A popular brewery which recently lost its beloved shire horse has now welcomed a new one to its team.

Hook Norton Brewery, now only one of three breweries to still deliver using traditional shire horse and dray has welcomed the latest addition to their shire horse team.

Joining them all the way from Wales, four-year-old shire horse ‘Balmoral’ renamed in tribute to Her Majesty the Queen, joins three other shire horses as colleagues of the brewery.

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The bay shire, purchased from Dyfed Shire Horse Farm, suppliers of three shire horses to the household cavalry for use as drum horses, will learn the trade of a dray horse before working alongside his companion Brigadier to deliver beer in the local area and compete around the country in shows and demonstrations.

Head Coachman, Nicholas Carter said: ‘We’ve been waiting a long time to find another horse suitable to join our first class team and we’re thrilled to finally find one.

“Balmoral’s temperament and character is exactly what we’re looking for and hope to have a long successful career with him here at the brewery.

“He and our other horses will continue keeping traditions alive and securing our working horses legacy and prominence of this ‘at risk’ breed.’

Hook Norton Brewery has recently been granted status as an approved Shire Horse Society centre, marking their commitment to the survival of the breed.

With over 20,000 visitors through its doors each year, the onsite team are passionate about raising the awareness to the risk of our native heavy horse breed, as well as the skills and knowledge they carry with them.

The Shire horse breed remains classified as ‘at risk’ of extinction and it’s approved centres like Hook Norton Brewery and Dyfed Shire Horse farm, along with many others that keep these noble working horses in the public eye.

Hook Norton Brewery’s on-site stables are open Wednesday to Sunday, with free admission to the public.

Bringing tradition into the modern day, they continue to make horse drawn deliveries routinely on a Friday at mid-day.

For more details, please head to their Facebook page Hook Norton Brewery Shire Horses or www.hooky.co.uk.

For more information on the Shire Horse breed please visit www.shire-horse.org.uk.

Balmoral’s arrival comes shortly after the death of Commander, a Clydesdale horse that worked at the brewery since 2019.

At the time of commander’s death, a spokesperson for Hook Norton Brewery said: “He was a larger-than-life horse, with the gentlest of hearts and cheekiest of characters.

“A friend and colleague with a CV which no horse will ever beat.”


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1