In July 2021, a video of a very large horse went viral on social media. The horse's name is Phantom, and he is unusually large even for large working breeds known as draft horses.
Phantom resides at Gentle Giants, a draft horse rescue located in Mount Airy, Maryland. He's a Shire, a breed that generally grows to a height of 16 to 18 hands (just over 5 feet to 6 feet at the top of the shoulder).
A video of Phantom with his towering stature, posted to the Gentle Giants TikTok account, has been viewed millions of times.
Phantom is 7 years old and stands at 20.1 hands — just shy of 7 feet, meaning his shoulders and head soar above the top of most people's heads.
Gentle Giants says it rescues the large horses from slaughter, abuse, and neglect, noting that horse slaughter is an industry most of the public is unaware of, and that buyers for the slaughterhouses get the horses at public auctions. Sadly, draft horses are at high risk because their size makes them profitable for that industry, per the rescue.
According to Lauren Nation, development director for Gentle Giants, it's unlikely that Phantom will take the Guinness World Record designation of "world's tallest horse," a title previously previously held by Big Jake, a Belgian horse residing in Wisconsin. Big Jake died in June 2021 at the age of 20.
Nation said that although Phantom is very big, there are likely bigger horses, considering that his breed, Shire horses, are known to get even taller than he is.
"While he is large, he is likely nowhere near being the world's tallest horse," Nation told Snopes in an email. "His friend Teton, a large Percheron, is just 3 inches shorter than him. Shires like Phantom can reach incredible heights so we expect there is a much larger horse out there, likely at or over 21 hands."