Horses come in many shapes and sizes, from the Falabella miniature horse to the tall British Shire. However, there is one horse that stands out above the rest. A Belgian draft horse named Big Jake became famous in 2012 after he was crowned the world’s tallest horse. He lived on Smokey Hollow Farm in Wisconsin and weighed an astounding 240 pounds. He was so large that he needed to be fed two hay bales per day and was even transported in a semi-trailer for his shows. Big Jake passed away in June 2021 at age 20, but he lives on through his legacy and the many people who have met him.
Big Jake was a gentle giant who was loved by everyone who came to see him at the farm. He was also a huge crowd favorite at the Wisconsin State Fair. Big Jake was a Belgian draft horse, which is a breed known for its strength and size. The average Belgian draft horse is around 19 hands and weighs 2,000 pounds. While Big Jake was well above the average size of a Belgian draft horse, he wasn’t as tall as a full-grown Shire, which can reach up to 21.2 hands in height and weigh over 3,300 pounds.
In order to determine how tall a horse is, it’s important to understand how the measurement of hand is used. The term “hand” was derived from the way in which a king would hold his scepter. Each finger of a human hand is approximately four inches long, so the scepter was held in the palm of the hand and the thumb was placed against the knuckle. This was a very accurate measurement. The word grew in popularity and in time, a system of measuring horses was developed. A horse is considered to be of a particular height when it is measured from the withers, which are the first stable and stationary part of the shoulder area, to the ground by the hooves.
When measuring a horse, it is not taken from the head because the head moves when a horse is walking and therefore is not an accurate measurement. A horse’s height is determined by the number of “hands” it is above the ground when standing in a square. This information is often recorded in a book or other record-keeping method and is used to compare the size of different horses.
The family of Big Jake mourns his passing and thanks everyone who visited the farm or watched him online in memory of this beloved equine. It is our hope that his legend will live on, just as it did for Sampson and Brookie, the two other renowned steeds who have held the title of tallest horse to ever live without me. Hopefully, we can see these magnificent creatures again someday and marvel at their incredible size. Until then, we will keep our heads up high and dream about these amazing giants!