2014-07-16  facebook twitter rss

Milnerfield Shires to go Under the Hammer at Skipton

Local farmer Keith Downs is preparing to hand over the reins after 36 years as a leading Shire horse breeder and showman.

Mr Downs and his wife Pam, of Milner Field Farm, Bingley, are staging a dispersal sale of all 20 horses in their renowned Milnerfield Stables at Skipton Auction Mart, on Saturday, August 9.

Milnerfield Stables

Keith and Pam Downs are pictured at Milnerfield Stables with two of their fillies and foals. On the left is Milnerfield Emma and her filly foal Milnerfield Princess, while right is Milnerfield Gold Gift and her colt foal Milnerfield Edward.
Picture by Adrian Legge Photography

The sale will see both Shire horses and coloured cobs go under the hammer and will include 20 mares and foals, yearling fillies and a three-year-old cob broken to ride or drive. Milnerfield Stables is renowned for having some of the best bloodlines in the country and the horses are said to be of a quiet nature and good to handle.

It will be the first sale of its kind ever staged at Skipton Auction Mart, with the livestock pens specially adapted to house the horses, which will also be put through their paces prior to sale in Craven College’s on-site equestrian facility. Viewing is from 11.30am, with the sale due to start at 1pm.

Milnerfield Stables was established in 1978 when Mr Downs acquired his first foal from the late George Fletcher, a well-known Bradford Shire horse breeder.

Over the years, the stable has produced many champions at local, regional and national shows. Among its recent top performers is Milnerfield Sir William, national champion at the Shire Horse Society 2010 Spring Show in Peterborough and reserve national champion the following year.

Sir William is now owned by Chris and Jayne Malkin, of Lockley Shires in Lockley Wood, Shropshire, and he has produced some top-notch young progeny for them.

Star of Faith, the senior mares winner at this year’s Shire Horse Society Spring show in the hands of eminent showman Walter Bedford, of York, was produced from Milnerfield stock, while the Downs’ own mare Milnerfield Emma, who is in the dispersal sale with her own filly foal at foot, qualified for the 2013 Horse of the Year Show.

Emma is now five-years-old and will be on show with her second foal, Milnerfield Princess. Her first foal, acquired by Red Rose Shire horse breeder and showman Philip Woof, of Great Harwood, won the yearling class at this year’s Cheshire County Show.

Milnerfield horses have been exported to many parts of the world, including Ireland, Sweden, Germany and the United States. Some have gone on to excel in the show arena in their respective countries, including national championship successes.

As well as Milnerfield Sir William, other stallions used in recent years include Moorfield Edward, Moorfield Ted, Lockley Topsman, and Slades Benefactor. Both the Moorfield and Slades stables are highly respected in the Shire horse world and have themselves produced national champions.

Some Milnerfield horses in the dispersal sell with foals at foot and have been served again, while others have been served this season. There are also some young stock which show great promise for the future. In fact, many of the horses in the sale are said to have show potential.

Among the older horses is the mare Moorfield Lady Sara, a full sister to Moorfield Ted, with three further females in the sale themselves out of Lady Sara.

Mr Downs, a well-known face on the local agricultural show circuit – he is a past Gargrave Show Shire horse champion - is a long-standing member of the Shire Horse Society.

He said he was handing over the reins after more than three “enjoyable and fulfilling” decades in the Shire horse world to concentrate on his core farming interests. “The dispersal sale represents an ideal opportunity for anyone seeking to acquire foundation stock from an established and proven stable,” said Mr Downs.

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