Early history of Shire Horse Breeders Australia

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.


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