One of the oldest breeds of English draught horse, the Suffolk Punch has a history dating back to the 16th century. Originally known as the ‘Suffolk Sorrel,’ the breed boasts a number of differences to other heavy working breeds and is both distinctive and exceptionally rare today.
The founding stallion, named ‘Crisp’s Horse of Ufford,’ was foaled in 1768 and is credited with the bloodline of all modern Suffolk Punches.
Developed from various breeds, including the Thoroughbred, Norfolk Cob and Norfolk Trotter, the Punch has been in and out of favour over the course of its history, with the population declining significantly following the Second World War (not only was the Suffolk Punch widely enlisted in the war effort as an artillery horse, but many were sent to the slaughterhouse for their meat).
Recently, resurgence in interest in the breed has meant that numbers are up slightly, although it is still considered one of the rarest horse breeds in Britain. In 1966 only 9 Suffolk Punches were registered in the UK; this has increased to somewhere in the region of 150 horses today.
Always chestnut in colour, the Suffolk Punch was traditionally utilised as a dexterous draught horse, in commercial forestry, and as an everyday companion and riding animal.
During the 20th century, a number of Suffolk Punch horses were exported to Pakistan in order to improve some of their native equines. They were also largely crossed with donkeys, producing today’s Pakistani mules.