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East Anglia Future 50

Suffolk Show 2018: Bungay butcher's mare takes centre stage in Suffolk horse classes

PUBLISHED: 12:42 01 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:07 01 June 2018

Karen White with overall champion Florence of Easton  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Karen White with overall champion Florence of Easton Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

This year’s Suffolk Show featured a focus on heavy horses – with a Bungay butcher’s mare claiming the top prize in the Suffolk horse classes.

John Groom said he, along with his wife Jayne and groom Karen White, was “absolutely thrilled” to win the supreme championship with his Suffolk mare, Florence of Easton.

He said: “We won everything with her at the Hadleigh Show but this is a whole different level. The Suffolk Show is the pinnacle of what we achieved.”

Mr Groom has been a butcher for 55 years, and has been keeping horses more recently.

Meanwhile, the critically endangered Suffolk Punch took centre stage at the brand new Heavy Horse Village at the Suffolk Show – the largest ever area dedicated to the iconic breed at the event.

Recent publicity about the plight of the Suffolk Punch, had brought a lot of interest at the show, according to Mark Donsworth, the heavy

horse steward. “They are part of our history agricultural heritage. It is important to keep the best of our heritage,” he said. “There is a lot of interest in the Suffolks and people are asking lots of questions.”

As Britain’s oldest native horse, the Suffolk Punch can be traced back to 1768 when it was used by farm workers to plough fields and pull heavy carts.

However, as times have changed and interest in breeding has gone downhill, the Punch has gone into rapid decline – with only 23 foals born last year and a global population of less than 500.

With dwindling interest in the breeding of working horses across the country, show organisers said it was encouraging to see an unprecedented eight teams compete in the heavy horses competition. In just one class, a total of 21 horses competed.

Holly Lutkin, 18, from Beccles, won first prize in the Percherons Yearling competition with her heavy horse, Bonnie.

She said it was good to see organisers encouraging a greater presence of heavy horses at the show.

“It’s probably the strongest Percherons class I’ve had here for quite a few years,” she said. “So it’s nice to have plenty of competition.”

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