Sampson, a 6-feet-8 inch tall and 3,359-pound shire gelding named Sampson was an enormous horse.
Jerry Gilbert kept him at Smokey Hollow Farm in Wisconsin, feeding it daily with bales and buckets of hay.
Sampson roamed the English countryside during the 19th century as the world’s largest horse. Reaching 7 feet 2.5 inches and weighing 3,360 pounds, he was known as Mammoth at his peak height and weight. Born at Toddington Mills in Bedfordshire on 1846 – where his sire had also resided – this Shire horse became world renowned due to his size and strength.
Samson of the Bible was an incredible strongman destined to take revenge against the Philistines, using his incredible strength to destroy crops of theirs and kill several of those responsible for his wife Delilah’s murder (Judges 15:1-5).
Sampson may have been the biggest horse ever, but there were other contenders throughout history. Clydesdales such as Brooklyn Supreme attained massive sizes; one owned by a patent veterinary medicine company founder stood 20.5 hands and weighed more than 3,000 pounds!
Big Jake, an outstanding Belgian draft horse with the remarkable distinction of being the world’s tallest living horse. Standing at 20 hands 2.75 inches (6’10” at his withers), Big Jake stood as tall as most NBA players while weighing more than 1,000 lbs. He lived at Smokey Hollow Farm near Poynette in Wisconsin under ownership by Jerry Gilbert and his family.
Big Jake was the result of two average-sized horses mating; yet when he was born with a massive birthweight of 240 pounds – almost double what would normally be expected for this breed – he quickly continued growing, eventually surpassing both parents in height at three years old and needing special double-sized stall feeding and daily bales of hay deliveries as well as transportation via semi-trailer to various locations.
Big Jake was loved and revered by all who met him, making a regular appearance at the Wisconsin State Fair, drawing crowds of admirers each time. Though retired from show ring competition at age nine, he continued making appearances and helping raise money for Ronald McDonald House through appearances with his owners. Unfortunately, Big Jake passed away just short of his expected lifespan of 25 to 35 years in June of 2021.
King Buck, an enormous Belgian draft horse used for pulling carts and other purposes, weighs 3,126 pounds and stands 19.3 hands high; though slightly slimmer than Sampson compared to Sampson. King Buck lives at Hershberger’s Farm and Bakery in Millersburg, Ohio where many visitors come to visit and view him.
Buck’s first season at Olin was marked with several impressive wins and even a Derby triumph, though not without having some setbacks and suffering some distemper. Following these setbacks, Howard decided to entrust King with Cotton Pershall who specialized in running Nilo teams.
When King arrived outside to wait for scoring to begin, she was directed by her scorers to sit privately for over an hour while they met behind closed doors for over an hour before returning into the room to announce that King would qualify for panel scoring despite not setting a world record or meeting B&C requirements for panel scoring.
King was an impressive competitor on the national field trial circuit despite his low panel score, winning three challenge trophies in 2004 alone; these included Guy S. Osborn and Midwest Field Trial Club President’s Trophies. King continued competing for four more years, competing against younger dogs as well as established champions.
A Shire is a British breed of gigantic horses that produce giant horses. On average, these giant animals stand over 68 inches and weigh more than 2,200 pounds on average. These impressive beasts were initially used to pull carts on farms, in breweries, and coal mines but today are often employed in forestry work or leisure riding activities. Shires come in black, bay, or gray hues and may include white markings on their faces or front legs without exceeding acceptable threshold levels; any white patches should remain small.
While shires can be stunning creatures, their maintenance can be costly. They require regular feedings of nutritious feed as well as custom-made tack, as well as regular exercise to prevent their joints from stiffening up. But if you can spare the expense, they make fantastic companion horses who rarely rear or buck.
Though famed globally, Shire horses are considered endangered species. Since machinery replaced them as farm and industrial workers, their numbers have steadily decreased. Luckily, dedicated breeders are working hard to protect these magnificent creatures; if you’re interested in owning one yourself, make sure you contact a reputable rescue or breeder first so they can provide complete information regarding its health history and condition so you can make a fully informed decision.