The Countess of Wessex is due to visit the world’s largest gathering of Shire horses as part of the 140th birthday celebrations of show organiser, the Shire Horse Society.
Her Royal Highness will be visiting the three-day event at Staffordshire Showground on its first day – Friday 16th March.
The Countess will be there in her role as Patron of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations (ASAO). The Shire Horse Society – the only charity that is devoted to the protection, preservation and promotion of this magnificent British breed of horse – is a member of ASAO.
Shire Horse Society secretary Victoria Clayton said: “We are thrilled that The Countess of Wessex is joining us during the first day of our three-day event, which is the world’s largest gathering of pedigree Shire horses.
“We are very much looking forward to explaining how we are working to preserve this wonderful breed of horse, which is still considered ‘at risk’ despite a resurgence in interest in Shire horses since a very low point a few decades ago when the breed was in danger of dying out. Even now, fewer than 300 pedigree Shire horse foals are born and registered every year, so it’s vital for the breed that we promote these beautiful horses.”
During the visit, Her Royal Highness will tour Bingley Hall at Staffordshire Showground – meeting some of the Shire Horse Society members who are showing their horses and a number of traders who have taken stands at the event. The Countess is also due to watch some of the horses in action in the ring and will present awards in one of the classes. In addition, Her Royal Highness is expected to meet Shire horse Cotebrook Loch Anna, a two-times national champion (in 2016 and 2017), who has been the model for a special vase that has been created by Moorcroft to mark the Shire Horse Society’s 140th birthday.
Around 250 horses from across Europe are due to attend the show to compete in a range of classes – ridden, in hand or in harness. The event is open to the public, with the chance for visitors to find out more about the gentle giants of the horse world who have played such a key role in the history of Great Britain.
This year for the first time, special stable tours will be run on Saturday 17th March and Sunday 18th March to give visitors even more of an understanding into what goes into preparing a champion horse.
The Shire Horse Society’s National 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.
This is the third year the flagship event of the Shire Horse Society has been held at Staffordshire Showground.
Tickets to the show are discounted in advance from the Shire Horse Society’s website www.shire-horse.org.uk
Gates open on Friday 16th March at 8am and at 7am on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th March.