There are few better sights than Hook Norton’s beautiful shire horses, stamping their feet and snorting on a cold winter’s morning, fully harnessed to a loaded brewers dray weaving its way through local Cotswold villages and country lanes. These wonderful ‘workhorses’ have been an integral part of brewery life since its founding day back in 1849 and for many, many years were the reliable backbone of its delivery system. At present, the Brewery has four Shire horses, Brigadier, Balmoral, Cromwell and Nelson. Our horses live the life of luxury onsite in their purpose built onsite stables accompanied by 18 acres of rolling Cotswold countryside for them to graze at their leisure.

Hook Norton Brewery is incredibly proud to be one of three breweries, bringing tradition into the present day by continuing to deliver our award winning ales by horse drawn dray. Whilst a handful of other breweries have Shire horses, these remain predominantly for promotional events whilst we remain true to our heritage, keeping them as key colleagues in our delivery team.

At present the Shire horse breed remains at critical risk of extinction due to their rapid decline in numbers, our open stables and knowledgeable Shire horse team aim to raise awareness of their plight to help secure their future for years to come. Hook Norton Brewery is proud to have gained status as an ‘Approved Shire Horse Society Centre’ earning this accreditation in October 2021, more information can be found on the Shire Horse Society website.

Follow the team on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with their activities.

Where to see the Shires

Traditionally, the horses would usually make local deliveries from Wednesday through to Friday, covering a 4 mile radius from the brewery to include to the Sun Inn, Pear Tree and the Gate Hangs High (weather permitting).
The Shire team is busy training up our young Shire Horses, which unfortunately means deliveries are currently on hold. We hope to commence full horse drawn deliveries, to all three pubs, in the autumn and will endeavour to keep our website and social media updated accordingly. The tour of the brewery includes a tour of the stables and we aim to have the horses in the stables during your visit subject to operational or weather reasons.

Our working team of shires can be seen around the county appearing at numerous public and private events over the year and can be seen at the below 2024 events:

8th, 9th & 10th March – National Shire Horse Show
23rd March – Wedding
29th March – Bourton-On-The-Water
1st April – Hooky on Tour – James Clarke riding Brigadier to The Pear Tree & The Sun, Hook Norton
27th April – Wedding
6th May – Hooky on Tour – James Clarke riding Brigadier to Ye Olde Reindeer Inn & Coach & Horses, Banbury
11th & 12th May – Blists Hill Victorian Museum
18th May – Wedding
26th May – Hooky on Tour – James Clarke riding Brigadier to The Fox & Red Lion, Chipping Norton
1st June – Star at Sulgrave
8th June – Hooky on Tour – James Clarke riding Brigadier to The Castle, Oxford
14th, 15th & 16th June – Royal Three Counties Show
22nd June – Wedding
29th & 30th June – Bloxham Steam Rally
28th July – British Driving Society, Carriage driving meet onsite.
10th August – Fairport Convention
24th August – Towersey Festival
7th September –  Moreton Show

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like the horses to appear at your event: shirehorse@hooky.co.uk

Hook Norton Brewery is now proud to offer hands on Shire Horse experience days, more details can be found here.

Take home a piece of brewing history with our Shire Horse collection available in our brewery shop and online.

Listen to Nick’s Interview

Hook Norton Brewery’s Head Coachman, Nick Carter was interviewed for the “From the Horsebox” podcast – listen here:

Hook Norton Brewery’s Head Coachman, Nick Carter. (buzzsprout.com)

See our Shire Horses in action

A Look Back Over 2023 for our Shire Horse Team
BBC South Today 2021
A Look Back Over 2021 For our Shire Horse Team
Horse of the Year Show 2018 with Martin Clunes 

A day in the life of one of our dray horses, 11 year old Shire horse, Lady Grey. Delivering our beer to the Pear Tree Inn and to the village butchers to use in their lovely sausages!

Proudly sponsored by

Newbridge Straw Products