04 April 2021

Brooklyn Supreme

That was his name.  In 1930 he was "the biggest horse ever."
Brooklyn "Brookie" Supreme (April 12, 1928 – September 6, 1948) was a red roan Belgian stallion noted for his extreme size. Although disputed, the horse may be the world record holder for largest (but not tallest) horse and was designated the world's heaviest horse. He stood 19.2 hands (198 cm (6 ft 6 in)) tall and weighed 3,200 lb (1,451 kg) with a girth of 10 ft 2 in (3.10 m). His horseshoes required 30 in (76 cm) of iron. The horse was foaled on the Minneapolis, Minnesota farm of Earle Brown.
Reposted from 2018 to add some additional material, including this photo of a Percheron stallion -

This Percheron exhibiting color change over a 5-year time span:

This is not specific to Percherons. Horses with the grey gene are born with whatever their coat pattern/color would have been without the grey gene. The grey gene then causes depigmentation of that color over time. It's a short period of time and usually you can see that a horse is carrying the grey gene when they are foals (many foals will present grey "goggles").
And this photo of a horse exhibiting seasonal color change:


  1. That's a horse of two different colors.

  2. The Percheron's large size can be useful in other ways. In Australia the largest Percheron draught horse stud belongs to the biotech company CSL, where they are used to make snake antivenom. After the snakes have their venom milked, small doses (along with adjuncts to create a strong immune response) are given to the horses and over a period of time, as the horse builds immunity, the dose is increased to what would ordinarily be many times what would kill the horse. The horses then have their blood taken and the white blood cells are purified to extract just the component that attack the venom proteins. This is then injected into people when they are bitten by a snake. Different antivenom is required for different snakes. When a horses has completed a cycle, they are returned to the paddock, where they run around with the other horses until it is their turn again. The horse's large size and long livers means greater quantities of serum can be produced, but smaller animals are required for some antivenom, so rabbits, for instance, are used for Sydney Funnelweb spider vaccine, as few animals actually react to (or die from) their venom. This is how antivenom is made worldwide, and is not unique to CSL. As an aside, I wonder if the new mRNA technology used to create the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines could be used to create antivenom.

  3. Have you been listening to the 99% Invisible podcast on snake venom?

    1. Actually I live in Tasmania and studied journalism back at the turn of the century. I saw something about it in an old book at my parent's house and did a bit of research on it, before writing a 2000 word article for an assignment. I flew to Melbourne (in Victoria) and interviewed venom researchers at the Australia Venom Research Unit, a guy at CSL who ran the serum program and a guy who lived in Hobart who was bitten by his pet tiger snake (in Australia pet snakes cannot have their venom glands removed). His snake was just a baby, but it latched onto his forearm and wouldn't let go; he used up all the antivenom in the south of Tasmania and got Serum sickness afterwards. Finally I interviewed a lady at St John's Ambulance about snakebites and her experience. She said that a surprising number of people are bitten in their house or while trying to kill the snake. She also said that many people don't even know they have been bitten - they've been on a camping trip and feel sick and think it's food poisoning, until the teeth marks are spotted days layer or it felt like a branch brushing against their leg. Even the guy in Hobart said that you'd think it would really hurt, but he barely felt it and it latched onto him and was pumping the venom in. My favourite quote was about stonefish, which are a tropical reef fish with spines on their back and are excruciatingly painful when trodden on and nothing, even opiates, will relieve the pain - if someone phones in and thinks it's a stonefish, if there isn't someone screaming in the background, it's not a stonefish. Most stonefish deaths are actually from drowning because the pain stops people from thinking clearly and doing anything really. Platypus venom is similarly painful and the guy whose pet snake bit him was also stung by a platypus in his childhood and could attest to just how painful they are. I was hoping to see the horses, but alas no, but i did get a High Distinction for the assignment. I grew up on a farm and my dad had clydesdales, so I'm familiar with big horses - plenty of very large tiger snakes on the farm too, i might add. Tasmania has a lot of snakes, so many in fact that European settlers introduced kookaburras to try and reduce their numbers. When the deadly 60 did an episode in Tasmania, they were in a paddock and they were finding huge copperheads and tigersnakes everwhere; Steve Backshall was amazed at just how many there were.


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