News catgories


Shire horse and dray join shoppers at Stafford Farmers’ Market ahead of big Shire horse show

Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2018 by Heather Dodd

A special visitor trotted into Stafford Farmers’ Market to help promote the world’s largest gathering of Shire horses, which takes place at Staffordshire Showground from 16th to 18th March.

Stunning Shire horse Bobek and the Robinsons Brewery dray, along with representatives from the Shire Horse Society, were on hand to meet and greet shoppers and explain more about the National Shire Horse Show.

The Mayor of Stafford Councillor Aidan Godfrey welcomed the team to the town, ahead of the big show, which is expected to attract around 250 of the gentle giants of the horse world from across Europe.

Open to the public, the show is the perfect place to see these magnificent horses in all their glory and being put through their paces – in hand, in harness or being ridden.

This year’s event is a special one for the Shire Horse Society, as it marks the charity’s 140th birthday. On Friday, it will be hosting a Royal visit when The Countess of Wessex tours the show in her role as Patron of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations (ASAO). The Shire Horse Society – the only charity that is devoted to the protection, preservation and promotion of this magnificent British breed of horse – is a member of ASAO.

Shire Horse Society secretary Victoria Clayton said: “We are thrilled that The Countess of Wessex is joining us during the first day of our three-day event, which is the world’s largest gathering of pedigree Shire horses.

“We are very much looking forward to explaining how we are working to preserve this wonderful breed of horse, which is still considered ‘at risk’ despite a resurgence in interest in Shire horses since a very low point a few decades ago when the breed was in danger of dying out. Even now, fewer than 300 pedigree Shire horse foals are born and registered every year, so it’s vital for the breed that we promote these beautiful horses.”

During the visit, Her Royal Highness will tour Bingley Hall at Staffordshire Showground – meeting some of the Shire Horse Society members who are showing their horses and a number of traders who have taken stands at the event. The Countess is also due to watch some of the horses in action in the ring and will present awards in one of the classes.

The Shire Horse Society’s National Show has been held at a limited number of venues in England over its long history, and is believed to be one of the oldest, almost continuous, horse shows in the world, having been held for the first time at the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington, London, in 1880, when the charity was named the English Cart Horse Society.

This is the third year the flagship event of the Shire Horse Society has been held at Staffordshire Showground.

Tickets to the show are discounted in advance up until the end of Thursday 15th March from the Shire Horse Society’s website or are available on the gate. Gates open on Friday 16th March at 8am and at 7am on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th March.

For more details and ticket information about the show, visit or follow @saveourshires on Twitter or at

Macie Tyler, five, from Stafford with the Mayor of Stafford Councillor Aiden Godfrey and the Mayoress Wendy Godfrey, and the Robinsons Brewery dray By Paul Milgate-Scarrott (35)

Emma Massingdale’s Latest Adventure with Eriskay Ponies

Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2018 by Heather Dodd

Emma Massingale, one of Mole Valley Farmers’ ( sponsored riders will be back on our TV screens next week, after spending a month horseboarding behind two young Eriskay ponies across the ten islands which make up the Outer Hebrides. Emma’s latest adventure will be broadcast in three parts on the One Show, on Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 February.

As viewers will see, once again she took the challenge head on, camping out with ponies Noah and Storm and her little dog Inca, foraging and fishing for food as she went.

She says:

“Wow, what an adventure! The Outer Hebrides are truly breathtaking and there are natural treasures around every corner. Ten islands explored, six causeways crossed and around 185 miles covered! We finished filming at the Butt of Lewis. It was a world first to travel like this and I loved horseboarding with Noah and Storm, while carrying Inca on my back. The Eriskays have learnt a lot – there’s nothing like training on the job. I always try and prepare for a trip but until you’re actually living it, you never really know what you have let yourself in for!”

Emma concluded:

“A big thank you to my fiancé Jeremy, who helps with all the logistics, leaving me to concentrate on the ponies. Follow our highs and lows on the BBC’s The One Show starring next week”. I have loved horse boarding along with Noah, Storm and little Inca on my back! It’s now time for us to head for home! A massive thank you to Jeremy, Poppy and Kis for all your help and support. You will be able to see our adventure soon on the BBC for The One Show.y corner. I have loved horse boarding along with Noah, Storm and little Inca on my back! It’s now time for us to head for home! A massive thank you to Jeremy, Poppy and Kis for all your help and support. You will be able to see our adventure soon on the BBC for The One Show.

This was Emma’s third equine adventure, where she has taken a native pony breed back to its place of origin.  Firstly she transported her Connemaras to a remote Irish Island for a month; then trekked coast to coast across Scotland with her Highlands; Albert and Ernie went back to the Shetland Islands by sail boat and now the Eriskays have gone back to their roots in the Outer Hebrides.

Emma has amply demonstrated the mental and physical strengths of each breed and the often surprising ways they are adapted to live and thrive in their native environments.  The majority of indigenous British ponies are endangered – for instance, there are fewer Eriskay ponies than giant pandas and the breed is classed as ‘critically endangered’ by the Rare Breed Survival Trust, with less than 300 in the world.

Emma is demonstrating in very practical ways just how versatile and low maintenance the various breeds can be, compared to their larger horse equivalents.  Also they are literally built to withstand the challenges of their native environments.

Emma with Eriskays


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