Rare Suffolk Punch draft horses to demonstrate skills in Dublin
North American Suffolk Punch Spectacular to be held at Dublin Fairgrounds
To say Jason Rutledge is a fan of the rare Suffolk Punch draft horse is an understatement.
"The Suffolk Horse is different, firstly because it is so rare. There are so very few of them. There were only 51 horses registered in North America last year," said Rutledge, the owner of a farm atop Bent Mountain in Floyd County, where he owns 16 of the smallish draft horses.
"The world has more pandas than Suffolk Punch horses," he said. "They are the easiest horses to work with and if you're going to work with horses, why not choose the one that is most willing to do things with you?" Rutledge said.
Rutledge jokes that sometimes he introduces himself as a "suffoholic."
He is well-known in the region as a horse logger, preferring horses over machinery as a method of manicuring local forests, culling the worst trees to make room for the strong ones. And no horse would do for him, but the hard-working Suffolk Punch.
When most people think about work horses they think of the Clydesdales, which are much bigger. The Suffolk Punch is a smaller breed, but in some terms, more honest.
"The Clydesdale was a show horse. Because it has a lot of action," said Rutledge. "The Clydesdale and the Shire, the two biggest draft breeds, were originally developed for carrying knights in armor through a field of foot soldiers."
Rutledge said that the Suffolk horse is different from all the other draft horses in that they were never used for the show ring. "So they don't have exaggerated motion and action. They're built for efficiency, not for flash," Rutledge said.
He explains that the horses have to be stout to perform their jobs.
Rutledge likes to quote Winston Churchill who said, "There is something good about the outside of a horse, for the inside of a man."
As for his own commitment to the breed, Rutledge is equally eloquent.
"They give me a sense of purpose. They keep me present. They keep me real and present where I'm at. They are honest. They give me a good response ... they're just really wonderful creatures," he said.
The North American Suffolk Punch Spectacular will be held October 5, 6 & 7 at the New River Valley Fairgrounds in Dublin. Admission is $10 per day or $25 for three days.
This is the website for the Suffolk Punch Spectacular https://northamericansuffolkpunchspectacular.com/
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