Thousands celebrate the Suffolk Punch
THE largest gathering of rare Suffolk Punch horses in the world attracted thousands of people yesterday.More than 60 of the traditional heavy horses were on display at Easton Farm Park, near Woodbridge, where they were put through their paces in the main ring in front of families keen to learn more about farming and other country pursuits in Suffolk.
By Richard Smith
THE largest gathering of rare Suffolk Punch horses in the world attracted thousands of people yesterday.
More than 60 of the traditional heavy horses were on display at Easton Farm Park, near Woodbridge, where they were put through their paces in the main ring in front of families keen to learn more about farming and other country pursuits in Suffolk.
There was also the opportunity to support the plans to set up a tourist attraction at the stud of 27 Suffolk Punch horses at Hollesley.
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The Suffolk Punch Trust has bought the stud from the Prison Service and John Marsh, project director, said: ''Since we launched the Friends of the Suffolk Punch Trust in October last year we have had more than 600 people who have signed up which is very good.''
Philip Ryder-Davies, chairman of the trust, said: ''The immediate need is to cover the running costs of the stud, estimated to be about £90,000 per year.
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''The whole site needs new perimeter fencing which will cost about £60,000. At the same time work is going on to raise approximately £1.4million to build a new access road, car and coach parking, a visitor centre and refurbish the stables and public walkways so that visitors of all ages can explore in safety.''
He added: ''The spontaneous donations from individuals and organisations is extremely generous and very encouraging.''
This was the 26th Suffolk Punch Horse Spectacular show - the venue alternates annually between Kentwell Hall and Easton Farm Park - and it attracted horse owners from Surrey, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and across East Anglia.
Mark Donsworth, show director, said: ''This is a phenomenal display and to have 66 horses here is a record.
''It is such a beautiful setting here and we have had fantastic support from the public. This is our major fundraising event of the year and it is crucial to the survival of the Suffolk Horse Society.
''Today we also have a farming pageant which illustrates farming through the seasons and, with a lot of well restored implements, we can show ploughing right the way through and give people an idea what the horses have to do.''
There was a timber snigging and balance the beam competition, a display of vintage tractors, a parade of stallions, mares, geldings, colts and fillies, a hound display by the Easton Harriers and gymkhana.
The show also included birds of prey, an art exhibition celebrating Rural Suffolk, indoor and outdoor trade stands, children's activities and side shows.