Writtle College is planning to establish its own breeding herd of one of Britain’s most endangered equine breeds, the Suffolk Punch.

The Suffolk Punch is on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s endangered list, and at the turn of the 21st century, there were less than 200 examples of the breed in the world.

Hollesley Bay Stud, home to the 24-strong Colony herd and one of the largest breeding operations for the Suffolk Punch, will be assisting the college with its new initiative.

Ken Hoyle of Writtle College said: “We’re talkingto the head groom at Hollesley Bay Stud about supplying some stock to start our own herd. We feel that there is an excellent opportunity to use a traditional local heavy horse breed for teaching and research purposes.”

The new developments have come about following Chelmsford Borough Council’s announcement that the rare breed will have a role at Hylands House, an estate local to Writtle College which is awaiting a lottery funded refurbishment.

The council has applied for £3m lottery cash to complete the work, which will include the refurbishment of the house’s georgian stables. If the lottery grant is successful, visitors to the estate will see the heavy horses pulling harrows and haymaking machinery as well as providing public carriage rides.

Judith Phillips, chairman of the Suffolk Horse Society and owner of Kentwell Hall, a farm museum which features the breed in its traditional role, commented: “With their placid nature and distinctive appearance, Suffolks are ideal horses for tourist venues. It is also most encouraging that Writtle College is planning to breed Suffolks – there is high demand for the animals but all too few breeders.”

If the funding application and restoration programme goes according to plan, the first visitors will see real horsepower at work at Hylands House in the summer of 2005.

Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (16 January), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.