Driffield News

Sledmere House named as Yorkshire’s first Shire Horse Society approved centre

Despite currently being closed to the public as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there is reason to celebrate at Sledmere House after it was named as Yorkshire’s first Shire Horse Society approved centre.

The news is the culmination of years of hard work at the stately home where the rare breed is thriving following the birth of shire horse foal Walter last year and another arrival is on the way in a matter of weeks.

Already a popular attraction for visitors to Sledmere, the shire horses will receive further publicity through the society and Farm Park Manager, Laura Clark, will be able to tap into the knowledge of experts as the breeding programme continues.

The team at Sledmere House were first told the news that they had been named as the sixth approved centre in the country back in October 2019 but were forced to keep it under wraps until recently.

Speaking to the Wolds Weekly prior to the house closing to the public, Laura described the announcement as ‘amazing’ and said Sledmere will continue to keep the breed going.

“We’re now an approved visitor centre for the Shire Horse Society which means they have recognised our work in raising the awareness of the breed,” said Laura.
“It also highlights the fact we are a breeder and are trying to conserve shire horses for years to come.

“We have known about it since October but it’s only recently when we’ve been able to tell everyone about it and as soon as we announced the news, we had a surge of people coming to see the horses before we closed.

“We’re the sixth centre in the country and the only one in Yorkshire. It’s a really good accolade for us, especially considering there are only six.

“It’s amazing for Sledmere. We will continue to implement the same procedures we have been doing since the horses first arrived in 2015 and keep allowing people to get as close to horses as we possibly can.

“It’s about them being hands-on, letting them groom the horses and Julie will hopefully continue to push out foals to keep the numbers up.

“The Shire Horse Society will advertise all our events and will also offer advice about breeding and driving horses.

“The Society also has a display team and we’ll be getting involved with that too, although that will probably be next year now.”
Walter was the first shire horse to be born under the breeding scheme and he will soon be joined by another, with Julie due to give birth in a three-week period centred around Wednesday 8th April.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus lockdown means that it might be a few months before visitors can go along to see the new foal, however Sledmere House will use its social media channels to post videos.

And, once renovation work at the tourist attraction is completed, the shire horse stables will be right next to the main entrance, giving them increased exposure.

“We have some foals due around 8th April but there is a three-week window for when they could be born,” continued Laura.

“Hopefully it’ll be around Easter, which would be good for us to publicise on social media as unfortunately we won’t be open.

“I’m preparing for some sleepless nights, but if it’s like last time, when Walter was born, hopefully it won’t be too bad.
“As well as Julie, we have Amy and Poppy, who drive, and, of course, last year’s foal, Walter.

Sledmere House and Estate. March 2020

“Hopefully he will drive too, but not until he’s three years old. At the moment, he’s just here to please people.

“He’s doing great at the moment. He came back indoors recently after being outside for a little holiday and we expected him to be naughty for a week or two.

“However, he’s been fine and loves life.

“The closure hasn’t been great timing for us but once this is all over, people will still be able to come along and see all the horses at Sledmere.

“The new building is going to help, and the horses will be close to the main entrance when it’s all completed.

“Lots of people don’t think they’re allowed near the stables currently, but that will change.”

The official opening of Sledmere House as an approved Shire Horse Society Centre was due to take place in early May, however this is likely to be rescheduled due to the current Government guidelines.

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