About Suffolk Punch Horses
Suffolk Punch horses have a long and well-established
history as a draught animal of English origin. Arthur Young, one of the
earliest writers on British livestock, and who himself came from Suffolk, was
the first to refer, in 1771, to the area’s 'noble breed of horfes', as a distinct
breed. He noted that even in his childhood (he was born in 1741) the Suffolk
was referred to as ‘The Old Breed.’ It is almost certainly the oldest existing
pure breed of draught horse to have originated in England.
|New Zealand Suffolk Punch filly (Owned and photographed by Bonnie Smith)|
William Youatt in 1837, and David Low in 1845, both equally
renowned as recorders of early livestock in Britain, also wrote
enthusiastically of the Suffolk, noting its distinctive 'stout or punchy form',
with large head and deep neck, and particularly its steadiness in draught – 'no
horses exerted themselves better at a dead pull'. The Shiels painting of a
Suffolk Punch shown here was commissioned by David Low in the 1830s, to
illustrate his work.
But the two features which at first glance most
distinguished the Suffolk Punch from other British draught horses were its color
– generally described as chesnut (although it could vary from dun to sorrel),
and the lack of the ‘feathering’ which is so characteristic of the Clydesdale
and Shire, on its heels. Robert Wallace, writing in 1888, thought the Suffolk’s
body looked 'much too heavy' for its 'clean and fine' legs.
(One interesting historical fact relating to the Suffolk
Punch concerns how its color is spelled. Correctly, and traditionally, it is
spelled ‘chesnut’ – with no ‘t’ after the ‘s’ – as this is how the word was
always written prior to 1820 and therefore how it appears in original
Today the Suffolk Punch survives in only small numbers in
various countries throughout the world. The Rare Breeds Survival Trust lists
the breed as ‘critical’ in Britain.
Content and Photo Source: New Zealand Rare Breeds (www.rarebreeds.co.nz )