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Rare breed heavy horses celebrated at Devon County Show with new Heavy Horse Festival

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Rare breed heavy horses celebrated at Devon County Show with new Heavy Horse Festival

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This year and for the first time ever, the Devon County Show is to host The Festival of Heavy Horses.

The festival provides an opportunity for Devon County Show visitors and heavy horse owners to share their passion for these incredible gentle giants, many of which are now on the endangered breeds list.  

David Mouland with his pair of North American Belgians

The festival will comprise 16 horses representing different breeds including Shires, Clydesdales, Suffolks, Percherons and Canadian Belgians - the world’s largest breed of draught horse that can stand a magnificent 20hh.

The owners will be on hand demonstrating the breeds’ expertise across a range of disciplines in the main arena across the three days of the show.  These will include the pulling of drays, agricultural carts and ladies’ carts.  

In the Heavy Horse Village, which will be located near the Farrier’s Forge, visitors will be able to watch the spectacle of the horses being bedecked in their traditional finery with shining brass, leather harnesses, ringing bells, plaited manes and tails tied with colourful ribbons before they take to the main arena in hand as well as ridden.

All of the heavy horse action will be complimented by an expert commentary team who will keep the audience well informed about each breed and the important role they have played in agricultural history. 

The organisation of the Festival is being masterminded by Diana McFeat in association with WHISTLEFISH and Devon County Show.

Diana, from North Devon has a long-held passion for heavy horses and is the proud owner of five of her own award-winning Shires.

Diana is delighted to be bringing this extraordinary heavy horse pageant to Devon County Show.  Commenting she said: "The purpose of the Festival is to help ensure the preservation of these majestic, kind and loving beasts for the future and to impress upon the audience through a series of demonstrations that they are not just an ancient relic of our past but a truly versatile horse of the future."

The Festival of Horses takes place at Devon County on Thursday, 18 May, Friday, 19 May, and Saturday, 20 May, 2023.

Early Bird Tickets are available to book now at


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