Iconic horses provide enduring spectacle

GALLERY Horse lovers were given the rare chance to see more than 60 traditional Suffolk Punches at work during a packed day of activities.

Will Clarke

HORSE lovers were given the rare chance to see more than 60 traditional Suffolk Punches at work during a packed day of activities.

The annual Suffolk Heavy Horse Spectacular took place yesterday, attracting visitors from across the area who watched the magnificent and iconic animals put through their paces.

With Euston Park, near Bury St Edmunds, providing an impressive backdrop for events the show provided something for everyone with a gymkhana, falconry displays, stalls, vintage cars and refreshments all included.


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Martin Goymour, president of the Suffolk Horse Society, said the event was the highlight of the calendar for anyone concerned for the future of the impressive breed.

Among the events were youngsters in country outfits demonstrating their horsemanship alongside the powerful animals.

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Mr Goymour said: “This used to be a common sight in East Anglia at a time when the region was the nation's bread basket and it was the Suffolk's muscle which did most of the work.

“The Suffolk is living heritage - if a country home is damaged it can be restored but if we lose the Suffolk it would take centuries of breeding to bring back.” The Duke of Grafton, who was hosting the event for the first time, said yesterday's meeting was the first time so many of the sturdy work horses had been together at the country seat since the 1940s.

He said: “My father owned 40 Suffolk Punches and was proud to judge this breed for many years at the Woodbridge Show.

“I think the last time we had so many Suffolk's in the park was when the Suffolk Show was held here in 1947.” Around 30 country craft and plant stalls completed the line up around the show ring where visitors also watched the Suffolk's at work drawing carts.

The spectacular was organised by the Suffolk Horse Society which has fought to safeguard the breed for more than 130years.

The number of Punches declined rapidly following the mechanisation of agriculture in the 1930s and although the gentle giants are slowly making a recovery less than 400 animals remain in the UK from a population of tens-of thousands during its heyday.

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