Rare breed: Suffolk Punch

Suffolk Punch

The Suffolk Punch is viewed by enthusiasts as the horse which shaped Britain’s social history. These gentle giants pulled ploughs, cut corn and drew wheat to the mills to feed residents. They have also been used for transport, forestry, in the artillery and more recently in commercials – no doubt a testament to their beauty.

The oldest breed of heavy horse in Great Britain, the Suffolk Punch dates from the 16th century, but all animals alive today trace their male lines back to one stallion, a horse called Crisp’s Horse of Ufford, who was foaled in 1768. The breed originated in the 1600s in the East Anglian region of Suffolk, hence the first half of its name. The term Punch applies to his strength and solid appearance.

Despite the centuries since their inception, they remain true to their original characteristics and are admired for their solid good looks. They generally stand 16.1 to 17.2hh and weigh 900 to 1,000kg. They are always chestnut in colour, ranging from liver to red to bright; white markings are rare.

Fun facts

  • When applied to the Suffolk Punch, traditionally the spelling of chestnut is minus the ‘t’ – chesnut.
  • The Suffolk Punch has a powerful, arching neck, well-muscled, sloping shoulders, a short, wide back and a muscular, broad croup. Legs are short and strong with broad joints, sound, well-formed hooves and little or no feathering.
  • The lack of feathers on the Suffolk horse’s feet makes them the ideal horse in East Anglia where the heavy clay soils can clog up the feet of more feathered breeds.

 

Powerful yet good-natured, these horses excel at hard work and are valued as good doers. In spite of being coldbloods, they are also known for having energetic gaits. Although once one of the most popular breeds in Great Britain, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust of the UK considers their current survival status critical. In 2014 the Suffolk Horse Society registered 32 foals – 20 colts and 12 fillies.

For more information visit Suffolk Horse Society