Fact Check

Is This Photo of a Giant Furniture 'Horse Shelter' Real?

Photograph shows horses beneath giant furniture supposedly constructed to skirt a prohibition against building a horse shelter.

Published Nov 29, 2012

Updated May 20, 2014
Claim:
Photograph shows horses beneath giant furniture constructed to skirt a prohibition against building a shelter.

We first collected this rumor off the internet in 2003:

Fantastic! The farmer made this giant table and chairs after being refused permission to build a shelter for his horses! No permission was required for the giant furniture!


Click to enlarge

Photographs of these horses standing in a meadow beneath an outsized table and chairs have been circulating on the Internet since 2003, typically accompanied by the claim that the unusually large furniture was constructed by a farmer as a way of working around a local ordinance that prohibited him from building a shelter for the animals. Although the photographs are real, the claim about the giant furnishings' having originated as a way of skirting the law is a bit of fiction: the structures were built to serve the dual purpose of providing some shelter for the equines and serving as a visual advertisement for their owner's business.

When Time magazine featured a photograph of this tableau in June 2003, it was captioned thusly:

Three horses try to hide from the rain under an oversized table and chair in a pasture near Doellstaedt, eastern Germany. The huge garden furniture was installed by a local wood merchant to promote his products.

Likewise, several photographs of the same scene which were snapped by an Associated Press photographer in July 2004 bore similar captions:

Two horses stand under a gigantic table and chair during intense rainfalls in Doellstaedt near Erfurt, eastern Germany, on Wednesday, July 24, 2002. Timber merchant Jens Braun built the unusual furniture as a shelter for his horses.

Several additional pictures of the giant-sized pieces of furniture (with and without horses) and an overhead aerial view of the structures can be seen here.

Sources

McAllister, Edward.   "EPA to Test Water Near Penn. Fracking Site."     Reuters.   19 January 2012.

Updates

Update [20 May 2014]: This article has been updated.

Update [14 June 2021]: This article has been reformatted.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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