Visitors to a new equine centre opening near Woodbridge, in Suffolk, will be offered an insight into one of the world’s most endangered breeds — the Suffolk Punch.

The £1.8 million learning and heritage centre, due to open on 23 March, is part of the Suffolk Punch Hollesley Bay Colony Stud.

The centre has been funded by the Suffolk Punch Horse Trust, which launched in 2002 to expand the Suffolk Punch breed and provide education about their heritage.

“We have two superb circular walks which take you around the stud,” said manager Krystyna Smithers. “They enable you to get close to the horses as well as the beautiful landscaped grounds, which are home to Red Poll cattle and large black pigs.”

The centre will also offer educational programmes for young people and work-skills training for older age groups.

“We are working closely with organisations such as the Country Trust, which gives children from towns the chance to have access to the countryside that they may not otherwise have,” continued Krystyna.

“The value of visits like these is obvious. They teach children things that textbooks can’t.”

Although the Suffolk Punch is an icon of the countryside, dating back to the 16th century, in 1966 only nine Suffolk Punch foals were born, and there are currently less than 300 breeding horses surviving.

“The Trust is committed to preserving this superb animal for future generations,” said Fiona Johnson, Suffolk coastal and district council’s economic development officer.

“The new centre will provide education and training as well as a chance to see these amazing horses in their beautiful natural habitat.”

For more details, visit www.suffolkpunchtrust.org or the www.suffolkhorsesociety.org.uk