On November 10, 2004, around 3pm, the phone rang. The woman asked if I had a stall with a roof available for the following night, a Thursday. I said "Yes indeed, I have a very nice stall, enclosed on 3 sides, facing south." She asked how big it was, and when I told her it was 12 feet by 12 feet, she said she'd like to book it. I told her that the outdoor pens were much bigger and since it wasn't fixin' to rain, maybe her horse would be happier in a bigger pen, outside under the stars. She told me it was company policy to have the horse sleep under a roof at night, if at all possible. I said "Okay" and asked her name and when she'd be arriving with the horse.
"Well," she said, "the driver will be bringing Goliath up from the south of Texas, and I'll let him get in touch with you and tell you when to expect him and The Tallest Living Horse in the World."
"Whoa Nellie! What did you say! The Tallest Horse in the World is coming to Happy Horse?! How big is he?" I asked excitedly.
"Well, the Guinness Book of World Records people measured him at 19.1 hands a year ago in July, 2003, and ever since then he's been on the road making personal appearances all over the country. Now he's on his way back home, to northeast Texas. Goliath and his driver, Charles Woods, will be in your area tomorrow, and they need a comfortable place to lay over for the night."
She then explained how she'd found Happy Horse Hotel through the HorseMotel.com web site where we are listed, and had picked us because we were in the right place for a lay-over, after the horse had travelled for 6 or 7 hours, and we had a stall with a roof. This was their major requirement.
Holy Moly, a celebrity horse was coming to visit! The biggest horse I'd ever heard of! 6 feet and 5 inches tall at the withers! His ears were probably 8 ft off the ground! Later that night Charles did indeed call and get specific directions and tell me he'd be here mid-afternoon.
Thankfully, the weather was grand, the HHH grounds were well-tended since we'd had 3 ladies here from Dallas earlier in the week, and all was in readiness. Except for the chili and cornbread dinner I would make to share with Charles and his wife Guilda --- and "a few other friends" that immediately wanted to come visit, once they heard the astonishing news! Goliath was coming!
At 2:30 Charles pulled the huge Bloomer horse trailer -- a 3 horse slant made especially stout and tall -- around the circular HHH driveway and the back door was flung open. The great blue-black beast inside majestically backed himself out of the trailer, carefully placing each plate-size hoof until all four of them stood firmly on the welcoming ground of the Happy Horse Hotel.
Beaux and I just stood back in awe. Watching the horses get unloaded is my favorite part of running this business, and this was the best one yet! As Charles bent to remove the shipping boots from the great tree trunk legs, Goliath lifted his magnificent black head and his nostrils flared, testing the air. Intelligent eyes, with a perfectly centered white star between them, focused on the pasture in the distance, and lit up with interest. He whickered, and strained at his lead rope.
"Whoa there, big fella!" said Charles, tugging sharply on the rope that snapped to the red halter that graced the huge black head. Goliath stood patiently while the protective boots were removed, gazing raptly at our 3 horses, who had come to the fence to greet him. They suddenly looked like ponies to us.
Boots put away, he was led towards his stall. The great legs began to walk eagerly toward the other horses, and when he was put inside the stall, he strained at the puny-looking white fence boards and gate across the front, yearning to be with the other horses.
"He's seen no others in a long, long time," Charles told me. "He misses his buddies."
"Shall I go get my Black Max to keep him company for the night?" I asked.
"You had better, or we will have to load him up and leave, since the pen won't hold him for long with no horse companion to settle him now," Charles explained.
Beaux ran to get Max, and in short order there was my own beautiful black horse in his red halter coming across the green, ready to greet his long-lost and very large distant French cousin. (Percherons were originally a French-bred draft horse.) We put him in the stall next to Goliath and they sniffed noses thru the gaps in the 2x10 boards, and after a bit of snuffling and excitement, Goliath and Max turned to their hay bags and started munching contentedly, side by side, secure in each other's presence.
|15.3 hand Max next to 19.1 hand Goliath|
After the 2400 lb horse had enjoyed an afternoon snack and a bucket of our delicious well water (he eats and drinks an enormous amount, of course -- 30 gallons of water a day, 20 lbs of grain, and 50 lbs of coastal bermuda hay), Charles took him out and put a new bosal bridle on him, made by a friend of theirs for the purpose of suppling the horse. Goliath was trained as a wheel horse as part of a 6 horse team of matched black Percherons used to pull the handsome 4500 lb freight wagon owned by Priefert Manufacturing, the company that owns him. Priefert makes ranch supplies, like fences and gates, and uses the team to promote their products at fairs and rodeos and ranching events around the country. They're called Texas Thunder and crowds have been delighting to the thunder of their hooves for years.
Now that Goliath is The World's Tallest Living Horse, he travels by himself for about 6 months a year, and then goes back to being a team horse for the other 6 months.
Charles put the bitless bridle on him, then positioned him between our pens, climbed up the rungs until he was at the top, then jumped on that big broad gleaming black back! Off they trotted to my small front pasture, with great elegance and presence. It was time for some exercise!
What a lovely sight to see -- this huge horse being so quiet and obedient and graceful, trotting around my green pasture with his beloved man on board, sitting so well on his bare back. No saddle has been found that will fit the horse, so Charles must ride him bareback. He rides Goliath nearly every day, after his job of meeting the public is done and it's time for some horse play.
After 30 minutes of trotting around, Charles rode this incredible fellow back to the barn and put him away for the night. Max and he said HELLO again, and went to standing next to the wall that separated them, just like they'd known each other for a very long time and were delighted to be able to lounge around together for awhile. Each of them occasionally bent an elegant black head to the hay bag, snagging a mouthful of hay and munching together contentedly. The sound of those two pairs of powerful jaws grinding up that tough fiber is strangely musical.
It is reported that they snoozed comfortably all night long, quiet and calm together, and in the morning Goliath loaded up into his trailer and neighed out a hearty goodbye to Max, along with a promise to return for another visit next spring.
What a visitor!
As reported by Hollis Wayne.