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The 7 Biggest Horses in History Are Ginormous!

the biggest horses

The 7 Biggest Horses in History Are Ginormous!

Key Points

  • Radar, a Belgian Draft, held the Guinness World Record for the largest horse in 2004, weighing 2,300 pounds and measuring 19.75 hands.
  • Morocco, a Percheron-Arabian Draft mix, weighed around 3,000 pounds and measured 21 hands, making him one of the biggest horses of yesteryear.
  • Dr. LeGear, a massive Percheron horse, weighed an incredible 2,995 pounds and measured 21 hands, making him one of the biggest horses to ever live.
  • Big Jake, a Belgian Draft, weighed in at 2,600 pounds and measured at 20 hands, residing at Smokey Hollow Farm in Poynette, Wisconsin.
  • Sampson, a Shire horse, weighed an incredible 3,360 pounds and measured 21.26 hands, making him the biggest horse to ever live.

What are the actual biggest horses in history? There are seven notable candidates, each with a fairly substantial size, allowing them to tower over their normal counterparts. If you’re an equestrian enthusiast wanting to learn a little more about horses, or rather the record holders when it comes to overall size, you’re in the right place. This guide covers some of the biggest horses to ever live.

Historically, horses have had an interesting role alongside mankind. They’ve served as a mode of transportation, constant companions on the farmyard, and as an apparatus of many armed forces. As you’ll see with some breeds, they were built for size, strength, and power alike.

The Biggest Horses Primer

There are certain breeds of horses that are larger than others. However, that doesn’t really account for the outliers. Breeds like the Clydesdale are renowned for their size and durability. While there is certainly at least one showing of a Clydesdale in this guide, there are some rather surprising entries as well.

Most of the horses covered are diverse, at least in terms of breed. This leads to rather shocking results, especially when considering breeds like the Arabian Draft are also present. That said, there are plenty of larger breeds intended for all sorts of work and play.

Understanding the Measurements

Before we dive in, it’s important to at least understand a bit about how horses are measured. When you see a measurement like “hands” used, that refers to 4 inches in height. As such, 20 hands would equal 80 inches or 7 feet and 8 inches.

Most of the horses featured will be measured in traditional pounds, especially as most of the largest horses to ever exist hail from the United States and the United Kingdom. At any rate, this should give a little understanding of some of the figures thrown around as you glance around this guide.

7. Radar

biggest horses
The Belgian Draft can be on the larger side as it is, so Radar is just a bit above average for the breed.
BreedBelgian Draft
Height19.75 hands
Weight2,300 pounds
Place of ResidenceMt. Pleasant, TX, USA

Radar was born originally in 1998, and currently resides in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. This Belgian Draft once held the Guinness World Record for the largest horse, a title he took in 2004. He held the title for another three years, until 2007.

At a fairly impressive 2,300 pounds and measuring 19.75 hands or 79 inches tall, he certainly made his owners and caretakers look quite small. Radar is a Belgian Draft, which ranks among the larger breeds of horses.

6. Morocco

biggest horses
The Arabian Draft, shown here, and Percheron made for a perfect blend for Morocco.
BreedPercheron-Arabian Draft
Height21 hands
Weight3,000 pounds
Place of ResidenceN/A

Morocco is one of the biggest horses of yesteryear. Not much is known about the place of origin of this magnificent animal, but it is known that he was a mix between a Percheron and an Arabian Draft. Morocco was quite a sizable horse, weighing around 3,000 pounds and measuring 21 hands.

Percheron horses as a whole were bred for military use, so it makes sense that one of the biggest horses in history has that as part of its heritage. Morocco would be displayed at the St. Louis World Fair and later Coney Island. Arabian Draft horses are a sturdy breed of horse, but not one particularly known for their massive size.

At any rate, the blend seemed to work quite well when considering the overall size of Morocco. The photos circulating of his magnificent animal certainly let you know how much he towered over his owner and handlers.

5. Dr. LeGear

Biggest horses
Percheron horses can be quite large, much like Dr. LeGear

,

who stood 21 hands tall.
BreedPercheron
Height21 hands
Weight2,995 pounds
Place of ResidenceSt. Louis, MO, USA

Dr. LeGear hails from the same farm as another noteworthy horse that will be covered a little later on, King LeGear. Measuring in at 21 hands, Dr. LeGear was one massive Percheron horse. He weighed an incredible 2,995 pounds, making this one of the biggest horses to ever live.

Dr. LeGear was owned by Dr. L.D. LeGear, a Missouri-based businessman who ran a farm and veterinary company. It seems raising massive horses was just another hobby for this Renaissance man.

4. Goliath

huge white percheron draft horse
Goliath is a little larger than an average Percheron, shown above, which still makes for an impressively large horse.
BreedPercheron
Height19.1 hands
Weight2,500 pounds
Place of ResidenceMt. Pleasant, TX, USA

Goliath is another Guinness World Record holder. Measuring 19.1 hands and 2,500 pounds, it isn’t hard to see how he qualified as one of the biggest horses in the world. Like Radar, Goliath hails from the same farm in Mount Pleasant, Texas.

That Texan farm must have something special happening, given it produced two absolutely massive horses that have both held the world record. Goliath is a Percheron, which makes for our third in a row when discussing these animals.

3. King LeGear

Biggest horses
King LeGear was a massive Clydesdale horse. The Clydesdale breed in the image above is a type of heavy draft horse originating in Scotland.
BreedClydesdale
Height21 hands
Weight2950 pounds
Place of ResidenceSt. Louis, MO, USA

This is our first Clydesdale on the list, and he’s an awfully famous one at that. King LeGear is one of the biggest horses to live, and he is celebrated among horse enthusiasts. This massive Clydesdale measured in at 21 hands and weighed 2,950 pounds.

Like Dr. LeGear, King LeGear hails from the same farm owned by the decidedly human Dr. L.D. Gear out of St. Louis, MO. Who’s to say that Dr. LeGear’s true calling wasn’t raising some absolutely massive horses to set world records during his off-hours? At any rate, one of the biggest horses is quite a feat, but raising two well over 2,500 pounds is incredible.

2. Big Jake

BreedBelgian Draft
Height20 hands
Weight2,600 pounds
Place of ResidencePoynette, Wisconsin, USA

Big Jake certainly lives up to his name. This Belgian Draft weighed in at 2,600 pounds and measured at 20 hands. Big Jake currently resides at Smokey Hollow Farm in Poynette, Wisconsin. As one of the biggest horses in the world, he’s certainly got an appetite to match.

His owner claims this massive animal eats up to two times as much food on a daily basis as your normal Belgian Draft horse. That certainly runs up quite the food bill when looking at monthly costs, but by all accounts, Big Jake is a big softy and a friend to all.

1. Sampson

biggest horses
This image is believed to depict Sampson/Mammoth, the largest horse on record.
BreedShire
Height21.26 hands
Weight3,360 pounds
Place of ResidenceBedfordshire, England

Rounding off our list is Sampson, the biggest horse to ever live. A Shire horse, Sampson was certainly one of a kind. This massive horse resided in Bedfordshire, England, and was born in 1846. He weighed an incredible 3,360 pounds and measured 21.26 hands, making him larger than all of the horses on this list.

Sampson was suitably renamed Mammoth later in life when he was around four years of age. The name would stick for the rest of his life. Shire horses are a rarer breed and one that was almost driven to absolute extinction in the wake of the Second World War. As a breed intended to replace oxen on the farmyard, it comes as no surprise that Sampson is the biggest horse to ever live.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are horses measured in hands and not feet or meters?

Measuring by hand is a practice that dates back to the Middle Ages. It predates any standard unit of measurement in common use today. Using the span of space between the thumb and index finger gave a roughly equal measurement before more precise instruments were available.

How are horses measured?

They are measured from their feet to their withers or the equivalent of the shoulder on the animal. As such, a 20-hand horse could be substantially larger than it first appears when accounting for the neck and head of the animal.

What are draft horses used for?

A draft horse usually denotes an animal intended for farm work. Draft horses still enjoy constant use in areas where a tractor might be wasteful, or on more eco-friendly homesteads.

What is the biggest breed?

It’s a toss-up between the Clydesdale and Percheron when looking at overall height and weight. Really, any of the draft breeds could qualify, given their overall size and intended use.

What was the Percheron bred for originally?

The Percheron breed of horses was intended for use in the military, especially when hauling great wagons of food and equipment in the pre-industrial era.

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