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What Is the Largest Horse That Is Alive?

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Publishers of Guinness World Records no longer recognize the world’s heaviest animals due to concerns about animal health, but they do keep up with the shortest, tallest, oldest and most expensive creatures on Earth, including horses. As it turns out, most people would need a step-ladder to mount the world’s largest equine.

Tallest Living Horse

According to the Guinness World Records 2013 edition, Big Jake is the tallest living horse. This Belgian gelding weighs 2,600 pounds and stands just shy of 6 feet 11 inches tall; that’s 20 hands, two and three-quarter inches in horse terms. Big Jake, owned by Jerry Gilbert of Smokey Hollow Farm in Nebraska, took the title from a Clydesdale named Remington in 2010. He is part of a horse team that pulls a show wagon. According to Gilbert, he’s kept on a strict diet of a bale and a half of hay and 40 quarts of oats daily.

Notable Record Holders

In 2003, Goliath received the title as the tallest living horse with a height of 6 feet 5 inches. A year later his stable-mate, Radar, inched him out with a height of 6 feet 7½ inches. These two Percherons, owned by Priefert Manufacturing of Mount Pleasant, Texas, pull a show wagon at promotional events. In 2007, Radar briefly lost his title to a Shire mare named Tina who was 6 feet 8 inches. Unfortunately, Tina died of complications from hip surgery in 2008, and Radar regained the record. A Clydesdale named Remington, owned by Cheryl Davis of Princeton, Texas and also standing 6 feet 8 inches, took the title in 2009.

Largest Horse Breeds

Samson, a Shire, was said to have weighed 3,300 pounds and stood 7 feet 2 inches tall in the 1850s. Today, Shires are considered the largest of all draft-horse breeds. Other gentle giants include Percherons, Clydesdales, Belgian drafts, Nivernaise and Suffolk punch horses. Some horse breed historians believe that Shires and Belgians are both descendants of the legendary Great Horse of medieval times that was said to have carried armored knights into battle and in tournaments. Prior to the advent of motorized vehicles, draft horses were used in teams to pull heavy loads such as beer wagons, railroad construction supplies, covered wagons and farm equipment. Specially trained draft horses pulled the heaviest steam pumpers and ladder wagons for early fire departments. After World War I, many draft breeds nearly disappeared because they were no longer needed.

Other Horse Records

While Guinness no longer records the heaviest horse, they do have some other interesting horse records. In 2006, Thumbelina was named the shortest living horse at 17.5 inches tall, which is eight times shorter than JJS Summer Breeze's tail -- measured in 2007 at a record-breaking 12 feet 6 inches long. A 2-year-old Belgian draft horse named Mchilraths Captain Jim sold for $112,500 in 2003, making him the most expensive draft horse. In 2006, an unnamed colt was the most expensive horse ever sold at auction with a winning bid of $16 million. The 2-year-old horse that had never even run a race. In 1949, Capt. Alberto Larraguibel Morales of Chile rode a horse named Huaso ex-Faithful into the record book by clearing an 8-foot-1-inch high jump.