If you’ve seen the film ‘War Horse’ you’ll be familiar with the way horses were used in the First World War and The Suffolk Horse was used for pulling guns and heavy supply wagons.

The breed is a true icon, always chesnut in colour (this is not a spelling mistake by the way, but the traditional Suffolk spelling of the word).

In medieval times oxen were used for farm work. Over the centuries horses took over because a horse collar is more efficient than a yoke for pulling.

By the early 1940s farm horses were starting to be replaced by tractors. By the 1960s the population of Suffolk Horses had fallen to such an extent that only nine foals were registered in the Stud Book in 1966. A few farmers kept the breed alive over the next few years with a gradual increase to 50 foals in 2010.  In 2019 34 foals were registered in the UK and in 2020 there were 32.

You’ll be able to see the Suffolk Horse at The Game Fair thanks to The Suffolk Horse Society, who will be bringing along a few horses to meet.

Suffolk punch

The Suffolk Horse today

Suffolk Punches are still used for agriculture by a few people and there is growing interest in using them for eco-sensitive logging, and general haulage as in Richmond Park.

As people get bigger and heavier they need stronger horses for riding and many now ride Suffolk Horses, which provides another market for foals.  The Suffolk Horse Society supports breeders by giving grants to mare and stallion owners to help produce healthy foals.

This is important because the Suffolk Horse has a total UK population of less than 500, and it is classified as a critically endangered breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.