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The Four Oaks: A Biography of the Forshaws
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The Four Oaks: A Biography of the Forshaws (Hardback)

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The "Four Oaks" were the leaders, through four generations, of the Forshaw family, pre-eminent in international Shire Horse breeding from the time of Waterloo until the end of the Second World War. Keith Chivers, the foremost authority on the history of the Shire Horse, presents material which is not only original, but unique. A close friend of Richard, the last of the Four Oaks, he is able to recount the Forshaw's family history with inimitable accuracy and detail. Few, even of those old enough to remember their winter coal being delivered by a horse, have paused to consider how these animals were bred: their mothers were farm workers scattered throughout the country; their fathers were travelling stallions, walking up to seventy miles a week, each covering perhaps a hundred or more mares in a season. For the majority of farmers in England and Wales cart-horse breeding was only a side-line, but the specialist stallion-owners developed a highly organised and sophisticated system, which brought about an astonishing improvement in the power and longevity of the animals toiling in the towns.

The Forshaws were the foremost proprietors of heavy draught stallions in the country, renowned both at home and abroad for the quality of their animals. Largely thanks to them, by 1914 the English Shire was the most efficient draught horse in the world. Keith Chivers realises that "for most of us the lives and eccentricities of people are more interesting than horses", and "The Four Oaks" is peppered with fascinating accounts of the people and customs of the horse age. He recounts how the 'public stallion' business had a such a devastating effect on rural morals that mothers locked up their daughters when the stallion came to town - in Scotland a law was passed prohibiting the serving of mares in any place where women or boys could see it. We are introduced to a group of people spanning the social spectrum - ranging from George V to Gwen Webb-Peploe, daughter of the Vicar of Christ Church Cheltenham.

BiographyBiography: generalBiography: historical, political & militaryBiographyTrue storiesTrue stories: discovery / historical / scientificHistory & PoliticsHistory: specific events & topicsSocial & cultural historyNatural World & The EnvironmentThe natural world, country life & petsHorses & ponies Publisher: James Clarke & Co Ltd Publication Date: 25/10/1994 ISBN-13: 9780718829179  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
Availability: Unavailable. This title is Out of Print.  

Keith Chivers is the author of many other books and papers on the Shire Horse. He was the honorary historian of the Shire Horse Society from 1963, and from 1990 has been responsible for establishing a Shire Horse Archive.

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