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English Breeds of Horse

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Suffolk - (Suffolk Punch)




Known previously as the Suffolk Punch, it is Britain's oldest heavy breed. It is always 'chesnut' in colour, of which seven shades are recognised.(Chesnut traditionally spelt without the 't' ) They range from a light chesnut to a dark liver chesnut, though the most common is a bright reddish chesnut. The mane and tail is sometimes pale in colour and it is permitted for a little white to be present on the face. There is historical reference to a Suffolk type horse as early as 1506. Originating in East Anglia, where it is ideally suited for working on the heavy soils of the area, it is named after the county where it has been bred since the sixteenth century. It is one of the few heavy breed horses, developed solely for agricultural use.

The conformation of the Suffolk, a heavy, round barrelled body on short legs that are free from feather, make it an admirable horse for heavy going, clay soil. It has a fairly large head with a broad forehead; a deep tapering neck; long, wide shoulders with plenty of muscle for ample 'pull'; wide, well rounded strong quarters and well set tail; the limbs are straight with plenty of good sound bone and hard medium sized feet; the hind feet are set close together, which prevents the horse from damaging the crops as it works. It stands from about 16 h.h. up to 17 h.h.

All Suffolk horses date back to one stallion, namely Crisp's Horse of Ufford, foaled in 1760, which probably accounts for the extremely distinctive aesthetics of the breed and the consistently amenable temperament. It is a strong, hardy horse, capable of living on the minimum amount of rations (even into its old age) without loosing condition. Known for it's longevity, it is also early to mature and may be put to light work at two years of age. Suffolk mares continue to produce foals into there late teens.

It is no wonder that the Suffolk became one of the most popular agricultural and draught horses of all time and has been exported all over the world. Though motorisation took its toll on the breed they may still be seen working on the land, pulling drays and at shows. There is a Suffolk Stud Book Society which was founded in 1877 and was the first heavy horse breed society in Great Britain.


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