Breeds of Horses - A to Z
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There is historical reference to a Suffolk type horse as early as 1506.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
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.