Country World Archives 2001-2008

Tallest horse: Goliath slays world record

 

By LORI COPE | East Texas Edition


Joey Bynum, one of Goliath's trainers, readies the 19-hand, one-inch Percheron gelding for a photo shoot during the July 24 press conference.
-- Staff photo by Cope

July 31, 2003 -- Texans have a new bragging right: The world's tallest horse.

Goliath, an 8-year-old Percheron gelding, stands 19 hands and one-inch at the withers; that's 6-feet, five-inches at the top point of the shoulder.

The gentle, dark giant calls Mount Pleasant home, and is owned by Priefert Manufacturing, a family-owned business known best for their ranching equipment.

Goliath is one of six horses used to pull a Priefert promotional wagon. He is stationed as the team's "wheel horse" position - closest to the wagon. The team and wagon annually make about 250 appearances throughout the country. But because of this extreme height, Goliath is in demand for personal appearances - about 100 a year - throughout the year.

"And I image he will have even more now," said David Bynum, one of the horse's handlers.

On July 24, Prieferts held a press conference to certify Goliath's stature. Dr. Bill Howard, a large animal veterinarian from Longview, stood atop a step-ladder, placed a level on Goliath's withers to ensure an accurate stance, while his technician assistant Tammy Kessler held the tape measure at the horse's front hoof. Howard stretched the tape upward, and sure enough, the 19 hands and one-inch measurement was certified, followed by a round of applause.

"We have long called him the tallest horse in North American," said Bill Priefert, "but now we know he's the tallest horse in the world."

Guiness World Records confirmed the prestigious title on July 11, according to Bynum.

The Prieferts purchase their Percherons as 2-year-olds mostly from northern states, such as Washington and Pennsylvania, and then train them to be hitched and pull the wagon.

When the team of Percherons travel, two 18-wheeled semi-trucks pull the horse trailers. When Goliath travels to his personal appearances, he travels in a Bloomer Trailer. Bloomer is in the process of creating a special trailer with a "smart floor" that will comfort Goliath's ride. After all, a long trip is hard on the feet when you weigh nearly 2,500 pounds.

David Bynum, who worked for 27 years as Priefert's national sales manager, is semi-retired but "helps out" when it comes to traveling and showing off the enormous equine. While on display, Goliath is penned in a 12x12 area, which allows people to pet him - when he wants to be petted.

"When he gets tired of people petting him on the nose or something, he will just move to the middle of the pen," said Bynum, a horseman who trains Quarter Horses.

Bynum said he gets lots of questions about the horse while on tour. "They ask me, 'How did he get so big?' and I tell them we sprinkled him with Miracle Grow. ... We have a lot of fun out there."

What does the world's tallest horse eat? Pretty much the same as the other Percheron horses at the Priefert ranch - 18 pounds of Pilgrim's Advantage 14, a 14 percent feed, and a bale of coastal (Tifton 44, produced on the ranch) hay each day, according to Bynum.

Goliath doesn't each much grass. Bynum explained that Goliath can't reach the grass very well. Because of his extraordinary height, his neck just isn't long enough for him to comfortably graze. Bynum said, "He'll stretch his (front) legs apart like a foal so he can get his head down there (to the grass)."

Goliath gets some pasture-roaming time, as well as one hour a day on a Priefert horse walker.

And although Goliath is the tallest horse, his head is not the biggest. When it comes to halters and other headstalls, no exceptionally big size is needed, just one that will fit most draft horses. "Actually, some of the other horses have bigger heads," Bynum shared, "and he has small feet, some of the smallest of the horses we have."

Just recently, Bynum and Goliath returned from Wisconsin, an area of the nation that is very familiar with draft horses "so they really appreciate a big horse like this. ... And many older people really enjoy seeing him. I think it's because their family used to farm with draft horses."

The Percheron horse is thought to have descended from the "Black Horse of Flanders," with additional influence coming from the Andalusian and the Arabian after the Moorish invasion of France in 732 A.D. They were the first of the draft horse breeds to come to America; and the horses remained a primary agricultural power source through the 1930s. The average Percheron stands about 18 hands, 2 inches, according to the breed's website.

So how much is the world's tallest horse worth? "He's priceless," Priefert simply replied.