This year for the first time, the Devon County Show is to host The Festival of Heavy Horses. The festival provides an opportunity for visitors and heavy horse owners to share their passion for these incredible gentle giants, many of which are now on the endangered breeds list.

The feature will comprise of 16 horses representing different breeds, including Shires, Clydesdales, Suffolks, Percherons and Canadian Belgians, the largest breed of draught horse.

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 horses being prepared in their traditional turnout, before they take to the main arena in hand as well as ridden. An expert commentary team will keep the audience 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 said she was delighted to be bringing this new feature to Devon County Show.

“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,” she said.

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

Lead image of David Mouland and his pair of North American Belgians

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