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There are few better sights than one of Hook Norton’s beautiful shire horses, stamping its feet and snorting on a cold winter’s morning, fully harnessed to pull its loaded dray 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 three heavy horses, Shire horses Nelson and Lucas, accompanied by our Clydesdale Commander. Our horses live the life of luxury onsite in their purpose built 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 are unique and stay true to our heritage.

At present the Shire and Clydesdale horse remain 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 and more information can be found on the Shire Horse Society website.

Where to see the Shires

The horses usually make local deliveries from Wednesday through to Friday, covering a 5 mile radius from the brewery to include to the Sun Inn, Pear Tree and the Gate Hangs High (weather permitting).
If you are planning a visit to the brewery and would like to see the drays on their delivery rounds it is always best to phone ahead and check that the shires will be working on that day. 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 events over the year to include:

  • Blenheim Palace, Stables Exhibition – 16th, 17th & 18th July.
  • The Red Lion, Steeple Aston – 31st July
  • South Newington Flower Show – 7th August
  • The Cotswold Show – 14th, 15th August
  • Blenheim Palace Food Festival – 21st, 22nd August
  • The Star Inn, Sulgrave – 28th August
  • The George Inn, Brailes – 29th August
  • Moreton Show – 4th September
  • Castle Inn, Oxford – 11th September
  • Warwick Racecourse – 30th September
  • Blenheim Palace, Stables Exhibition – 1st, 2nd, 3rd October
  • Blenheim Palace, Stables Exhibition – 15th, 16th, 17th October
  • Warwick Racecourse – 5th November
  • Warwick Racecourse – 9th December

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

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

See our Shire Horses in action

BBC South Today 2021
Racing UK TV 2018
Horse of the Year Show 2018 with Martin Clunes