Horses have been carefully developed into over 600 breeds for a variety of uses over thousands of years.
Humans have come to admire some of the largest horse breeds in the world because of their magnificent look and extraordinary power.
These huge types of horses were once bred to pull carts, labour on farms, and move heavy loads. These animals were invaluable assets to civilization because of their kind disposition and extraordinary work ethic.
Even while the breeds of draught horses were already rather large, it wasn’t until the 1800s that these horses started to become extremely large.
Regrettably, the waning demand for huge horse breeds caused a decline in their population over the 20th century. However, in order to maintain and safeguard these gentle giants, conservation measures are still underway.
Which horse in history is the largest?
Sampson, a Shire horse, was the largest horse in history, measuring a staggering 21.25 hands (7 feet 2.5 inches) and weighing 3,360 lb (1,524 kg). Sampson was the tallest and heaviest horse in history, with amazing stats.
Born in Bedfordshire, England, in 1846, Sampson was given the moniker Mammoth at the age of four, when he was already seven feet two inches tall.
If this well-known giant hadn’t been gelded at the age of 1.5, he may have accomplished even more astounding feats.
Sampson’s record as the largest horse to have ever lived is likely to endure indefinitely in the Guinness World Records. But since then, a few horses have approached his remarkable stature.
Largest Horses Ever Recorded
In addition to Sampson, a few more horses achieved historical recognition for exceeding the typical stature of their breed.
Meet the well-known horses who amazed audiences with their enormous size and powerful gaits!
Prior to his untimely demise in 2021, Big Jake, a Belgian Draught, was recognised as the tallest horse alive. At a massive 20 hands 2.75 inches, the chestnut gelding weighed 1,179 kg (2,600 pounds).
Big Jake was born weighing 240 pounds (109 kg) in 2001. 2010 saw him get his Guinness World Records title, which he proudly wore for the next ten years.
But Jake was more than a decoration at his Nebraska house. The gelding participated in draught horse contests on a regular basis, pulling carriages as a team of four to six horses. Before retiring in 2013, he made several appearances at Wisconsin State Farm, where he entertained sizable audiences.
Jake had a 20 by 20 foot stall all to himself at home, which is about double the size of a typical stall. How much a horse of size must consume is beyond the imagination!
Dr. LeGear, a Percheron gelding, was regarded as the tallest horse in history, standing at an astounding 21 hands and weighing 2,995 pounds (1359 kg).
Dr. L. D. LeGear, who operated a veterinary pharmaceutical firm in the early 1900s, was the horse’s owner. Records state that the Percheron gelding had ideal proportions and was a stunning shade of dapple seal brown. In 1913, his estimated worth was $25,000. (Source: ipernity).
Undoubtedly the biggest horse of his day, Brooklyn Supreme weighed an incredible 3,200 pounds (1,450 kg). The Belgian Draught had the biggest heart girth on record, measuring 10 ft 2 in (3.10 m), and reached 19.2 hands tall.
Brooklyn Supreme far beyond the average weight for his breed at around 1.5 tonnes. Male Belgian draughts are somewhat heavier than females, with an average weight of 2,000 pounds (907 kg).
In addition to his enormous stature, Brooklyn Supreme had enormous feet. Unheard of in the modern horse world, each of his horseshoes was fashioned from a 30-inch-long iron bar.
Of course, the magnificent horse soon gained national notoriety. His owner charged 10 cents to see the famous horse, Brooklyn Supreme, while it was on display around the country.
To find out more, see our article on Brooklyn Supreme.
At a horse exhibition, Goliath, a black Percheron gelding, is positioned next to a horse trailer.
Goliath held the Guinness record for the tallest live horse in 2005, standing at 19.1 hands. Documents also show that the black Percheron gelding weighed an impressive 2,500 pounds (1,134 kg).
In Mount Pleasant, Texas, near the Priefert Ranch, stood Goliath’s residence. He travelled the country year-round with five other Percherons, making appearances at parades, rodeos, fairs, and other events.
Goliath passed away tragically in 2014, and his family held a unique memorial service to celebrate his life. Jeff Rash, one of his caretakers, told Horse and Hound:
“He was more than simply a horse; he was more than a gentle giant and a world record holder. He had a pure, modest, and loving heart.
The Top 10 Largest Horse Breeds Worldwide
The Clydesdale, Percheron, Belgian Draught, and Shire are the four largest horse breeds in the world. These equine varieties have a maximum height of 18 to 19 hands and an average weight of 1,800–2,200 pounds (800–1,000 kg).
In addition to their astounding size, the biggest horse breeds in the world are renowned for their unfathomable strength.
A single Shire horse created history in 1924 when it pulled 58,000 pounds, or more than 26 tonnes! That accomplishment has never been surpassed!
- American Cream Draught (15.1–16.3 hands in height)
A pasture full of American Cream Draught horses grazing
The only recognised draught horse breed developed in the US is the American Cream Draught. It is a medium-sized draught breed, standing at 15.1 to 16.3 hands and weighing 1,600 to 1,800 pounds (725 to 816 kg).
The American Cream Draught, as its name implies, is most well-known for the colour of its cream coat. Together with its amber eyes and pink skin, the breed’s official name, gold champagne, contributes to its distinctive look.
Even though they are beautiful and well-liked in the US, American Cream Draught horses remain a scarce breed. The status of the breed is vital, according to both the Equus Survival Trust and the Livestock Conservancy.
- Boulonnais (15.1–17 hands in height)
Boulonnais horse wearing a bridle in a spacious ménage
The average height and weight of the French draught horse breed, the Boulonnais, are 15.1 to 17 hands (1,250 to 1,650 pounds; 567 to 748 kg). Although the majority of Boulonnais horses are grey in colour, there are an increasing number of black and chestnut Boulonnais in the breed.
Some historians assert that Julius Caesar’s military horses are the ancestors of the Boulonnais. The breed’s current look was developed by the infusion of Spanish, Arabian, and Barb blood in the 17th century.
There are now several different kinds of Boulonnais horses, mostly distinguished by size and function. The smaller varieties pulled carts from Boulogne to Paris, while the bigger ones worked in the countryside and in urban areas, doing heavy drafting.
- Friesian (15.3–17 hands in height)
A black Friesian horse galloping over a pasture
Friesians are native to the Netherlands and range in height from 15.3 to 17 hands. These magnificent black horses are being used for jousting and reenactment nowadays. They were common military horses in the Middle Ages.
Despite being classified as warmbloods, Friesians resemble normal riding horses in height and build. This is because the breed inherited its strong bones and pulling strength from their heritage as draught horses. At an average weight of 1,200 to 1,400 pounds (545 to 635 kg), they are also bigger than the majority of riding horses.
Friesians are graceful and elegant for their size at the same time. These horses are a popular option for dressage and driving because to their dazzling look and high knee motion.
While the majority of Friesians are black by nature, chestnut may also occur sometimes. The breed is used for displaying, parades, and even movies in addition to driving and riding!
- Dutch Draught (15–17 hands in height)
Standing in a rural horse pasture in the Dutch province of Zealand’s Sint Philipsland is a Dutch Draught horse.
After World War I, unions between Ardennes and Belgian Draught horses gave rise to a relatively new horse breed known as the Dutch Draught. It was formerly a well-liked breed for severe draught labour and agriculture in the Groningen and Zeeland provinces.
But after a severe population fall brought on by World War II, the Dutch Draught became an endangered breed of horse.
Unquestionably one of the strongest horse breeds, Dutch Draughts are often seen participating in horse-drawn ploughing competitions or pulling competitions. The Dutch Draught is shorter than other draught breeds, standing between 15 and 17 hands at the withers, despite its power.
The Dutch Draught is shorter than other draught breeds, standing between 15 and 17 hands at the withers, despite its power. In the meanwhile, their combined weight is between 1,550 and 1,650 pounds (700 and 750 kg).
- Suffolk Punch (16.1-27.2 hands in height)
Heartland Suffolk Punch horse galloping across a rural English pasture
One of the tallest and oldest horse breeds in Britain is the Suffolk Punch. These historic horses weigh between 1,600 and 2,000 pounds (725 and 900 kg) and have a chestnut coloration. They stand between 16.1 and 17.2 hands.
The Suffolk Punch hasn’t altered all that much since it first started. The Haflinger horse and many mountain and moorland pony types in Britain are closely related to this breed.
Today, Suffolk Punch horses are in high demand for advertising, agricultural labour, and forestry, partly because of their remarkable beauty.
Regretfully, the Suffolk Punch is one of the rarest horse breeds in existence. A small number of Suffolk Punch breeding operations survive in Britain, in part because of World War II-related genetic bottlenecks and losses.
- Australian Draught 162-17.2 hands in height
Two plough-pulling Australian draught horses
The Australian Draught is a relatively new document, much like the Dutch Draught. It was created from several big horse breeds, including the Suffolk Punch, Clydesdale, Percheron, and Shire. However, it wasn’t officially recognised as a breed until 1976.
The Australian Draught has a stature of 16.2 to 17.2 hands and is available in all solid colours. The register admits bigger horses, albeit these horses usually weigh between 1,300 and 1,900 pounds (600 and 900 kg).
Prominent in ploughing and harness races, the Australian Draught swiftly rose to prominence as the predominant breed of draught horse in its homeland. Despite the fact that many are not formally recognised, they nevertheless exhibit the breed’s common traits.
- Belgian Draught (16.1-48 hands in height)
Lovely Belgian Draught horse strolling in a field at dusk in the summer
The Belgian Draught was formerly the same breed as the Brabant, but during World War II, it split off to become its own breed. These horses are striking and strong, usually having flaxen manes and tails and a chestnut colour.
A typical Belgian Draught weighs around 2,200 pounds (1,000 kgs) and stands between 16.1 and 18 hands. The breed possesses a great deal of physical strength because of its sheer size and strong bones. It was allegedly reported that two Belgian Draught horses could pull more than 7,700 kg (17,000 pounds).
Belgian Draughts are still widely employed for recreational riding in addition to hard agricultural and forestry labour. Fortunately, this breed is not in danger of becoming extinct like other draught horses.
- Percheron (15.1–19 hands in height)
In an autumnal landscape, a brown Percheron stallion with an exquisite mane and halter
The Huisne river valley is home to the French draught breed known as Percheron. This huge horse breed ranges in height from 15.1 hands to 19 hands, a wide range of sizes. Although they may reach up to 2,600 pounds (1,200 kg), Percherons typically weigh 1,900 pounds (860 kg).
Percherons have a strong Arabian horse influence, in contrast to other draught breeds. This was the outcome of the breed’s 19th-century introduction of Arabian genes. The Percheron’s elegant head, thin neck, and athletic frame are obvious examples of its eastern influence.
Percherons are a popular option for driving, parades, and exhibition since they are descended from the Middle Ages fighting horses. Furthermore, they are excellent horses for heavier riders due to their huge stature and calm disposition.
Clydesdale 2. (16–18 hands tall)
A guy is holding a Clydesdale horse at a horse show paddock.
One of the most well-known draught breeds in the world today is the Clydesdale, in part because of its appearance in Budweiser advertising. Originating in Scotland, the breed underwent significant morphological and skeletal changes in the 20th century.
Clydesdales must weigh between 800 and 2,000 pounds (820 and 910 kg) and be between 16 and 18 hands in order to meet the current breed standard. Many horses, nevertheless, outgrow these specifications.
King LeGear, a Clydesdale, for instance, weighed 2,950 pounds (1338 kg) and measured a staggering 20.5 hands. He was one of the largest horses in history due to his enormous size.
Clydesdales are still used for draught labour in forestry, agriculture, and other fields because they are lively, showy, and kind. Because of their exquisite looks and feathered hooves, they also make excellent parade, carriage, and show horses.
- Shire (17–19 hands in height)
Standing in an English field is a black Shire horse with braided mane and white feet covered in feathers.
The largest horse breed in the world is the shire. These enormous horses weigh between 1,800 and 2,400 pounds (820 and 1,100 kg) and range in height from 17 to 19 hands.
Shire horses, which date back to mediaeval England, were carefully selected for use in farms and industries. Historically, they have mobilised large ploughs and other machinery, dragged carts and brewer’s drays, and carried barges along canal networks.
Regrettably, the mechanisation of agriculture and World War II have caused the number of Shire horses to decline to almost extinct levels. However, the breed has only recently begun to steadily rebound, mostly due to organisations like the American Shire Horse Association.
Shire horses are mostly used for driving, displaying, and forestry nowadays. They are regarded as one of the greatest horse breeds for larger riders and make excellent companion and recreational horses.