After quite a number of importations of Shire Horses from the UK in early Australian history, registered Shire Horses sadly died out here in the 1920’s. However, in 1978, Shire enthusiast, Graham West, started the Shire Horse Society Australia, in the hope that the breed would be re-introduced into the country. He also worked to set up a registry of Shire type horses that could be the foundation for the reintroduction of the Shire into Australia. The Society was supported in writing by the author of the definitive history of the Shire Breed, Keith Chivers, who wrote the encyclopedic book ‘The Shire Horse’, published in 1976.
Then in 1981, Helene Scarf, of The Cedars Stud, imported the first registered Shire, Ladbrook Edward, back into Australia. Soon after that, Graham West asked Helene to become the custodian of the Shire Horse Society Australia, which she did, and in 1986 she registered the name.
Helene and Gregory Scarf imported more Shires during the 1980’s, and so did Mike and Barbie Chandler. Helene then proceeded to lobby the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales (RAS NSW) for them to introduce Shire Classes at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. As a result of her lobbying, Shire classes were reintroduced at Sydney Royal in 1991.
By 1997 there were enough Shire exhibitors showing Shires at Sydney Royal for Helene to convene a meeting in 1998 (click here to see minutes) for those exhibitors who were interested. The group met at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, in an aisle in the pavilion after the Shire classes finished. The group would meet at the Sydney Royal Easter Show each year from then on till 2016.
The group always considered Sydney Royal as the premiere Shire show in Australia and its primary aim was to lobby the RAS NSW on behalf of Shire exhibitors on show issues. Helen Kuiper was elected Secretary of the group and she named the group Shire Breeders Australia.
Shire Breeders Australia, and Helen Kuiper as Secretary, were given recognition later that same year, in 1998, by the Shire Horse Society UK (SHS UK) (click here to see letter) and the RAS NSW (click to see letter), as the contact point at that time for Shire Horse owners in Australia. Shire Breeders Australia newsletters were produced from that time on (click to see an early newsletter).
In 2010, Helen Kuiper made enquiries made enquiries to the SHS UK as to the full and proper name of the breed, which turned out to be ‘Shire Horse’, and from then on she called the group Shire Horse Breeders Australia. Sandra Shoobridge later became Secretary and then Kathryn McKay. Helene Scarf was elected Publicity Officer.
The main achievements of Shire Breeders Australia include:
Successfully lobbied the RAS NSW for the introduction of a Shire Gelding Class (click to see letter) at Sydney Royal for 2009.
Successfully lobbied the SHS UK to subsidise, for Shire breeders, the cost of DNA testing (click to see letter) Australian Shire horses which were already in the stud book, when compulsory DNA testing was introduced in 2011.
Successfully lobbied the RAS NSW for the introduction of a Ridden Shire Class at Sydney for 2010.
Nominated judges for the Shire classes at Sydney Royal
Helen and Gregory Scarf personally paid to have a web site set up and administered for all interested Shire Breeders to use free of charge, under the name of Shire Breeders of Australia.
Lobbied the SHS UK to save Australian Shire owners from a UK type stallion inspection scheme.
There are so many horse mad children who long for a pony but lots of them are going to grow out of the desire to have their own pony so it’s better to wait until your child has been involved with horses for some time before considering buying a horse or pony.
Owning a horse or pony is a huge commitment both financially and time wise. The horse will require caring for 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year and that will take several hours a day leaving little time for your child to pursue other hobbies.
As a parent you will need to consider if you have the time (and money) for horse ownership, often you’ll be required to provide lifts to the place the horse is kept, can you do this 7 days a week? Do you have the knowledge to be able to help out or indeed take over the care of the horse if your child is ill or too busy due to exams?
Horse ownership also means that the rest of the family will have to accept compromise due to both the financial and time commitment, are they prepared to do this or will it cause argument and resentment?
You should only buy your child a horse or pony when they have demonstrated that they have the necessary skills for horse ownership and full commitment to the responsiblities of horse ownership and when you, and your family, fully understand the financial, time and energy commitment required.
There are ways other than horse ownership for your child to be involved with horses. Obviously one should start with riding lessons and learning as much as possible about the care of horses by taking horse care courses. Some riding schools have special “own a pony” days / weeks where children can experience looking after an equine.
As your child becomes more and more committed to horses you could consider sharing a horse or pony that way the time and financial obligations are shared with someone else and you’ll get a better idea of whether or not you, your child and family are ready for full time horse ownership.
You can find out more about the implications of horse ownership, the real costs and the skills required before buying your first horse or pony by visiting All you need to know about horse ownership
The BHS Horse Owners Certificate Level 1
- Knowledge of horse types, uses, colours and markings.
- Elementary stable management.
- Knowledge of care and maintenance required to keep a horse healthy and comfortable in a stable.
- Stable routine and safety in the stable.
- Safe handling of both the horse and equipment necessary for his well-being.
- A knowledge of substances in common use which require particular care andand/or storage.
- Identification of items of tack in common use and naming of the parts.
- Basic care of tack.
- Ability to take apart, inspect for safety, clean and reassemble.
- Reasons and principles of grooming.
- Knowledge of the items in a grooming kit and their use.
- Basic knowledge of shoeing and care of the foot.
- Recognition of signs of health and ill health and when to call a vet.
- Temperature, pulse, respiration and the signs of health.
- Preventative treatments – worming, flu-vac etc including a basic knowledge of the need to worm and vaccinate.
- Elementary principles of watering and feeding and the rules of feeding and watering.
- A knowledge of buying a horse including points to look for and the need for a vet to assess the horse before purchase.
- Elementary rules for preparing a horse for a ride including riding out on the roads; returning from a ride; and how to dress for riding.
The BHS Horse Owners Certificate Level 2
- The reasons for shoeing and recognition of when shoeing or re-shoeing is required.
- A knowledge of the basic structure of the foot.
- Knowledge of a farrier’s tools and use.
- Know how to remove a shoe safely in an emergency.
Recognition of common injuries and basic first aid.
- Know how to arrest bleeding and treat different types of wounds.
- Knowledge of watering and feeding of the stabled horse and the horse at grass including feeding in all seasons and feeding for light work.
- Care and maintenance of grassland including the maintenance of fences, gates, shelter, watering etc.
- Care and improvement of the grassland to include a knowledge of harmful weeds and their control.
- The care of saddlery, including the inspection for soundness of saddles.
- A knowledge of the fitting and use of more items of equipment i.e. martingales,breastplates, boots etc.
- The necessity of insurance to cover all aspects of the horse and its use.
- Stable Routine for two horses which also includes all the extra jobs that need to be undertaken e.g. drains, guttering, paintwork, cleanliness of yard etc.
- A knowledge of the different types of bedding and their management including different systems e.g. deep litter.
- The Highway Code.
- The Country Code, including the correct and courteous use of bridleways.
The BHS Horse Owners Certificate Level 3
- The recognition, treatment and care of common injuries and ailments, further to Level Two.
- Changes from management in the stable to management at grass and viceversa.
- The procedures for getting a horse up from a period out at grass e.g.,teeth, worming etc. and the procedures for roughing-off a horse.
- Clipping, trimming and plaiting.
- Care and maintenance of horse transport; to include both horse boxes and trailers.
- A knowledge of the law regarding the transit of horses including weight ratios for trailers and legal requirement with regard to towing.
- Preparation of the horse for travel including aknowledge of equipment needed with regard to the length of journey and the climatic conditions.
- The care of the horse trekking and in competitive events.
- Understanding fitness and condition, and the maintenance of both.
- Knowledge of good and bad stable construction including different types of stabling.
- Basic requirements of planning regulations.
- Layout of stable yard to include handling and disposal of the muck heap.
- Knowledge of horse clothing and bandagingincluding their care and maintenance.
- Recognition of good and bad forage.
- Knowledge of different grasses found in hay samples and ability to identify weeds and poor grasses.
- Storage of forage
- Have a working knowledge of the costs involved in keeping a horse.
The BHS Horse Owners Certificate Level 4
- Knowledge of the main systems in the horse (Respiration, Reproduction,Digestive, Immune, etc.), their function and common problems associated with these systems, (COPD, Colic etc.)
- Knowledge of various grasses, conditions for growth and beneficial properties.
- Procedures for improving pasture i.e. drainage, cross grazing, re-seeding, fertilisers etc. Calendar of management for grassland. Haymaking – types and methods.
- Vitamins/Minerals – difference between them and why they may be deficient in the diet.
- Name main vitamins/minerals and their uses.
- Weights and types of feed available for: Riding School horses, Hunters, Competition Horses, etc.
- Knowledge of structure of the tooth and ageing characteristics. Description of structure of the mouth and common problems that may result from poor mouth conformation.
- Name and structure of different types of remedial shoes, describe the condition under which these shoes may be used and the way in which they affect improvement/relief.
- List the basic principles of sick nursing and the reasons/conditions for implementing these.
- Describe the way in which these principles may help to reduce severity of a condition/injury and any problems that may arise as a result.
- Outline the basic principles of fitting various saddles (dressage, jumping, cross-country, general purpose) and bridles (snaffle, double bridle).
- Describe the uses of specific ‘bits’ and gadgets, (draw reins, balancing reins, Market Harborough, De Gouge, etc.) and the way in which they work.
- List common stable vices and their possible causes and suggest ways to stop such vices and the preventative steps that can be taken to limit these.
- A general knowledge of The BHS and its Departments, Structure etc. Awareness of The BHS qualifications system and The BHS Register of Instructors.
- Action to be taken in the event of an accident. A knowledge of RIDDOR and legal obligations of an Instructor.
Candidate’s information packs are available from the BHS Examinations Department on request.
EHV-1 is a virus, Equine Herpes Virus Type 1. It is also called the “rhino virus” or “rhinopneuomitis”.
The EHV-1 virus is extremely contagious.
EHV-1 virus spreads via nasal secretions, through touch, through the air and through objects that have been in contact with infected horses this includes hands and clothing of people.
Equine Herpes Virus 1 (EHV-1) can cause respiratory disease, abortion, neonatal mortality and it can mutate to Equine Herpes Virus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) a severe viral brain and spinal fluid infection.
All equines – horses, donkeys, mules, zebras can contract EHV-1 as can alpacas and llamas.
Symptoms of Equine Herpes Virus Type 1 (EHV-1) include high temperature, lethargy, clear runny nose, many horses only get the respiratory version and clear the virus after a few days however they should still be evaluated by a vet and isolated for at least 21 days or until any infectious disease has been ruled out.
Symptoms of Equine Herpes Virus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) include high temperature, followed by a variety of possible neurologic signs which may include weakness, incoordination of the limbs, inability to urinate or pass manure, decreased tail tone. Signs are more apparent in the hindlimbs and in severe cases may progress to the inability to stand.
Prevention of EHV-1:
The best way to prevent EHV-1 exposure during suspected outbreaks is to quarantine your horses and yard / barn.
Practice bio-security in the yard see Minimising the risk of equine infectious diseases using biosecurity at the stable yard
If you think you may have been in contact with horses who have contracted EHV-1 start taking your horse’s temperature twice a day, if your horse’s temperature rises above normal (99-101°F (37.2-38.3°C) for an adult horse) contact your equine vet IMMEDIATELY.
There are several vaccines on the market to prevent the respiratory and abortion forms of the EHV-1 rhinovirus but there is currently no effective vaccine for the neurologic form of EHV-1. Your vet can advise you as to the best vaccine for your horse.
Tabanidae flies are the largest of blood sucking flies, there are approximately 4,500 species found world wide, 30 of which can be found in the UK. Adult flies feed on nectar but as a haematophagous fly the female horsefly feeds on blood to obtain the necessary nutrients for the development of their eggs and they will attack a wide variety of animals including horses and their human handlers.
The horsefly (genus Tabanus) bite is very painful as the female horsefly cuts and rasps the skin with powerful mandibles and maxillae to create a feeding hole. The blood is sucked using a protruding hypopharynx which causes pain to the host.
Tabanids can take up to 300ml of blood a day from a host severely weakening the animal, they are also known vectors for blood- borne diseases for horses such as Equine Infectious Anaemia. Horse fly bites are nasty resulting in lumps with a characteristic central ulcer. They can become infected.
Horsefly larvae inhabit moist areas feeding on invertebrates like snails and worms before they pupate. The adult horsefly emerges in June and July, the greatest horsefly activity occurs on warm, sunny days when there is little or no wind.
Insecticides containing pyrethroids (Permethrin or Cypermethrin) offer horses some protection against horse flies. Also consider stabling your horse on warm, sultry days when horse flies are active, horse flies don’t like dark areas and will not go into the stable.
To avoid being bitten yourself, wear long sleeved tops, apply a repellent that contains diethyltoluamide (DEET) and wear light coloured clothing which apparently doesn’t attract the flies like darker colours.