Winter Scene ~ One Horse Open Sleigh

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Photo ~ Belgian Horse Team In The Snow

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Big Jake ~ Tallest Horse In The World

Big Jake has made it into the Guinness World Records Book for 2013 as the tallest living horse.

Big Jake stands an official six feet, ten and three-quarter inches tall.  In horse world talk, he is 20 hands, two and three-quarter inches.  He weighs in at 2,600 pounds.

His owner, Jerry Gilbert, says that even though Big Jake is taller than any other horse in the world, he is a gentle giant.

Big Jake was born big.

The Belgian horse weighed 240 pounds at birth. This is about 50 pounds above the average for his breed.

Born in Nebraska, Big Jake came to Smokey Hollow Farm in Poynette, Wisconsin as soon as he was weaned from his mother.

In time, it was decided that due to Big Jake’s unusual size, Smokey Hollow Farm wanted to explore the possibility of Big Jake holding the world’s record.

At the time, the record belonged to a Clydesdale in Texas named Remington, whose official measurement was exactly 20 hands.

The process of documentation for Big Jake began in January of 2010. Smokey Hollow Farm obtained the guidelines from Guinness World Records needed to compete for this record.

They compiled the evidence according to the strict Guinness rules.  The local media and community officials witnessed the measuring of Big Jake.

With numerous video cameras rolling, the official measurement was taken of Jake to determine whether he could claim the Guinness record as the world’s tallest horse.

Big Jake measured in at 20 hands 2.75 inches without shoes. The two and three-quarter inches made him eligible for the world’s record.

After being certified by the Guinness World Records, it became official.

Jerry Gilbert said a certificate from Guinness World Records in England arrived at the farm by express delivery late March, 2010. At the time of the official measurements,  Big Jake was nine years old.

The announcement that Big Jake was the world’s tallest living horse was made during the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, Wisconsin, one of the biggest equestrian events in the nation.

Big Jake was named the World’s Tallest Living Horse in 2010 and 2011. He was officially listed in the Guinness World Record Book September 2013 as the tallest living horse in the world.

In the meantime, Big Jake has been a member of the Smokey Hollow Farm hitch. He is a hitch horse in the right wheel of the show wagon. He has been driven every other day as a team with another horse to stay in shape.

“We want Jake to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That’s what’s important to us,” Gilbert said. Big Jake is kept on a healthy diet, consuming 1 1/2 bales of hay and 40 quarts of oats per day.

Jerry says, “He is friendly with all the other animals and has a great temperament and works hard when he is harnessed to a wagon.”

As for Big Jake’s accommodations,  Jerry says, “Everything has to be big. His stall is 20X20 feet when an average stall is about 12X12 feet. When we transport him we have to use a semi-trailer.”

Shown with miniature stallion, Nemo

Jerry Gilbert has shown Big Jake as a draft horse in four-or six-horse hitches.

As a celebrity, Big Jake has a huge following.  According to Gilbert, the big Belgian is good with people and people are astonished when they see how big he is.

At the MidWest Horse Fair

“We are proud to hold the record and enjoy the people who visit the farm,” said Jerry. “We enjoy the reactions and when people leave our farm happy from the experience of seeing Jake.”

Jerry Gilbert says they use Big Ben’s size for a good cause by helping to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charity.

“We know various people who have had to use the Ronald McDonald House and because it helps the whole family of sick children it is very dear to our hearts,” Jerry Gilbert said.

So … what is next for Smokey Hollow Farm?

Well, as far as Jerry Gilbert knows, the Guinness World Records has never documented the world’s tallest team of horses.

Smokey Hollow Farm just happens to have another big Belgian horse … Almighty Bruce.

Almighty Bruce, like Big Jake, was big from birth.  He is slightly shorter than Big Jake, but outweighs Big Jake by about 250 pounds.  He is the same age as Big Jake.

Those at Smokey Hollow Farms say that it is rare for one farm to have two horses that are more than 20 hands tall.

Smokey Hollow Farm is, again, back to doing their measurements, this time for the tallest team. They are filing papers with the Guinness World Records in England for Big Jake and Almighty Bruce.

It is possible Smokey Hollow Farms just might garner their second world record with the two giant Belgians – to claim the world’s tallest horse team

While we are on standby for Big Jake and Almighty Bruce, we cheer Big Jake for making it into the Guinness World Records Book for 2013 as the tallest horse in the world.




Link: Smokey Hollow Farm

Link:  Midwest Horse Fair

Link: Ronald McDonald House Charity

Re-written from news sources:
Guinness World Records
Portage,  Wisconsin Daily Register
NBC News

Earlier Post About Tina
Tina, The Tallest Horse In The World 2008

Save Gas ~ Ride A Horse! *Check Out Honest John’s New And Used Horses*

Thelwell Pony


Alright folks, step right up!

I can save you money on gas!

You don’t want to pay $4.69 for gas, no problem.

I have the perfect vehicle for you. Needs no gas, no oil, or even a battery, just a little grass and water will do these animals fine.

Now everyone has different needs, so choose from the following models:

Trail Horse
Your average run around town animal. Has the energy to get where you are going, the brain to find the best way to go, big enough to carry the normal sized American.

The Arabian
Perfect for those who travel long distances in a day and try to multi task while driving. Although the Arabian may not go to your home or office without specific instruction, it WILL go somewhere.

The Draft
Calling all soccer moms. This big guy can carry the whole team, their gear and snacks. Just like the big machines, this guy will require more fuel, and his shoes will be more expensive than the compact model.

The Western Pleasure
The right car for the high end white collar workers. This animal works harder and requires more special knowledge so only the best can figure this out. Be sure to take your cell phone. You won’t be stuck in traffic, you just won’t be getting anywhere fast.

The Parelli
Salesmen, stay at home moms, and high school kids will all enjoy this dream. You can load him down with flapping Wal-mart bags, ask him to walk in places a horse won’t fit, and you can dance with him as you listen to the latest tunes.

The Ranch
The most dependable animal available. He will go where ever you ask him to, at whatever speed is appropriate. You can tie him to the stop sign and he will be there when you get back. Best of all, this model has been specially engineered to be able to go without water for days and stay fat and slick by eating sagebrush and dead prairie grass.


Of course all models are available in base colors (sorrel, bay, black) Special order colors are available (dun, gray, palomino) and for an additional fee, custom paint jobs are also available (overo, tobiano, blanket, leopard).

No horse is sold with a warranty, however maintenance plans are available in the event brakes, steering, or accelerator fail.


Now’s your chance!  Shop early!
Gas prices are going up!

Hurry while supplies last!

Horses Help Farmers Cut Fuel Costs


Jeff Johns furrows another row with agricultural relic,
a horse-drawn steel plow


Jeff Johns of Lonesome Valley Farms in Pennsylvania had the horses. He had land that needed to be plowed. And he had worries that rising fuel costs would eat into his already thin profit margin.

So he’s doing what farmers did long before the tractor came along — he’s using his two draft horses to power a plow.

And he’s loving every minute of it.

Johns said, “It’s something about getting behind that team of horses that slows life down to the way it ought to be.”

Johns is joining the ranks of a growing number of farmers who are cutting fuel costs by going back in time.

In 1900, farmers relied completely on animal power. There were 21.6 million work animals used on American farms then, according to a 2005 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.

With mechanization came change. By 1960, the last year the government kept statistics, only 3 million horses and mules were being used for farm work. The rest had been replaced by 4.7 million tractors used at that time.

However, due to the rising cost of fuel, work animals are making a comeback.

Johns bought a ride-on plow from an Amish equipment dealer over the winter with the idea that he was going to use his two male draft horses — Arley and Star — to plow.

He’s already used draft horses for years for hayrides and carriage rides.

“We figured we’d plow as much as we can with the horses this spring because that’s less fuel we have to pay for,” Johns said.

“Every furrow I can turn with those horses helps,” he said.

The Amish have always had a special relationship between their horses and the cultivation of the earth.

 Another Pennsylvania farmer, Burt Mulhollem, says using horses just makes sense.

“If I was to go out and work my tractor hard all day long, it would cost me $100, and I don’t have it,” Mulhollem said.

“I have the horses here so I may as well use them, and that don’t cost me nothing because I’ve got them here anyhow. And they give me manure back for the ground.”

Other farmers, particularly those who already have horses and mules, are expected to join him.



Re-written from Pittsburgh Tribune

What If Your Horse Is Stolen?


Debi Metcalfe reunited with
her stolen horse “Idaho”.


If your horse is stolen go directly to:
Stolen Horse International at


A Shelby, North Carolina  woman
has made it her mission to find stolen horses.

Debi Metcalfe and her husband, Harold, lost a family member. Their horse, Idaho, was horse-napped, in broad day light from their pasture.

A year later, they found Idaho in Tennessee.

This is how Stolen Horse International and was born and has now celebrated over 10 years of success.

The website has Idaho Alerts which are similar to AMBER Alerts for missing children where members are alerted when a horse, tack or even trailers are stolen.

An estimated 40,000 horses are stolen each year in the United States.

During the Metcalfes’ search, someone set up a Web space for the couple and after finding their horse, they decided to help out other people on the Web. That’s how her site was started.

“We got so much help, I thought I owed it back,” she said.

Since founding her organization, Debi has written a book and been part of television news stories, newspaper and magazine articles and her expertise was used on Fox’s “America’s Most Wanted” in August.

She appeared as the cover story on The Gaited Horse magazine in an edition that sold out and was most recently featured on “Weekend America,” a Public Broadcasting radio show.

We do a lot more than stolen horses,” Debi said. “That’s how we were started, but we do so much more now.”

Her priority is working with people whose horses are missing first. That comes ahead of fundraising and other functions.

“We try to stress that even if the horse is not found alive and well, it’s better to know than have questions,” she said.

Inspiration … Debi has empathy for the people she helps.

On the NetPosse site is a list of stolen or missing horses across the United States. Also included are photos, dates and current status.

Below are just two of the many horses that have been stolen. 
For complete listings:  Click here:


Stolen:  LPS Mr. Jalapeno
Bay Morgan Gelding Missing in California suspected to be in Arizona – Feb. 6, 2007


Fleabitten Grey Arabian Gelding Stolen after dark from Therapy Progam in Newton County, Georgia – Feb. 3, 2008


If you have a horse that has been stolen or strangely disappeared, do not hesitate.  Contact immediately.

If you recognize the horses pictured above, click on the name of the horse for more information.

It takes everyone working together to keep our horses safe and in their own homes.


Gentle Owner Trains Huge Horses With Great Heart


Ray Powell of New Castle, Kentucky speaks to a 5,000-pound team of young Belgian pulling horses with the gentleness of a violin teacher on the first day of lessons with a 6-year old.

“They hear a lot more than you think they do when you’re foolin’ with them,” said Powell. “I’ll get awful close to them, and they’ll get close to me. They’ll get to where they trust me, and they’ll pull harder for me than they will for anybody else.”

“You watch this horse here. He’ll set his back feet past where he picks his front ones up,” said Powell, as he drove the 4-year-old team of King and George, who were hitched to a sled.

“Watch him. I like a good long-walking horse, because then when you put him on that big load and he drops in that long walk, he can smoke that sled.”  


Powell’s eye for good horses and his skillful training methods have been repeatedly proven with hundreds of trophies, a world and international title, and many state titles from Michigan to Florida.
The retired longtime sheriff of Henry County, now 70, grew up on a farm near Drennon Springs learning from his father how to handle a team, both in the field and in competition.

His father, Floyd, handed Ray the lines at a horse pull in Bedford in 1948, and the boy was hooked for life.
This year, with a hay crop damaged by a late freeze then a lengthy drought, Powell and his sons, Robbin and Rick, realized there would not be enough hay for their herd of Angus cattle and their 16 Belgian pulling horses. So they sold the cattle.

Their horses are part of the family.

Ray Powell has turned much of the competition driving in recent years over to his older son, Robbin, 47, while Ray concentrates on training. “I guess I like it,” Robbin said. “It’s all I’ve ever done.”

Ray Powell is at work nearly every day bringing along future pullers. The young Belgians are bought as weanlings from Amish breeders in the Montgomery-Loogootee areas of Indiana and trained at the Powells’ farms in Henry County.

Two of Powell’s former champions, Rock, age 13, and Bill, 15, are now retired to pasture and stall on the Powells’ farms, where Ray Powell feeds the two every morning and night.

“They’ll both die right here,” he said. “They’ve earned the right.”


Story Link:  For complete story: Courier Journal, Louisville Kentucky

Last Minute Gift? Perhaps A Draft Horse Or Two Will Do!



  Click Here For A Gentle Giant


Click here for a Clydesdale


Click Here For A Percheron


Click Here For A Draft Horse


Happy Holidays!

Winter Scene: Laughing All The Way


Belgian Horse Team Delivers White House Christmas Tree


“Karry” and “Dempsey” with driver, Scott Harmon


A matching team of Belgian horses delivered the official White House Christmas tree to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday, Nov. 26, to kick off the holiday season in the nation’s capitol.

The 20-foot-high Fraser Fir was delivered on a four-wheeled wagon driven by Scott Harmon of Meadow Acres Farm in Brandy Station, North Carolina.

Midge Harmon’s team of Belgian draft horses, “Karry” and “Dempsey”, and her son Scott personally carted the 20-foot Frazier fir tree from a drop-point downtown to the White House.


This is the first time Harmon’s horses have been invited to deliver the official White House Christmas Tree.

“What an honor this was,” Midge Harmon said. “This is probably the biggest thing for a team of horses to be invited to do. I’m really proud and it was always a dream of my (late) husband”.

Harmon’s horses were selected by the White House to deliver the tree earlier this year after they provided hayrides for a congressional picnic on the White House grounds.

In the past, Oxen Hill Farm has traditionally handled the White House Christmas tree procession. However, this year they were not available.

Since the Harmons have trained Oxen Hill drivers and horses for the past 25 years, it turned to the Harmons to pull its wagon this year.

In preparing “Karry” and “Dempsey” for delivery of the White House Christmas tree,  the horses were washed and braided and turned out in full formal harness.

The manes were braided with green and red “flags” that rise above a French braid along the crest of the neck, and the tails were done up in a “Scotch knot.”


Midge Harmon adorns Belgian draft “Kerry”
after braiding the mane.

The harness were outfitted with sleigh bells, and the black harness itself was polished and every brass buckle shined.

The Fraser Fir tree, so huge that it spilled off the wagon front and back, was bedecked with a big red, white and blue bow. The tree was a gift from Mistletoe Meadows Christmas Tree Farm in Laurel Springs, North Carolina.


As Laura Bush stepped onto the Portico to accept the special delivery she said, “We’re thrilled that this beautiful tree…is going to be here in the Blue Room.

As Bush admired the 19-year-old evergreen,  Karry and Dempsey waited patiently behind her, nonplussed by photographers’ flashbulbs and television lighting.

“They’re used to all the excitement,” Midge Harmon said of Karry and Dempsey.


The business provides wedding carriages, festive hayrides and town festival entertainment, and all the farm’s horses are quite serene, even in the excitement of a city street. “They know their job,” she added.

As soon as Bush and Mistletoe Farm owners Linda Jones and Joe Freeman stepped away from the wagon, Midge Harmon stepped in with teamster David Yauch and daughter-in-law Susan Harmon to unhitch Karry and Dempsey from the wagon.


Shafts unhooked, Scott Harmon urged the pair forward, leaving the wagon and tree for White House staff to unload, and returned to the Harmon horse trailer parked a few blocks away from the White House.

The tree had been shipped from North Carolina via flatbed trailer.

Harmon and his horses met the truck to make the “old-fashioned” delivery, far more romantic, Harmon said, than having a tractor-trailer pull up to the presidential residence.


Midge Harmon, with her family, grandchildren
and Scott Harmon attending the Belgian Team.

Harmon’s Hayrides has been in operation for 37 years, first in Centreville, and for the past four years in Brandy Station. Harmon owns five teams of Belgian horses, providing hayrides for up to 120 guests at a time and formal carriages for weddings and other events.

Midge Harmon said that all five of the teams will be hard at work to kick off the Christmas season.


The tradition of placing a decorated tree in the White House began in 1889 during the presidency of Benjamin Harrison.


Link:  Harmon’s Belgians

Photographic Credits:  Chris Greenberg, Joyce N. Boghosian, Katie Dolac, Scott Harmon