Last summer we visited the Suffolk Punch Trust at Hollesley. Richard had been in touch with his cousin who had enquired about Suffolk Punch horses and wondered if we could go and find some. We obliged.
The Suffolk Punch Trust is a charity that works to protect the critically endangered Suffolk Punch horse by its breeding programme, by making people aware of the horse and its history and by training men and women to work with them. Suffolk Punches have been on this site since 1880 when the then owner of the farm began to breed them here. In 1886, the Colonial College was formed where young gentlemen were trained in farming methods but by 1906 the site was owned by London County Council who used the site to create work for the unemployed. In 1938 the Prison Service took over the farm where they rehabilitated young offenders. When I first came to live in Suffolk in the 1980’s the ‘Colony’ was featured fairly regularly on local news programmes because of the very successful stud the Prison Service with their young offenders had developed. Sadly, the Prison Service found it had to sell the farm in 2002 and many of the workers there were sad to leave the horses. This was when the Trust was formed and the good work that was begun so many years ago has been continued.
The Suffolk Punch is a heavy draught horse specially bred for agricultural work on the land rather than as cart horses on the road. They are massive horses with very powerful, muscular necks but are shorter in height than most other draught horses. They were used on and near the battlefields during the First World War because of their strength and because they were accustomed to working on thick, clay soil. With the introduction of the motor tractor the horses were no longer needed and many were slaughtered.
The Trust also looks after other horses…
…such as these Shetland ponies and also horses just out of racing, that are rested here by the charity ‘Retraining of Racehorses’. They then go on elsewhere to be trained for a second career.
The Trust also looks after other rare breeds of native Suffolk farm animals such as the Large Black Pig, Red Poll Cattle, Suffolk Sheep, Ixworth Chickens and Bantam Silver Appleyard Ducks.
They have a Suffolk Heritage Garden stocked with plants, shrubs and trees that originated in or are associated with Suffolk. We didn’t get to see this unfortunately.
Richard videoed this as well.
There is a saying about the Suffolk Punch –
A Suffolk Punch should have a face like an angel, a belly like a barrel and a backside like a farmer’s daughter
Well, it’s obvious a woman never thought that one up!
We walked around some of the paddocks and met many of the residents.
We visited the museum.
We found it a very enjoyable and interesting place.
Thanks for visiting!