Noddy the Shire horse is a strapping lad. He weighs in at 1.3 tonnes and could one day tip the scales at 1.5 tonnes. He takes an eight-foot cover and his Australian owner is getting him used to a ladder to make getting into the saddle a little easier.In short, Noddy has one mighty body.
Noddy, who has just turned five, is almost certainly the world’s tallest horse, standing 20.1 hands at the withers. His height – that’s 81 inches, or 2.057m – puts him a full inch (2.5cm) taller than Tina, a Shire horse officially listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s tallest.
Tennessee-based Tina, aged four, died late last month before she was to undergo hip surgery.
It seems that Noddy’s owner, Jane Greenman, has plenty more of Noddy to look forward to in the future: Heavy horses continue to grow to the age of seven and it is possible the gelding will put on another 200kg before he’s fully grown.
Jane bought Noddy as a six-month-old foal when she became interested in training a heavy horse to do work around her 40-acre farm on the outskirts of Melbourne.
She considered buying a Clydesdale but discovered that Shires were rare – possibly endangered – and figured that if people didn’t buy them and put them to work they would only get rarer.
Noddy – whose registered name is Luscombe Nordram – was born at a Queensland stud to a mare and sire from England.
He took up residence on Jane’s farm after weaning, where his growing has continued apace.
Owning a horse his size presents challenges, says Jane.
Everything needs to be specially made for him. His girths, for example, are special one-offs, as are his tailor-made covers.
“When you put on his winter canvas rug, it’s like pitching a tent,” she says.
So what is life like being a caregiver to the world’s tallest horse?
Jane, a licensed racehorse trainer, says he’s a gentleman. “He has a lovely temperament.”
However, in many ways he’s still just a teenager – and that includes being a “bottomless pit” at dinner time.
When he comes galloping over for his breakfast, his hooves sound like thunder, she says.
Noddy has the run of a five-acre paddock and gobbles through a bucket of hard feed a day. He has a couple of biscuits of lucerne a day and always has a big round bale of hay in his paddock, which he chews through in about four weeks.
“He eats about three times that of a normal horse,” says Jane.
Even friends who have worked with heavy horses all their lives have found that Noddy presents special difficulties, such as finding a carriage to fit him.
“We’ve learnt to think smarter,” says Jane.
Noddy can be saddled up and ridden and has been on a few trail rides. He has been broken to harness and can pull sleds and harrows.
He is now being trained to go into rigid shafts, which will involve pulling carriages with solid shafts on either side of his body.
Jane is now training him to take a ladder against his rump to make mounting easier. She hopes he will allow her to place the ladder against his rump and allow the rider to climb on board, then push the ladder away.
Publicity around Noddy, who is a gelding, has seen interest from overseas buyers.
“I have been head-hunted for him. At this stage he hasn’t been sold. I have had him all his life … as much as the offers are tempting …”
However, Noddy needs a job, she says. “The thing is with these horses, they were bred to do a job. I have got to find a job for him.”
She is determined that Noddy will not turn into the equine equivalent of a couch potato.
She does not rule out selling him, but would like to see Noddy continue with a good farm life, with occasional public appearances.
Meanwhile, Noddy continues eating – and growing – at his Melbourne home.
Aside from his food, he enjoys an occasional sleep on the ground – but rarely more than 15 or 20 minutes because of the pressure lying down puts on his massive frame.
He has, however, found one sleeping position to his liking – lying on his back with his four feet in the air.
Add to that his loud snoring, and it’s clear that Noddy doesn’t have to be on all four feet to present a spectacular sight.