Growing up I remember visiting the Museum of East Anglian Life with the highlight being Remus the Suffolk Punch. It was here I fell in love with these majestic creatures. ‘Punch’ being an old English word for a short and stout person, the horses are classed as a heavy horse. Chestnut in colour, and being able to work for long periods without rest, Suffolk Punch were the ideal choice for working the land. They can be traced back to 1768. However, in 1966 there were only nine foals registered in Suffolk with the breed declining rapidly. This could be due to to the mechanisation of agriculture on East Anglia’s flat arable land.
Suffolk Horse Society
Suffolk Horses are critically endangered, more so than the Giant Panda. They are registered on the priority list of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. The Suffolk Horse Society researches and funds breeding of the horses, from the veterinary and scientific work to maintaining a bank of frozen semen. They also help promote the breed and offer training days for members and new owners.
In 2019, Tullis Matson, owner and managing director of Stallion AI Services – a UK based centre of excellence for equine reproduction – and avid supporter of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, saw an opportunity to use a new technological advancement in the sex sorting of equine semen, to provide a lifeline to Britain’s rare and native horses. Christopher Price, Chief Executive of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust concludes: “The most effective way of increasing the population size of this very rare breed is by increasing the number of fillies being born.”
A promising start to 2021
This year the Suffolk Horse Society have announced the birth of 32 foals – 16 colts and 16 fillies. If you have access to the internet we highly recommend visiting their website to see all the adorable photos! Whilst this is a promising start, the fight against extinction continues and there is more to be done. Only 72 breeding mares are currently registered in the UK and fewer than 300 remain in the world.
Whilst these horses were once bred for working the land, now Suffolk Punches are being ‘shown’, including in agility. For a wonderful day out why not visit the Suffolk Punch Trust at Hollesley where you can meet the horses. The adoption page on their website will make you fall in love with these incredible creatures who have done so much for our County. The adoption page on their website will make you fall in love with these incredible creatures who have done so much for our County.
Sexed semen success could save Suffolk Punch horse from extinction 25.7.20 available online at [Sexed semen success could save Suffolk Punch horses from extinction | The Scottish Farmer]
Suffolk Horse available online at [Suffolk Horse | Rare Breeds Survival Trust (rbst.org.uk)]
Rare Breeds Survival Trust
024 7669 655
The Suffolk Punch Trust
Sink Farm, St David’s Lane, Hollesley IP12 3JR
(For sat nav use IP12 3LA)
Suffolk Horse Society
The official Charity for the preservation and promotion of the Suffolk Punch horse
Suite 8, Britannia House, Base Business Park, Rendlesham IP12 2TZ