Gunner the Shire teams up with new best mate Steve the Shetland for happy retirement

  • Gunner the Shire horse is enjoying retirement, after a short but glamorous career, with his “new best friend” — Steve the Shetland pony.

    The 18.3hh gelding, who was retired aged seven with soundness issues, has chummed up with Steve in his new home in Whitchurch, Shropshire.

    Gunner had spent the previous four years in Blackburn, at the headquarters of Lancashire brewer and hotelier Daniel Thwaites, acting as an ambassador for the company, which owns pubs and spa hotels.

    Gunner, with Thwaites’ other Shires Wainwright, 15, five-year-old Ribble and four-year-old Drummer, travelled some 10,000 miles a year, meeting fans at pub openings, fun days and other activities.

    “Although still in his prime at seven, Gunner’s recurring back condition meant the company’s resident team of horsemen had to make the difficult decision to retire him early,” a Thwaites spokesman said.

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    “He will now enjoy a slower pace of life eating grass and roaming the Shropshire farm’s many acres with Steve the Shetland.”

    Shires delivered Thwaites beer to pubs in Lancashire from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. In the 1960s, horses returned to the firm as its mascots.

    Executive chairman Richard Bailey said: “Gunner is a kind-natured horse and one of our largest Shires who won many people over through his appearances at shows and in our pubs and hotels.

    “Of course, we’re very sad to see Gunner retire and move on, but this story has a happy ending. Gunner is joining a family who are connected to David Kay, one of the previous managing directors of Thwaites whose idea it originally was to bring the Shire horses back.

    “Our head horseman Richard Green and his team provide the best care for our Shires. They remain an iconic part of the Thwaites brand and we hope to have them out and about greeting their fans again as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

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