Suffolk Punch goes international!

A SMALL Suffolk museum is ''as proud as punch'' after being asked to link up with the International Museum of the Horse in America to broaden the appeal of the county's heavy horses.

A SMALL Suffolk museum is ''as proud as punch'' after being asked to link up with the International Museum of the Horse in America to broaden the appeal of the county's heavy horses.

The Suffolk Punch Heavy Horse Museum, Woodbridge, is believed to be the smallest museum to contribute to a major exhibition entitled All The Queen's Horses at Kentucky Horse Park this Summer.

More than 450 objects from museums in Britain have been lent to the exhibition and it is expected that up to 200,000 visitors could view the displays.

Exhibition organisers visited the horse museum above Woodbridge's Shire Hall and chose five objects which are closely identified with the Suffolk Punch horse and illustrate its background in the Suffolk countryside.


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Philip Ryder-Davies, a Woodbridge vet, said a hagstone, a horseman's coat, smock and recipe book and a set of Suffolk cart harness were chosen.

Mr Ryder-Davies said: ''A hagstone is a piece of flint with a natural hole in it and one of these was hung in the stable to ward off all manner of ills which might befall the horses and was one of the many customs which was believed in deeply by the horsemen.

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''The hagstone now on display in America is one that was hanging in the stables at Langmere Hall when the Hall was bought by Benjamin Saunders in 1900 and was rescued by Ray Hubbard, the farm's last horseman, when the horses went in 1966.''

The horseman's jacket was made for Harry Pentney, Mr Hubbard's grandfather, in about 1910. It was made out of Melton, a thick woollen cloth with a weave tight enough to keep out the rain. The smock was made in Halstead more than 100 years ago for Mr Pentney. The recipe book contains recipes for a wide range of medicines to cure horses' ailments.

The award-winning museum opened in 1994 and tells the story of a rare working horse and the deep links with rural heritage. It is open from 2pm to 5pm from Tuesday to Sunday until the end of September and opens on Bank Holiday Mondays and during the autumn half-term holiday.

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