Prepared from information supplied by Suffolk Punch Australia
The Suffolk Punch draught horse, also known as the Suffolk horse, originates from East Anglia in the United Kingdom. They were bred as powerful agricultural plough and cart horses, renowned for their great pulling strength.
The breed is always chestnut in colour. The word 'punch' indicates a rounded, stocky shape. The Suffolk is strong and well-muscled, standing between 16 and 17 hands, and weighing between 800 and 1000 kilograms.
Suffolks are an easy-care horse with an ability to work longer and thrive on poorer quality feed, which is vital in drought-ravaged country. Their whole-coloured coats, with minimal white, help to minimise skin cancers.
Imported during the early years of settlement in Australia, Suffolks were used for agriculture, horticulture and dam building. They were also used as heavy coaching horses, for wagons, logging and as dray horses in some cities. They contributed to the Waler and remount horses for the army and artillery, the latter either as full bloods or half draughts, with many bred in the Northern Territory.
The great breeding studs of pure Suffolk using imported English stock lasted less than 80 years, and were predominately in New South Wales, throughout New England with the Dangar family, the Central West with the Erambie Stud of George Hebden, and the Macarthurs at Camden.
In Queensland, Suffolk Punches were bred by the Cotton family at Hidden Vale. In 1920 the Brookman family's Glenthorne stud in South Australia comprising some 30 horses was sold, and bought by James Macallum Smith for his Homebush Stud at Cookernup, Western Australia.
In the 1990s, Marge and Dennis Candy formed the first Suffolk Punch stud since the Homebush Stud was dispersed in 1939, at their Draught Horse Centre at Inverell in New South Wales. Realising that the small foundation stud meant building numbers of pure Suffolks would take decades, they instituted the grading-up program in 1997 with friend Bill Goddard.
In the United Kingdom, the Suffolk horse is classified as a category one, critical breed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, with a herd of only approximately 440. In the United States, numbers are around 2000. In Australia in 2014 there are believed to be only seven potential breeding animals with two geldings.