Wadworth Continue Long-Established Tradition With Arrival Of New Shire Horse
One of the last remaining breweries still using working Shire horses and drays to make deliveries, Wiltshire-based brewer Wadworth have committed to the continuation of a long-established tradition with the arrival of 3 year old Shire ‘Archie’.
In their heyday, before the arrival of the internal combustion engine, more than 40 Shires were used by the family-owned brewery to deliver their famous ales to local inns and hostelries.
And although a far cry from those tranquil, golden days, the sight of the Wadworth Shires remains a familiar and much loved part of the local scene in Devizes.
“The shires are a big part of Wadworth’s history and are the heart of our business’’ says Wadworth Sales and Marketing Director Paul Sullivan. ‘’We are determined to continue the brewery tradition of working with these wonderful animals, and Archie is the latest in an illustrious line.”
Still very much in training it’s hoped that Archie, who currently stands at 18.1 hands (and still growing!) will make the grade to become a fully-fledged working Wadworth Shire next year – joining Wadworth veterans Max (age 12) and Monty (11).
‘’Archie is currently being what we call ‘schooled and broken in’‘’ explains Wadworth Head Horseman Martin Whittle. ‘’His training will be a lengthy process – but one that is necessary to ensure he is fully prepared for work. Archie must get used to everything from wearing a harness, to pulling the dray, and also working alongside his colleagues Max and Monty.’’
‘’The role of a Wadworth working Shire isn’t for every horse – and not all make the grade’’ says Martin. ‘’but early indications are that Archie has settled in really well. He’s very friendly and loves meeting the visitors that come to the yard.’’
And with the Shires’ working day starting as early as 6am Archie will certainly be busy…
‘’Typically Monday-Friday the Shires are mucked out and groomed from around 6am to 8am’’ Martin explains. ‘’After being harnessed up ready for 9am, the work drays are loaded up at the brewery warehouse before the Shires set off into Devizes to make their morning deliveries. They are then exercised before returning to the stable yard at 12 noon.’’
‘’After lunch the stables are opened up to the public (from 1.30-3pm) where they have the opportunity to meet the horses. They absolutely love all the fuss and attention!’’
And of course although essentially working horses, the Wadworth Shires make promotional visits to many of the pubs in the Wadworth estate, as well as taking part in Heavy Horse Shows and other public events throughout the summer months – winning many prizes for their immaculate turnout, grooming and show discipline.
But it isn’t all work and no play. Archie will join Max and Monty on their annual summer break from 7th August, when for two weeks the Shires kick up their heels and enjoy their freedom at their ‘holiday home’ near The Raven pub in Poulshot, near Devizes.
Hundreds gather to watch them enjoy a customary pint of beer before they are led through the village and released into the field to canter to their hearts content!
For more information on the history of the Wadworth Shire horses visit www.wadworth.co.uk.