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The Wadworth Shires

A tradition at Wadworth – and our gentle giants are as much a part of the Wadworth heritage as the closely guarded real ale recipes!

Monty, Max and Archie

Monty, Max and Archie are the latest in a long line of Shire horses which, apart from a brief interruption, have served Wadworth for over 125 years.

In their heyday, before the arrival of the internal combustion engine, more than 40 Shires were used by the Brewery to deliver their already famous beers to local inns and hostelries. Ponies and traps were used by the Brewery's representatives to call on customers.

Although it is a far cry from those tranquil, golden days, the sight of the Wadworth Shires are a familiar and much loved part of the local scene. Being three of the very few needs remaining 'working' Shires in the brewing industry in Britain, they deliver our beers, wines and spirits on weekdays (weather permitting) to our pubs and Free Trade customers within a two mile radius of the Brewery. Working as a pair; they are able to transport a load of approximately two tons.

Harness and drays were made to specification - the handmade collars are specific to each horse, but their harness is fully adjustable. We have five drays - two for everyday work and three that are used solely for shows and public relations events, one of which is a 1903 model that has been beautifully restored, and a modern dray which can be used with a single horse.

When travelling outside of the Devizes area, and throughout our estate, the Shires are transported in a large articulated trailer, which can take a dray, the horses and all their harness, plus has living and sleeping accommodation for the horsemen when overnight stays are required. 

Although they are essentially working horses, they also make promotional visits to many of our pubs and take part in county shows and other public events throughout the summer months, winning many prizes for their immaculate turnout, grooming and show discipline.

The dedication of our Head Horseman Martin Whittle and Horseman Callum Whittle, who care for these gentle giants, is a major factor in their success. 

Did you know... 

Each horse weighs about 20cwts (or almost one ton!). They each have 6 feeds a day, consisting of chopped hay, bran, mollasses and conditioning mix, plus a haynet. 

A set of shoes lasts about four weeks, and a mobile farrier visits regularly to hot shoe them with a mobile forge.

As a reward for all their hard work during the year, the Shires have an annual holiday (usually at the beginning of August) when they are put out to grass for two weeks, where they get the chance to rest their legs for two weeks and relax, get fit for another year of service. 

For further information please contact the Visitors Centre.