Scottish horse thought to be tallest in Europe

NOT many people would take on a 10ft-tall pet that costs more than £25 a day to feed, needs groomed with a diesel-powered pressure washer and has the strength of a small car.

Lincoln at Tannoch Stables near Cumbernauld. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

And what if the animal was covered in sores, had a leg defect and was more than half a tonne underweight?

“Only a lunatic was going to take him,” said James Mackie, a farmer and fruit and vegetables wholesaler. “He was going for meat, and we negotiated his deadweight price.”

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With a box of fresh veg, a bottle of whisky and £450 cash, the deal was done. And that’s how Lincoln, Europe’s biggest horse, came to live on a farm on the outskirts of Glasgow.

Nine months later, the five-year-old Shire is no longer the emaciated, terrified animal who kicked down a stable door and leapt in fear if a person lifted their hand.

He has made a miraculous recovery, helped by a daily diet of 26lb of carrots, 24 apples, 11lb of spinach, four or five cabbages and the odd snack from Mr Mackie’s staff.

He measures 6ft 10in to the shoulder, but looks set to become the world’s tallest horse when he is fully grown in about two years. The titleholder, a 12-year-old Belgian draught horse named Jake, lives in the United States and is just three-quarters of an inch taller.

Mr Mackie agreed to help save Lincoln after persuasion by fellow farmer and friend Ruth Blair, who cares for rescued racehorses and Shetland ponies.

She called and said: “This horse is with a trader and he’s in a bad way. I would like to rescue him but I need someone to do it with.”

Ms Blair agreed to pay the vet bills if Mr Mackie, who also has two Scottish Clydesdales at his farm in Inchinnan, would provide the care.

“I’ve known Ruth a long time and she knows I’ve got access to lots of fruit and vegetables, and that’s what you need to pour into this horse.

“So I went out to see him and he was pretty gubbed. To be honest, I thought he was too far gone. When he arrived here, even though I’d seen him before, I though, ‘Oh my good lord, what have I done’.”

Mr Mackie kept Lincoln stabled for the first ten days, just feeding him and getting him used to being handled.

He said: “He must have been beaten with a stick in the past, as when you put your hand up he would jump back. When an animal of his size does that it’s pretty scary.

“Lincoln is the biggest horse in Europe and when I put him into the stable he hit his head off the roof. On the second day he kicked down the door.”

Lincoln still has a bit of filling out to do and has not yet reached his full height. Being in the saddle is like riding on a Transit van, according to Mr Mackie.

As well as the effects of ill treatment, Lincoln suffers from a condition called stringhalt that causes one leg to lash out when he walks. A strict exercise routine has helped reduce its severity but it cannot be cured.

But the transformation in Lincoln has been dramatic, even if he doesn’t realise his own strength.

“He is a friendly big horse but so far has pulled down three fences and lifted the golf buggy I was in off the ground by picking up the back in his teeth,” Mr Mackie said.

Ms Blair added: “He is a fabulous big horse with a kind, docile nature but has a tremendous amount of power in him. He now has a lifetime home.”