Workhorses of Britain's farms and battlefields face extinction within years

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Whether it is carrying armour-clad knights into battle, hauling iron ploughs through fields of thick English mud, greasing the wheels of the Industrial Revolution or dragging artillery guns during both world wars, shire horses have played a pivotal role in Britain's history for 1,000 years.

But many of the country's finest draught breeds could be extinct within a generation following a dramatic drop in the number of people willing to breed them, experts predict.

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) announced yesterday that the number of draught horses in the UK is dwindling every year as breeders turn away from heavy horses to cheaper and less resource-hungry breeds.

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