FAIR FACES: Draft team owner a fan of rare shire breed

ROGER SCHNEIDER | THE GOSHEN NEWSBrier Kicher gives Pearl, a shire draft horse, a bath Friday at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.

GOSHEN — Handling a horse that weighs 1,800 pounds is easy, if that horse is a shire.

That’s what Brier Kicher and Keri Pritts said as they washed down Opal and Pearl, two shire mares.

The young women from Pennsylvania had to use step ladders Friday to reach the backs and necks of the horses.

“People tend to think that the horses, the bigger they are the more dangerous they are,” Brier said. “That is not the case. These guys are so gentle and easy to work with, even though they are a lot bigger.

“It is a lot of fun. They have a lot of personality.”

She said the people watching the fair parade Sunday will get a good show when the team passes.

“They will be all braided up and will look good,” Brier said.

Tom Greenlee, owner of Greenlee Farms, of Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, breeds and sells the gentle giants. He is a first-time exhibitor at the fair and brought his six-hitch team of shires to participate in the parade. The team will also trot by the grandstands nightly before concerts.

“Every night we will get to demonstrate for the people in the stands,” he said.

He and four friends drove two trucks pulling two trailers to get the all-mare team to the fairgrounds.

He said his team is the only all-mare shire team in the United States.

The shire draft horse originated in England, according to Greenlee, and are pretty rare. Through his sales and breeding he is attempting to expand the popularity of the breed.

“There are actually less shire horses then there are Bengal tigers or pandas,” he said.

The large horses also have large appetites. Greenlee said when the team is working they consume about 8 pounds of grain and up to 35 pounds of hay per day, per horse.

“Their temperament is second to none,” Greenlee said.

After arriving late at night Thursday, Greenlee said he had not had a lot of time to look over the fairgrounds. But what he had reviewed, impressed him.

“There are a lot of people who take a lot of time to do just little things that make this a nice fair,” Greenlee said.

Roger Schneider can be reached at rschneider@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 309. Follow Roger on Facebook and also on Twitter @rschneider_TGN

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