Kangaroo Valley's Cedars Stormy George is Australia's tallest horse

WARM UP: Cedars Stormy George tries on his new saddle as part of his preparation for this years Sydney Royal with Scott Brodie and Helene Scarf. Images: Supplied
WARM UP: Cedars Stormy George tries on his new saddle as part of his preparation for this years Sydney Royal with Scott Brodie and Helene Scarf. Images: Supplied

Meet Cedars Stormy George who is officially the tallest Shire horse in Australia.

Despite his massive size, owner Helene Scarf, from NSW's Kangaroo Valley, said Stormy, as he is affectionately known, is a "gentle giant."

The gelding stands an imposing 19.1 hands - six foot five inches in the old scale or around 196 centimetres to the wither.

A horse's size is measured in hands (around four inches) - originally a man's hand was used with the base of the palm to the fingers on top of each other from the ground, just beside and behind a foreleg to the top of the withers (shoulders).

Tipping the scale at just over a tonne, he took over the mantle as the country's tallest horse after his cousin Luscombe Nodram "Noddy" recently passed away, aged 19.

Stormy follows in his Uncle Archie's footsteps (Cedars Archibold - who passed away aged 28).

Archie also held the position as the nation's tallest horse for many years, standing at 19 hands (around 193cm), until Luscombe Nodram took over standing at 20.2 hands (around 208cm).

In fact, Nordram actually held the title as the world's tallest horse and the Scarf's actually bred his mother, Cedars Annabella.

Nodram and Stormy share the same grandfather Ladbrook Edwards, which the Scarf's imported to Australia from the UK in 1981, travelling on a specially converted jumbo jet.

It marked the important occasion of reintroducing the Shire Breed back into Australia, which had died out in the early 1900s.

The public can see Stormy George close up at this year's Kangaroo Valley Show on February 11-12 in preparation for the Sydney Royal Easter Show in April, where over the years, he has also been a regular competitor.

The eight year-old (who will actually turn nine on October 23) will be competing at the Valley Show on Saturday, February 12 in the Shire's competition in both the led gelding and ridden classes.

To see these large horses being ridden is majestic.

"They are just such a beautiful animal," Helene said.

Stormy is also a work horse and pulls a sled with his harness collar on.

"We will be using the Valley Show as a warm-up for Sydney. It is also an opportunity to register points to qualify for next year's Sydney Royal," Helene said.

"We also thought it would be a great chance for local people to see the nation's now tallest horse at a local show.

"2022 is the 200th year of the Sydney Royal so it is a big deal competing there this year.

"And after so many other shows were cancelled last year due to COVID it has been hard to qualify."

In preparation for the upcoming show season, Stormy has been transported to Helensburgh where he is working with top level horse trainer Scott Brodie at his equine centre, Horses From Courses.

"Scott will just tune him up ahead of the Sydney Royal," Helene said.

"He will be ridden every day and will be in peak condition for Sydney.

"We've purchased a new light-weight saddle after he outgrew his old one, and it will take some time for him to get comfortable with that.

"It's definitely interesting to ride them - you are up pretty high."

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Stormy, although now thought to be fully grown, has actually grown an inch in the past 18-months.

"We have a local livestock transporter we use to transport Stormy in a cattle truck," Helene said.

"Eighteen months ago he comfortably fitted into the truck - just recently we tried to put him onboard and there was no way he would fit in - he's just too tall.

"Shires are big animals and they take time to mature and that has been the case with Stormy but we think he's reached his full height now."

Stormy lives with several other Shires which form part of The Cedars Shire Horse Stud at Barranca in Kangaroo Valley.

Barranca provides luxury guest accommodation in a secluded valley of creeks and nature walks over 1000 acres.

Guests get meet these gorgeous creatures at the morning feed up.

And where did the name Stormy George come from?

Helene canvassed guests staying at the property at the time - he was born at the same time as Prince George, so one suggestion was George.

"The night he was born was also a terrible storm and really heavy rain," Helene said.

"So we combined both and Stormy George it was.

"He's just so quiet and placid - a bit of a sook actually.

"You go into the paddock and he comes up to you and just follows you around.

"He always comes up to say hello to our guests and they can feed him and our other animals in the feed up - they love him."

Barranca also sponsors five-day workshops with soldiers who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress.

Scott Brodie undertakes the courses, teaching the former service personnel horsemanship.

He mirrors the anxiety and stress of racehorses fresh off the track with the soldier's anxiety and stress and gets them forming a bond between each other of willingness and trust.

Scott and Stormy George actually feature in a documentary 'The Healing' which will be screened in Nowra next month sometime.

The documentary was made at Barranca with a handful of ex-service people and shows how the program has evolved and works.

Stormy played a part in the making of the movie carrying Scott around carrying the huge camera while filming the documentary.

"All the while in adjacent paddock Shires romped around offering their encouragement and support," Helene said.

"We are all looking forward to seeing the finished product."

This story Meet Stormy George, Australia's tallest horse first appeared on Southern Highland News.