GENTLE giants mixed with petite ponies at the annual Shire Horse Show in Abergavenny on Saturday.

Crowds of around 2,000 were expected across the day at the 32nd annual show, with competitors from throughout the UK bringing their shire horses and miniature horses to the ring.

With colourful ribbons plaited into their manes and tails, the horses brightened Abergavenny’s Bailey Park with many families wandering through and snapping pictures with the lofty Shires.

As Nicola Stevens and Emma McCarthy, from Nelson, groomed 850kg Shire horse Joey, they described preparation for his entry in the heavy horse category: “We bathed him yesterday, we have just washed his feathers [the hair around his hooves], and we will just groom him to within an inch of his life now! He enjoys having the fuss.”

Another competitor, 24-year-old Danny Roberts, travelled from west Devon to be at the show with his champion Walton Premiere. At just a year old, Walton was entered in the yearling class and has already been successful at previous shows.

There were 43 Shire horses at the show, along with around 20 miniature horses.

Leslie Moulden, South Wales Shire Horse Society’s president, said: “The weather has been kind to us and so far it’s going very well indeed. This year we have the qualifier show for the Shire Horse of the Year. We’ve had a lot of good entries, from all parts of the country.”

David McMillan attended the show with his eight-year-old daughter Jessica, whose favourite part was the miniature horses. Smaller than many Shetlands, the horses are much too small for an adult to ride but can be used to pull carts or to admire for being ‘cute’, as Jessica put it.

Ceri Grant-Thomas, general secretary of the show, said: “We have had a much bigger turn-out of Shire horses than last year because we changed our date.

“The show has a very friendly atmosphere, and the horse lines are right next to the ring so even the exhibitors are able to watch the classes. People will be popping in and out throughout the day.”

Shire horses were first bred more than 1,000 years ago, in the Midland counties of England.