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Wisconsin family mourns the loss of ‘Big Jake’ — the world’s tallest horse

“Big Jake” died at the age of 20
Updated: Jul. 5, 2021 at 6:00 AM CDT
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POYNETTE, Wis. (WMTV) -A family in Poynette is mourning the loss of their beloved horse. “Big Jake” was a 20-year-old Belgian who lived on Smokey Hollow Farm, an 85-acre farm in Poynette. Big Jake was also the Guinness World Record holder for the world’s tallest living horse.

“Jake was a superstar and I’m not just saying that because he was ours,” said Smokey Hollow Farm owner Jerry Gilbert. “He was truly a magnificent animal. He was extremely talented,”

Gilbert showed Big Jake off at shows like the Wisconsin State Fair. Jake participated in Draft Horse Showing which is where Big Jake another horse would drive Gilbert and family around while attached to a harness.

“He was just a respectful horse. He was an extremely hard worker,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert says Big Jake was born in Nebraska and was about 100 pounds heavier at birth than the typical Belgian foal.

“He weighed 240 pounds and that’s unusual for a foal, that is very large,” said Gilbert. “The average would be 140 pounds,”

Gilbert’s relative purchased Big Jake and pretty soon it became apparent that Jake was getting too big for them to handle. That’s when Gilbert brought Jake to Smokey Hollow.

Gilbert describes "Big Jake" as a gentle giant
Gilbert describes "Big Jake" as a gentle giant(Jerry Gilbert)

In 2010, Big Jake was certified as the world’s tallest living horse by the Guinness Book of World Records. From his hooves to his shoulders, Jake stood a towering 6 foot 10 inches and 3 quarters tall and weighed 2,500 pounds. That height does not count his neck and head.

“Jake was just a special horse,” said Gilbert. “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,”

Sadly, Jake passed away a couple of weeks ago.

“It’s very quiet. The other horses know. I think they have their own grieving time because Jake was the center of attention around here,” said Gilbert. “There is a huge void, it feels like he’s still here, but he’s not,”

For Gilbert, Big Jake was so much more than just a big horse.

“Our relationship was 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.

The Gilberts plan to memorialize Big Jake by keeping his stall empty and inserting a brick on the outside of his stall with his picture and name.

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

Big Jake would often draw a crowd wherever he went
Big Jake would often draw a crowd wherever he went(Jerry Gilbert)

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