The national shire horse centre is a museum and visitor attraction dedicated to the breed. The shire horse is a large British draft horse, a type of draught horse that was once used for agricultural purposes and also to tow barges on Britain’s canal system, as well as to be pulled by drays for road transport. It is an extremely tall breed of horse, and has held world records both for the highest and largest horses. Today, the breed continues to be used for farm work, and is used for showing and commercial promotion.
This centre is run by a former champion showman named Alistair King, who has a passion for preserving the breed’s heritage and history. He is also concerned about the threat of extinction for the horses, and works tirelessly to ensure that the Cotebrook Shire Stud remains the centre of excellence for the breed. The centre offers visitors the chance to learn about the history of the breed and the different breeders around the world, as well as to ride one of the magnificent animals.
In addition to the shire horses, the centre is home to other British farm animals including miniature Shetland ponies, a zebra, Aberdeen angus cattle, and a number of domesticated birds and wild birds of prey. The centre also runs special ‘Experience Days’ where visitors can learn the basics of working with a shire horse and get involved in all the activities associated with running such an operation, including cleaning out stables and feeding hay.
The centre is located at the County Showground, which is just off the A518 Stafford to Uttoxeter road about 4 miles from Stafford. The M6 motorway is easily accessible from either direction, and the nearest airport is Birmingham International (approximately 50 minutes away).
Guests can purchase tickets for the centre online or at the entrance. A family ticket is available in advance for PS40 or PS44 on the day, while admission for adults costs PS12 in advance or PS14 on the day. Children under the age of five receive complimentary admission.
There are also a variety of events and shows hosted at the centre, including parades, dressage demonstrations, parades of Shires and other breeds, a funfair, and a beer festival. The centre is also the home of a prestigious annual championship show.
The centre’s website features a blog, photographs and videos of the horses, as well as information on events and how to visit. A subscription to the magazine Horse & Hound is also available, and provides all the latest news, interviews, specials, vet and training advice.
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