cms) to 11 inches (28 cms) of flat bone, with clean cut sinews.

A Mare should be on the quality side, long and deep with free action, of a feminine and matronly appearance, standing from 16 hands (163 cms) and upwards on short legs.

She should have plenty of room to carry her foal.

Modification or Variation of Stallion Standard of Points for Geldings

COLOUR As for Mares.
HEIGHT 16.2 (168 cms) hands and upwards.
GIRTH From 6 ft (183 cms) to 7 ft 6 ins (229 cms).
BONE MEASUREMENT 10 (23 cms) to 11 inches (26 cms) under knee, slightly more underhock and broadside on, of flat hard quality.

A Gelding should be upstanding, thick, well-balanced, very active and a gay mover.

He should be full of courage and should look like and be able to do a full day’s work. Geldings weigh from 17 (850 Kgs) to 22 cwt (1100 Kgs).