This breed of horses is so nearly like the Clydesdale that it hardly merits a distinctive name. It would be less misleading if it were called English Clydesdale. Most characteristics are common to both breeds. The Shires brought to the United States are, as a rule, splendid animals. They are close-ribbed, have a trifle shorter legs, and are a shade larger than the Clydesdale. Whether these slight changes have been brought about largely by selection, or by a slight infusion of some closely allied blood, or by both, we do not know, - and it matters little whether the petty details of the methods used are ever known. It is enough to know that the Shire horse gets a grand inheritance in the main, if not entirely, from that valuable old breed, the Clydesdale. Perhaps it may be well, after all, that this off-shoot of the Clydesdale has been given another name, since it will create an honest rivalry between the breeders of these two breeds.
It is customary to use illustrations of the most perfect horses of a breed, and not infrequently the camera and the artist improve the original. The breeders of dairy cows quickly learned which end of the animal to place nearest the camera. In photographing horses, it is more undesirable to change the normal perspective; for, in foreshortening lines, symmetry of form is distorted.
Fig. 33. Dunsmore Combination (17314), Owned by Thomas Ewart, Dunsmore Home Farm, Rugby, England.
Perhaps it is well to use the very best animals for illustration since it results in producing in the mind an ideal, however difficult it may be to attain to it. On the other hand, the amateur breeder, whose expectations have become great by reason of such beautiful illustrations, is sometimes greatly disappointed when his efforts fall far short of his expectations, founded on illustrations in the books. He has his animal photographed for the purpose of placing a true picture at the head of his handbill, but he discards it for a made-up one, which the untrained eye does not detect as an impossible horse. Such breeders may succeed in producing good animals; but, falling far short of their ideals, they lose interest and go out of the business in disgust; So it may be well to warn the beginner that the top is reached only by long-continued effort. The road to the summit is steep and rough, and strewn with the bones of many commonplace horses. The horse, like other living things, is responsive to environment, and changes rapidly for the worse if the conditions of his life become less congenial, his food less plentiful, or less nourishing, and his work more difficult, than in the past. The standard of excellence attained by slow, painstaking, laborious effort during two centuries is so high that it requires a genius even to maintain it; so the young farmer should not be disappointed if he is unable to produce horses that fully meet his desires or the high standard of excellence.
The illustrations should be studied closely and the living animals as well; and not only should those of the» draft-breeds be compared, but those of the lighter breeds with those of the heavy breeds. The student of Animal Industry has become careless and unappreciative of the educational value of the fine illustrations which have become so common. The man with uneducated tastes often treats them more carelessly than he does a circus-dodger. If the farmer had no other good pictures in his house than those contained in the "Breeders' Gazette" of December 19, 1900, he would have a respectable picture gallery of our larger domestic animals. I only regret that the size of the page in this book and the conditions under which it is published do not permit of more and larger illustrations.
Fig. 35. Shire Filly, Tatton. Bessie. Kindness of Mark Lene Express, London. England.