There is a considerable latitude permitted to judges in their selection of a Shire horse so far as the question of colour is concerned, but it is noticeable that during late years there has been a perceptible increase in the number of chestnuts, whilst the old-fashioned blacks have proportionately decreased. Still, if breeders were to be polled, it would probably be found that blacks, bays, and browns were the most popular shades, grays, which at one time were highly prized, being not so much liked as formerly, though why it is hard to conceive. In addition to the chestnuts, a few roans keep on appearing, in spite of there being a certain amount of prejudice against them in some quarters.
The action of the Shire horse is not by any means an attribute of the breed that can be overlooked, for, as may be readily imagined, a draught - horse that is unable to get away briskly with a load behind him is at a great disadvantage, both from the point of view of the breeder and of the employer of horse labour. The walk should therefore be a fast and even one, plenty of liberty being associated with the movements of the shoulders, whilst the hocks should be used in such a fashion as to bring the hind-feet well under the belly of the horse. Nor should the trot, although of a lesser importance, be overlooked, for an animal that can discharge his load and then get back again quickly to pick up another one is naturally of far greater value than the horse which lacks freedom and force of action. Of recent years, a very decided improvement has been noticeable in the trotting gait of the Shire horse, and his value, commercially speaking, has increased in proportion to the greater nimbleness he displays at this faster pace.
It is impossible to write of the Shire horse without reference to the Shire Horse Society, which in recent years has done so much to improve him. The noblemen and gentlemen who formed this body have succeeded, it may be conscientiously suggested, beyond their most sanguine expectations in effecting an improvement in the breed to whose interests they.