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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

Ordinarily, the horses would 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).
The Shire team is currently undergoing an exciting transition period as we look to bring onboard three young Shire horses, meaning that at present, deliveries are currently on hold. We hope to commence horse drawn deliveries again in the spring 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 events over the year to include:

  • Blenheim Palace, Stables Exhibition – 16th, 17th & 18th 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
  • The Crown Inn, Benson – 30th August
  • Moreton Show – 4th September
  • Blenheim Palace Autumn Show – 1st, 2nd, 3rd October
  • Blenheim Palace Christmas Market – 11th, 12th, 18th & 19th 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 and Instagram to keep up to date with their activities.

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


We are on the look out for a groom to join the Shire Horse Team. Full details and how to apply can be found here

See our Shire Horses in action

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

Proudly sponsored by

Newbridge Straw Products