I am in love. They are beautiful, gentle, giants of horses. I am a rancher’s daughter, and spent my summers in a two bedroom ranch house with a horse pasture behind the house and corrals in front of it. I was around horses all the time, but I was never enamored of them. Sure, I was fond of old Cedar, the pack horse who was patient enough to allow five children to climb on his back at once.
He was a sweetheart, but he wasn’t a sweet ride. If you kicked and prodded you might get him to walk away from the corrals. But if you wanted him to trot (which wasn’t really all that comfortable) or even break into a thrilling lope, you had to turn his head toward home.
To me horses were like the tractor and the hay bailer. Useful, interesting up to a point, but way too much work, and way to complicated for me. Besides, grandpa was of the old school and women folk, even the little ones, didn’t rightly belong in the fields.
I did however, like the draft horses. They are huge, and sweet tempered, and strong. Kind of like my father, come to think on it.
So I didn’t say “no” to the chance to see the English Shire Hitch horses and do a story on them.
They are beautiful animals. The “baby” Hercules, at 15 months is 17 hands high. He was adorable; if something big enough to pull a refrigerator out of quick sand can be called adorable. “Stan” a direct English import, was a little sassy, Bud was patient, but Arnie (short for Arnold) was a pro at handling the crowd and his fellow horses. He crowded Bud into a corner so he could get more than his share of the lovin’ and he had the bearing of a star.
I’m not convinced I would buy an English Shire Hitch if I could afford the “in the high $20,000s” price tag and daily intake of 40 pounds of hay and 15 pounds of feed. But if I were going to buy any horse, the English Shire Hitch would be on the top of my list.