Last Updated on December 2, 2021
Percheron horses are one of the most beautiful large horse breeds and have many fans around the world. These magnificent giant horses are not only incredibly tall but are also very elegant and have a gentle nature. But how big is the tallest Percheron horse in the world?
Let’s find out all about the amazing Percheron horse!
What Is A Percheron Horse?
The Percheron horse is a type of horse called a draft horse. A draft horse is a large and strong breed, traditionally used for farm work and pulling heavy loads. In modern times you are more likely to see a Percheron at a farm park or horse show than pulling a plow!
The Percheron horse breed originates from France and was first bred for use as a warhorse in the 17th century. However, this breed soon became popular with farm owners and haulers, and before long the fame of the Percheron started to spread around the world. By the 19th century, Percherons were being shipped around the world, to as far afield as the United States.
The reason for the popularity of the Percheron draft horse is that it is bred to be lighter and more athletic than other draft breeds. This is due to the influence of bloodlines including the delicate and lightweight Arabian horse. The Percheron horse has retained the size and stature of a draft horse, with an elegant and refined appearance.
Percheron horses have a proud stance and flashy movement. Their legs are not as feathered as other draft breeds, but they do have the same characteristic thick mane and tail.
Although Percheron horses are more refined than other draft breeds, they are certainly not lightweights! They have a thick-set body with a wide chest and powerful hindquarters. The long legs are muscular and powerful, with a wide range of movement.
The Arabian bloodlines of the Percheron mean that they are somewhat livelier and quicker-thinking than other draft breeds. They enjoy the company of people and are eager to please, making them easy to train.
How Are Horses Measured?
Like many things in the equine world, the way horses are measured is not straightforward! You will never hear the height of a horse referred to in feet and inches, or meters and centimeters. The measurement of a horse’s height is described in hands and is a tradition that dates back many centuries.
In the past, it was necessary to find an accurate and standardized method of measuring horses. Measuring sticks were not easily available, and so the method of measuring in hands was devised.
A measurement of one hand is equal to four inches, and this is the width of the average male hand! This meant that anyone could measure a horse and get a fairly accurate figure. The height of a horse is always stated in the number of hands and inches.
The second problem was finding a standardized point at which horses would be measured. If we measured the height of a horse at the head then the height would change constantly as the horse moved its neck. Other points of the body such as the rump and the saddle area can also fluctuate in height.
For this reason, horses are always measured to the point of the withers. The withers are at the base of the neck, just in front of where the saddle lies. When a horse is ‘stood square’ – with its front legs side by side – this height will always be the same.
Measuring horses accurately is important, as some competition classes are only open to horses above or below a certain height. It is common practice to get horses and ponies officially measured to obtain a height certificate.
How Tall Are Percheron Horses?
So, if Percheron horses are not as heavily built as other draft breeds, does this mean they are not as tall?
Absolutely not! Although they are not as tall as Shire horses or Clydesdale horses, these gentle giants are still pretty huge.
The average height of a Percheron horse is between 16.2 and 17.3 hands high.
Percheron geldings tend to be taller than mares, and stallions are the tallest of all.
Occasionally you will come across a Percheron horse which is taller than the average height. Some of these are very famous, so let’s find out who was the tallest Percheron horse in the world is!
How Tall Is The Biggest Percheron Horse?
Unfortunately, there are no records currently available to tell us who the tallest living Percheron horse in the world is. However, there have been some record-breaking Percheron horses in the past when it comes to height.
Here are the two tallest Percheron horses on record:
- Dr. LeGear
Dr. LeGear was a Percheron gelding from the United States. In 1915 he was advertised as the tallest horse in the world, measuring an enormous 21 hands high. Reported to weigh 2,995 pounds, this magnificent equine really was a king among horses!
Morocco was a famous Percheron horse in the early 1900s. This giant horse, measuring 21.2 hands high, toured American fairs and parks as an exhibit. Despite his huge size, Morocco was described as being ‘as playful as a kitten!
Who Is The Worlds Tallest Horse?
Until recently, the title for the world’s tallest living horse was held by Big Jake, a Belgian draft horse gelding. This huge horse was officially measured at 20.2¾ hands high, earning him a place in the Guinness Book Of Records.
Unfortunately Big Jake has since passed away, and no other contender has stepped forward to take his place.
How Tall Was The Tallest Horse Ever?
The tallest horse ever was a Shire horse gelding called Samson. Later renamed Mammoth, Samson was born in the UK in 1846 and his adult height was measured at 21.2 ½ hands high. Samson has held the Guinness Book Of Records title for the tallest horse on record ever since.
So, as we have learned, the tallest Percheron horse on record was 21.2 hands high, just half an inch smaller than the tallest horse ever!
We’d love to hear your thoughts about the tallest Percheron horse in the world. Have you ever met one of these magnificent horses? Please add a comment below!
Learn more about Measuring An English Saddle.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then wenton to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE