Big Jake lived his life at Smokey Hollow Farm in Wisconsin, competing in driving pairs in the draft division,  entertaining at local fairs and events, and greeting guests at home on farm tours. Wherever he went his owner, Jerry Gilbert, says Big Jake made a big impact.

What made Big Jake remarkable was his size, an astonishing 6’10 ¾” (nearly 20.3 hands!) tall at the withers. The Belgian draft’s size was enough to land him in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s tallest living horse, a title he held for 11 years.

“Jake was just a special horse,” Gilbert told a media outlet. “He was truly a gentle giant. He knew he was special and whenever we would show him, people would be taken back by him by his size and everything.”

Gilbert said the relationship he had with his giant horse was also special. “It is amazing what we do for these animals because they are like our children. We care for them, we protect them, we are with them every single day,” said Gilbert.

Born in Nebraska, Big Jake was 240 lbs at birth, already much larger than the average 140-lb Belgian foal. When a relative bought the horse and he grew too big for them to handle, Gilbert brought him to Smokey Hollow. Gilbert spoke of how Big Jake enjoyed his daily snooze at 1:00 pm each day ‒ and along with the slumber came equally large snoring.

Big Jake’s stall will be kept empty and Gilbert plans to lay a brick on the outside of the stall with the horse’s photograph and name to commemorate him.

“Day to day, I think we will always feel that Jake is still here,” Gilbert told the reporter. “And I don’t think that will ever change.”