Monday, April 26, 2021

Great Heart; World Record High Jumping Horse at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, in 1923.

One of the greatest high jumping horses of all times, "Great Heart" made an appearance at Fort Sheridan in the 1920s.

This champion horse has escaped the local history books, but fortunately, this photograph survived to document the event.

At the beginning of the 20th century, horse high jumps were an integral part of horse shows. In the Chicago area, there were a number of horse shows held each year at Fort Sheridan, Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest, Soldier Field, Chicago Riding Club, South Shore Country Club, and so on.

In 1910, the world's record high jump was reportedly set by a horse named 'Confidense' who cleared 8 feet and 1/2 inch at an event in Ontario, Canada.

In 1922, Charles Weeghman's (pre-Wrigley Field), chestnut gelding, Strongheart, won the high jump at the International Horse Show in Chicago, clearing the bars at 5 feet 6 inches. That same year, at the South Shore Country Club's horse show, Great Heart cleared the bar at 7 feet 6 inches to win the high jump championship but failed in his attempt to beat the world record.

Chicago coal baron and founder of Peabody Coal, Francis S. Peabody (1858-1922) had purchased Great Heart as a young colt, and after Peabody's death in 1922, his son Stuyvesant "Jack" Peabody continued to train the horse. Great Heart had an affinity for jumping, especially bars set at 6 feet and above.

Great Heart was entered into the South Shore Country Club's horse show in 1923 with the intent of breaking the world record. On June 8, 1923, Great Heart cleared the mark, becoming the world's greatest high jumper with the bars set at 8 feet and 3 inches.
On June 9, 1923, Great Heart cleared the hurdles at 8 feet 13/16 inches at the South Shore Country Club Horse Show, Chicago.

Great Heart clearing an obstacle set at 8 feet 3 inches at Fort Sheridan, ridden by Fred Vesey in 1923.

Great Heart was retired to the Peabody farm (presumably Stuyvesant "Jack" Peabody's rural farm in Lemont, Illinois) soon after winning the world's champion title. In 1924, the family honored the horse by choosing "Great Heart" as the trade name for the fine grade of coal being mined at Peabody's Mine 30 in Kenvir, Kentucky.

One source claims the world champion high jumping horse is Huaso, a horse ridden by Chilean Captain Alberto Larraguibel, who set the high-jump world record on February 5, 1949, by jumping 8 feet and 1 inch—two inches less than Great Heart's jump of 1923.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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