What is the tallest horse in the world?

A giant horse can be pretty formidable and will tower over you from ears to hoof. What is the tallest horse in the world, and what horse breeds tower above the rest?

There are many tall horses in the world, but the Shire horse takes the ticket!
There are many tall horses in the world, but the Shire horse takes the ticket!  © IMAGO / Imagebroker (left) & IMAGO / Gemini Collection (right) & TAG24 Edit

The hoof of a horse is one of the strongest things you can encounter. And when its snout towers above your head, the fear can get pretty real. Giant horses aren't just about girth and length, but also about height. Indeed, the higher a horse, the harder to house and transport it, and the more impressive it becomes.

So, who holds the animal record for tallest horse in the world, and which horse breeds are taller than their counterparts? Let's dive into some of the most impressive beasts on planet Earth...

This is the tallest horse in the world!

The tallest horse ever recorded was an immense Shire Stallion named Sampson. This mammoth of a horse grew to be a rather unexpected size. Part of a breed of horse known to have been used throughout history for hard manual labor, Sampson was so big that he could have easily completed any task put in his way.

Here are a few of Sampson's main characteristics:

  • Breed: Shire Horse
  • Origin: Great Britain
  • Height: >7 feet
  • Weight: >1.2 tons
  • Coat color: Black, white, and brown

Sampson was born in 1846 and was known as Mammoth to many of his owners due to his immense size and weight. He was a Shire horse gelding who spent his days at Toddington Mills in Bedfordshire, England.

How tall is the tallest horse in the world?

Sampson, the largest horse in the world, had a height of about 7-foot-2, and weighed in at more than 1.2 tons. That means that this giant four-hoofed creature weighed more than a car and was quite a lot taller as well. It is not such a surprise, though, that Sampson is a Shire horse, as you are about to find out...

Fun fact: Horses are usually measured in hands. This is a practice dating back thousands of years, even before the invention of the imperial system (feet, inches, etc.). People needed to be able to measure and determine the size and therefore value of a horse, so they invented a way of measuring them.

Tallest horse breed in the world

The tallest horse breed in the world is the Shire horse, commonly referred to as "gentle giants" in their native Britain. They are absolutely huge, often weighing over a ton and towering 6–7 feet about the ground from ears to hoof. They have an extremely gentle nature, hence their nickname, and are characterized as balanced, reliable, and extremely trusting of their riders.

As a result of these characteristics, the Shire horse has been a favorite of equestrians for many years, but have also been used as work horses for hundreds of years. They are extremely muscular and can carry or pull heavy loads. Before the advent of the tractor, they would often be used to plow fields and pull very weighty carriages.

Shire horses are also known for more than just their extraordinary height, as they have incredibly iconic hoofs, as well. While most Shire stallions have black, brown, or gray hair, their feet are incredibly fluffy and usually a bright white.

Shire horses are the biggest horses in the world, and they're incredibly strong, too!
Shire horses are the biggest horses in the world, and they're incredibly strong, too!  © 123RF / Daseaford

Other tall horse breeds

There are many different horse breeds, and many are extremely strong but not particularly tall or towering. While not all strong horses are tall, most tall horses are very strong. As a result, most of these horses are incredibly powerful and were used for hard labor back in the day.

Here are a few of the tallest horse breeds in the world:

  • Dutch draft
  • Clydesdale
  • Shire horse
  • Belgian draft
  • Percheron
  • Thoroughbred
  • Hanoverian
  • Dutch Warmblood
  • Swedish Warmblood
  • Westphalian

The tallest horse is one intimidating fellow!

Shire horses like Noddy can tower above you and look rather scary when you come (literally) face-to-face with them. That fright you feel, though, is more logical than it may seem. In Australia, a country famous for its extraordinarily dangerous animals, the animal that kills the most people is actually the humble horse. In other words, if you feel scared – it makes sense!

All of this being said, tall horses are not violent beasts and will not attack you. They are pretty safe (especially if it has been well-trained and socialized), it's just that people don't generally get killed by animals anymore!

Cover photo: IMAGO / Imagebroker (left) & IMAGO / Gemini Collection (right) & TAG24 Edit

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