From chariot burials dating back to circa 2,000 BC and the Middle Ages to the Great Plains of America and the Industrial Age, the importance of the horse in the development of human civilisation has been well documented.
Therefore, it’s sad to hear that the Suffolk Punch horse is considered a critically endangered breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, with fewer than 75 females left in the UK. Luckily, one of the organisations trying to rectify this is the Suffolk Punch Trust in Woodbridge.
Read on to find out more about the trust and its work with these mighty beasts or click the button to start browsing our collection of Woodbridge properties.
Suffolk Punch Horse
Although horses of all breeds have proven to be invaluable in empowering more efficient transport, manufacturing and farming technologies throughout the ages, these noble creatures have come to represent so much more than mere ‘assets’ or ‘tools’. Indeed, for many people, horses are much loved as pets and trusted friends.
There are over 350 breeds of ponies and horses in the world today that fall into several categories; the Suffolk Punch comes under the classification of heavy horses.
Also known as the Suffolk Horse or Suffolk Sorrel, the Suffolk Punch breed was originally developed to undertake farm work during the early 16th century and takes its name from the county of Suffolk, as well as from the word ‘Punch’ – referencing the animal’s formidable frame and strength.
Despite its impressive strength, the Suffolk Punch breed is a relatively docile animal with a strong work ethic and surprisingly energetic gait. The Suffolk Punch is easily identifiable by its chesnut colour (traditionally spelled without the 't') as well as by its shorter height and greater bulk when compared to other heavy breeds.
The physical strength and determined work ethic of the Suffolk Punch has earnt the breed a trusted reputation as a stalwart partner in farm work, as well as in pulling everything from artillery and non-motorised vehicles. Sadly, the rapid rise in mechanised solutions that took place in the wake of the Second World War caused a decline in the need for the Suffolk Punch and the breed rapidly began to disappear.
Thankfully, there has been a resurgence in population numbers for the Suffolk Punch in recent years and today they are typically used in draught work, forestry and advertising.
Suffolk Punch Trust
The preservation of the Suffolk Punch breed is thanks in no small part to the efforts of groups such as the Suffolk Punch Trust. Although the trust officially opened its doors to the public in 2010, the roots of the charity date back all the way to 1759, when the Barthrop family first introduced Suffolk Punches to the Hollesley Estate – meaning that the Punches have continued to be bred at the site for more than 250 years!
Over the years, the Hollesley Estate has survived two world wars, where the horses played a vital role on the farm.
In 2002, the Suffolk Punch Trust was finally established and given three years to establish the required money to buy the stud and 188 acres of farmland. This was achieved in 2006, through donations and the support of several prominent people, including HRH Princess Royal and TV presenter Paul Heiney.
By 2010, the Suffolk Punch Trust began to welcome visitors and today the charity continues to work to preserve the Suffolk Punch breed, as well as the skills required to allow people to work with these fantastic creatures.
Further to taking care of over ten horses of all ages, the Suffolk Punch Trust also manages a farm complete with pigs, ducks, goats and chickens.
In conjunction with its fully active farm, The Suffolk Punch Trust offers various demonstrations and activities for guests to get involved in, as well as heritage walks, a museum and barn, a beautiful garden, a gift shop, children’s play areas and a cafe.
There is so much to do at the Suffolk Punch Trust and so many friends to be made around the farm, that visitors of all ages will be charmed and entertained time and time again. Not only is the Suffolk Punch Trust a fantastic day out, but it’s also a great cause that is well worth supporting.
Self-catering stays in Woodbridge
Find your perfect Suffolk cottage and stay in one of our Woodbridge properties today. From family-friendly accommodation to romantic boltholes for two, our Woodbridge cottages certainly do pack a (Suffolk) punch.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.