The world’s largest gathering of Shire horses will move to a new venue for 2016, it has been announced.
Next year the Shire Horse Society National Show will be held at Bingley Hall in the centre of Staffordshire County Showground.
The move is being made to cater for increasing visitor numbers to the show, who are keen to support the iconic breed which a few decades ago was in danger of dying out.
The National Show, which will be staged on 18th, 19th and 20th March 2016, is expected to attract more than 200 horses from across Europe, as well as visitors from around the globe, and is billed as the largest gathering of Shires seen anywhere in the world.
Shire Horse Society secretary David Ralley-Davies said: “Our National Show has been steadily gaining in popularity again recently and we wanted to ensure that everyone who wants to go gets the chance to attend, hence the decision to move to a bigger and more central venue for 2016.
“Bingley Hall will also provide additional facilities for exhibitors and their horses, such as indoor stabling for the majority of horses being shown. We’re very excited to announce our new indoor venue, and are looking forward to welcoming many new visitors, as well as our loyal followers and our members, to the showground next year.”
The Shire Horse Society, which is based at Rockingham Castle on the Leicestershire/Northamptonshire border, has signed a five-year deal to stage its National Show at Bingley Hall – starting in 2016.
The show, which has been held at a limited number of venues in England over its long history, 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.
It is the flagship event for the Shire Horse Society, which is the only charity dedicated to the protection, promotion and improvement of the Shire horse. Since 1878 the organisation has been working to protect the breed.
“The Shire Horse Society’s National Show is quite a spectacle, and the ideal opportunity for members of the public to see these gentle giants of the horse world in all their glory,” said David Ralley-Davies. “It also gives us the chance to raise awareness of a breed that has a unique and fascinating history and heritage.
“At the same time, it provides us with the opportunity to promote the efforts that are being made to safeguard the breed’s future. We have been running a Save Our Shires campaign to raise awareness about Shires and numbers have steadily increased, thanks to the dedication of a band of enthusiasts, but fewer than 500 new foals are registered every year by the Shire Horse Society, and Shire horses remain an endangered species.”
The show will include a new Friday evening ridden performance, along with a ringside show dinner, which will be followed by two days of competition and classes.
It will be the first qualifier of 2016 for the Horse of the Year Show and will feature a range of classes, with horses shown in-hand, ridden and in harness.