Horses come in all appearances, shades, and sizes. They are commonly huge animals, but a Belgian horse named Big Jake is officially the tallest of them all. Belgian draft horses stand out from all the horse breeds by their tall height and distinctly muscular build. Commonly, they are favored to have a more standing shoulder, granting more upright movement and structure that is well adapted for pulling. They are favored to have wide, short backs with big hindquarters, again best suited for pulling. The 9-year-old Belgian gelding, one of 20 Belgian draft horses at Smokey Hollow Farm near Poynette, was doomed to be a big horse from the moment he was born when he weighed nearly 240 pounds, around 50 pounds heavier than the average newborn foal of his breed.
In January 2010, Jake and his owners made their request that he might be the tallest horse in the world. In front of many video and still cameras, Jake’s owners, handler and a veterinarian took three separate measures of his height from hoof (without shoes) to withers (the area between a horse’s shoulders and neck). The official measurement: 20 hands, 2.75 inches. The owners of Smokey Hollow Farm presented Jake’s measurements, and the documentation of how they were executed, to the administrators of “Guinness World Records” in England, hoping that Jake will replace a black-and-white Clydesdale in Texas, named Remington, as the world’s tallest living horse.
Remington’s height was verified at 80 inches, or exactly 20 hands, at the time that Guinness judges selected him the record-holder. Melissa Schrock, the co-owner of Smokey Hollow Farm, stated at the time that she didn’t know how quickly Guinness officials would prove whether Jake is, indeed, the world’s tallest. But he’d have the title completely, said Smokey Hollow Farm co-owner Jerry Gilbert, if Wisconsin State Fair visitants had a vote on the matter. Gilbert stated that Jake has been the favorite pick at the state fair’s livestock exhibits. Jake’s mass was one reason why Smokey Hollow Farm got him from a farm in Nebraska when he was just a few months old.
According to Schrock, his enrolled pedigree name is “Big Jake” because of his incredible size at birth. Schrock also said that Jake’s dam (mother) survived the birth and fed him until he was able to leave his mother and come to Smokey Hollow Farm. It was when Jake reached the age of around 7 or 8 that the family understood that he might be the tallest in the world. “We’ve had horses our whole lives, so we sort of had a good idea what he was,” Gilbert said. “But we aspired to finish showing him before we attracted a lot of attention to him.” Gilbert stated that people are often in fear of Jake when they visit him in person. “It’s very hard to determine from a picture truly how big he is, so people who come here, they’re just really in fear,” Gilbert declared.
“Even different horse people that are in the horse industry.” Jake’s handler, Rick Riemer, said Jake doesn’t eat much more than any other horse of his breed – about 40 pounds of hay and 4 gallons of oats per day, washed down with about 20 gallons of water. His weight is measured amid 2,400 and 2,500 pounds, depending on the period and how much of an exercise he gets. Smokey Hollow Farm uses a digital scale to estimate the weight of its horses – around 20 Belgians, plus some quarterhorse crossbreds and a miniature horse named Nemo.
“Jake’s got a great temperament, he’s very kind, he loves to play around, play with people’s hair, he’s got a very very good attitude. A lot of people don’t say anything, it takes them about 5 minutes to perceive how tall he really is. Although he’s got a lot of energy, he’s very humble, and he just loves the attention he gets all day long. He craves you to rub him, give him a bath, spend a lot of time with him,” Gilbert advanced, “You couldn’t ask for a better temperament in a horse than him.”
His exceptional height made him earn international fame. He carries the incredible majestic 20 hands 2.75 in (210.19 cm, 82.75 in) and formally became the Tallest horse living when he was measured on 19 January 2010. Since he won the Guinness World Records nine years ago, hundreds of visitants have gathered the Smokey Hollow Farm in Poynette, Wisconsin, USA to see the gorgeous horse with their own eyes.