As with any type of horse breed there are different shows and categories for those breeders and owners that wish to compete with their Suffolk Punch. As with all the draft breeds the most common shows or exhibit type events for the Suffolk Punch include being shown in-hand, also known as a halter class, or in pulling or driving events. The Suffolk Punch is not just a work horse however; they are often used in team hitches and as heavy wagon horses for advertising and even in parades and commercials, movies and television shows.
The Suffolk Punch is not as flashy of a draft horse as some of the more colorful breeds, but the consistent and rich chestnut color of the breed makes it perfect for a matching hitch or team. These teams are shown with amazingly ornate and beautifully worked and detailed harnesses that highlight the movement and coordination of the team. With the rich chestnut color of the Suffolk Punch dark blue, forest green and even the deep burgundy colors are often used in the harness and as braiding material in the mane. This color contracts gives additional emphasis to the beautifully arched neck and heavy, muscular chest and shoulders that are such an essential characteristic of the breed.
The Suffolk Punch is typically shown with the mane braided and the forelock gathered into a neat knot at the front of the ears. This allows the judges to see the broad and open forehead, muscular neck as well as the open and kind expression that is typical of the breed. To prepare the Suffolk Punch for in-hand or halter type classes the horse must be fully trained to lead and must also is able to walk and trot with the handler to show the horse's movement and conformation while in motion. It is amazing how even a younger teen or older child can easily show these huge animals since they are so gentle and typically well behaved.
When shown in harness the Suffolk Punch may either be in a working harness at a draft horse pull or competition or in a show team type event. The working horse competition has teams of horse’s categories by weight into different levels, each competing against similar teams to move set amounts of weight over a set distance. These events typically have the teams start the weight from a standstill across a finish line. The weights are on a sled like low platform and there is a time limit on how long the team has to actually start the weight and move it the selected distance.
In driving events the Suffolk Punch team is judged on their overall appearance and unity as a team. They are often pulling traditional looking brewery or heavy wagons and the drivers are often in authentic costume to match the type of wagon. Driving events may include two, four and six horse hitches of Suffolk Punch teams. These events are always crowd pleasers and area great way for people to learn about the Suffolk Punch.