If you consider buying a Shire, especially your first one, you should first of all know what you want to do with your horse – do you want a pet, a riding, a harness horse, do you want to show or breed, or do you want to do all these things with one horse – and you should know if you are able to or have the support to take on a young or unbroken Shire Horse, or if you need a seasoned one with plenty of experience in the desired discipline/s. The reasons behind your proposed purchase of a Shire horse will determine the effort and care that you will need to put into the selection of your desired horse.
If buying with the intention to breed or show a pure bred Shire (including Grade Register mares) two things are important.
Familiarise yourself with the Breed Standard; a quality animal will closely fit the breed characteristics. While colour and markings are often considered to be the most important characteristics there are actually a range of points that should rank above these two.
Make sure your potential prospect is registered with a breed society. Shires registered with the Parent Studbook in the UK are issued with a passport that shows the sketch with all markings. UK registered Shires are not branded but must be microchipped and DNA tested, a record of which is given in the passport. If there aren’t any registration papers, and it is an adult horse, it is unlikely papers will ever be available. If it is a foal, born within the current season, it is possible that it may be registerable, and you are advised to check with the Studbook. Stallions used for breeding MUST be licensed BEFORE the start of the breeding season; if in doubt please contact the Secretary.
If the horse does have a passport or can be issued with one, then the current owner or breeder will need to complete the Ownership Disclaimer Form identifying you as the new owner/purchaser, thus enabling you to have the transfer registered with the Society.
So, when you are selecting your Shire, you will need to know the intended use of the horse and consider the temperament, the general size and body proportions, and how closely the animal fits the Breed Standard.
Examine the horse from nose to tail, and have it paraded for you to view its gait at both the walk and trot. Should your interest be in breeding, inquire concerning its reproductive history and examine the five-generation pedigree certificate to ensure the horse will be suitable. We strongly recommend having a pre-purchase inspection done by a qualified veterinary.
When all these features are considered, we believe you will find it difficult to go past the magnificent Shire horse.