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The Suffolk Punch Horse is the oldest of heavy draft horses to exist in Great Britain retaining its state. It dates clear back as far as the 16th century, around the year 1506. The male side of this horse can actually all be traced back to one stallion, a horse named "Crisp's Horse of Ufford" who was foaled in 1768. The Suffolk has the longest written pedigree of any breed of horse; this goes back to the time of Crisp's Horse of Ufford when all the other male lines died out. It appeared to happen again at the beginning of the 19th century then again in 1940. The horse's legs give people the impression that they can't support the rest of the body because they are so short and stubby like, which is where they get their nickname "the Suffolk Punch."
The Suffolk Punch Horse was believed at one point to ascend from the medieval "Great Horse" which was brought to England by William the Conqueror. They were originally developed for farm work specifically in Norfolk and Suffolk of eastern England. Farmers specially bred them for the farm life because of their endurance and willingness to work, so not many of them were on the market to begin with. They were also very commonly used in pulled contests.
Because of its easy handling, power, and fast pace, it became very popular with the British and they even named a brand of lawn mower after it.
The Suffolk Punch is put to work as early as the age of two; they start off with light work then gradually increase the workload by the time they reach the age of three. They are put to work at such a young age because they are quick to train and willing to learn the trade, and often do so clear to their mid-twenties. In England they practice long hours of work without food, and the Suffolk Punch Horse did this very well.
Just like many horses, the Suffolk Punch was in danger of extinction; in 1966 only 9 foals were born. But luckily for the Suffolk there were many horse breeders and enthusiasts that jumped on board to save the breed, by 1999 their numbers rose to 201, and today they are still slowly but surely rising. Today many Suffolk horses are being imported to New Zealand to be bred, in small numbers but still none the less growing.
There was a time where the Suffolk was criticized for having poor feet, but then the introduction of classes for best feet completely turned that criticism around and made those responsible eat their words.
On April 7, 2002 at the Buttonwood Park Zoo of New Bedford, Massachusetts, a Suffolk Punch mare gave birth to a female foal. According to the International Species Inventory System, this is the first of all Suffolk Punch Horses to be born in a zoo that resides in the United States.
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