‘He will be missed’: world’s tallest horse dies aged 20

  • The world’s tallest horse, who held a Guinness World Record, has died aged 20.

    “Big Jake” died last month at Smokey Hollow Farm in Wisconsin, United States. The Belgian gelding stood 2.75 inches over 20hh, without shoes.

    The farm bought Big Jake as a three-year-old. He was the offspring of two “average” size horses, and weighed 240lbs (109kg) when he was born. While he was tall for a foal, he was not “exceptionally big” but “just kept growing”, his owners said. Jake went on to compete in draught showing competitions and retired aged 17.

    Jake broke the record for the tallest living horse on 19 January 2010 and first appeared in the 2011 edition of the Guinness World Records book. The record was formerly held by a 20hh Clydesdale in Texas, called Remington.

    The only verified record of a taller horse was a Shire named Sampson, bred by Thomas Cleaver of Toddington Mills in Bedfordshire. Sampson (later renamed Mammoth) measured 21hh 2.5 inches in 1850 and has held the “tallest horse ever” title for 171 years.

    Smokey Hollow Farm confirmed the news of Jake’s death on 28 June with a “heavy heart”.

    “Big Jake was much more than a world record holder. He was a central part of our family,” said the Gilbert family.

    “We feel very privileged to have had him in our lives. He truly loved people and impacted many over the course of his lifetime.”

    The family said they were “absolutely blown away” by the support and kind words from Jake’s fans.

    “Our beloved boy is in heaven with his driving pal and best friend Almighty Bruce. Bruce passed away in spring also at the age of 20 and he was also a 20hh horse. They were quite the pair!”

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    Vallicia Gilbert told H&H Jake was “very affectionate” with people and gentle with children.

    “He absolutely loved the attention and never tired of it,” she said.

    “He attracted visitors to the farm when we advertised barn tours to come and see him up close in person. He will be missed for years to come.”

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