Stewardship

Agriculture

Suffolk Punch Draft Horses

The Suffolk Punch draft horse originated more than two centuries ago in the eastern counties of England. Originally and continuously bred for work, strength and willingness, their gentle disposition and strong conformation make them an ideal horse for farm and ranch work. The average Suffolk Punch is 16.1 hands and weighs between 1,400 and 2,100 pounds at maturity. Their temperament affords easy handling and their strength puts them among the most powerful of horses.

Once plentiful and in widespread use, with the introduction of heavy equipment and the disappearance of the family scaled farm, this breed has gradually become less common and increasingly at risk. As of 1990 its survival was deemed “critical” by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy with about 65 registrations annually in the US and far fewer in England.

Beginning in 1990 with just two Suffolk Punch mares, the B Bar nurtured the development and care of one of the largest herds of this heritage breed in North America. Our Suffolks worked year-round on the ranch. During winter, their daily task was to transport feed to the rest of the herd with wagon or sleigh. At times they also assisted in packing and grooming cross country ski trails or providing guests with sleigh rides and an exceptional experience ski joring. In the spring, teams were utilized to drag and harrow meadows and spread manure. Come summer, the horses proved invaluable in cutting, raking and baling approximately 100 tons of hay as well as to provide our guests picturesque wagon rides through the Basin.  In the fall they were key to our low impact approach to selective logging of timber for firewood, fencing material and ranch building projects. In addition to providing valuable service, these activities ensured the horses become familiar and at ease with every piece of equipment and every type of work available.

Our breeding program was ably managed by an exceptional man who grew up in the Bitterroot working Belgians yet while at the B Bar lost his heart to these Suffolks. During his 14 plus years at the ranch, Don Yerian selected for bloodline suitability and diversity accentuating the Suffolk Punch's power, stamina, size and sociability. By the time the program was completed and Don retired in June 2012, 63 foals had been raised, trained and placed with suitable settings and well-screened purchasers and an additional 20 although not born on the ranch had been trained and placed for work as well.

 

In March 2012 B Bar's Draft Horse Foreman and Montana Teamster Hall of Famer Don Yerian trains two young Suffolks in their daily chores. Video by Nathan Rowe.


The American Suffolk Horse Association estimates that there are now 2150 Suffolk Punch in the world today (2000 in North America, 150 in England). We are grateful to have had the opportunity to help preserve the Suffolk Punch and to promote their use as an outstanding working draft horse breed.

Click here for information on Don Yerian’s training programs  
http://hopesfarm.weebly.com

Click here for the American Suffolk Horse Association. They have information on the breed, lists of breeders and horses for sale 
http://www.suffolkpunch.com


ACTIVITIES RELATED TO Suffolk Punch Draft Horses