Meet Ben and Senator, our resident shire horses.
In the early days, shire horses were essential to the cider making process. Their big size meant they could pull the stone around to manually press the apples into a pulp. Also, before we had the luxury of cars and lorries, we relied on our horses to pull our cider wagon to all of the local pubs.
Part of the family
Although modern technology means we no longer need shire horses at our cider mill, our firm appreciation of our history and heritage make us want them here. Simply put, Westons Cider Mill wouldn't be the same without them. Ben and Senator have been with us on our farm for over 10 years and prove very popular with our visitors. More recently, we introduced Ronnie who at only two is very playful. The three horses enjoy galloping around in their field and are partial to a cider apple or two!
Standing at 18 hands and weighing up to a tonne, the Shire horse is the tallest and heaviest of the modern draught breeds. However, despite their size they are considered the 'gentle giants' of the equine world. They are well known for their docile temperament and incredible stamina which explains how they first to be part of the Westons family many years ago.
Shire horses have dense rounded bodies, broad backs, strong loins, powerful hind-quarters, and long legs with dense bones. They have relatively large, wide-set and expressive eyes but perhaps their most distinctive feature is their long white silky hair on the lower parts of their legs. The hair down the back of the legs is called the 'feather', while the hair over the feet is known as the 'spats'.
Our Groundsman, Graham, ensures Ben, Senator and Ronnie are always kept clean and healthy. He spends a lot of time with the horses making sure they are well looked after and feel very loved, much like our own pets. Their shoes are changed every six weeks and they are wormed every nine weeks.
Ben and Senator regularly give dray rides down to the village and back and, on the days when they are not out, can often be seen in the stables. They also attend community events and shows and can be hired for weddings and other events.
For weddings, we offer the choice of our traditional dray, or an elegant Landau as a carriage. If you wish to view the horses or carriages, or you would like more information or a quotation, please telephone Rose Manns, Visitor Centre Manager on: 01531 660108 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
If he's not busy tending to our award-winning Hereford Cattle, Tom regularly drives the horses here at the mill, at shows, weddings and other events, as well as cider deliveries to local pubs from time to time. He also leads Senator 'in hand' (walking him round without the dray) at shows.