‘More than just a plough horse’: Suffolk stallion to compete in one-day-event

  • A breeder hopes to show that the Suffolk horse is “more than just a plough horse” by completing a one-day-event.

    Bruce Langley Kim of the family-run Thorpeley Irish Draught and Rare Breed Stud in Market Harborough told H&H he recently took 16.3hh stallion Craikhow Hall Jensen, who weighs more than a ton, cross-country schooling for a “giggle” with his girlfriend, Georgie Burrin.

    “We decided to take Jensen and my Irish draught stallion Carrigfada Diamond to the cross-country course up the road to have a play and let them enjoy themselves,” said Bruce.

    “All my stallions standing at stud need to have fun and enjoy their lives, and Jensen thrives on work. The more you work him the better he is and he enjoys being out.”

    Bruce said Jensen “loved” the jumping and is a “natural” at it.

    Bruce is now aiming for the 70cm class at the Gawcott unaffiliated one-day-event near Buckingham on 16 June with 11-year-old Jensen, who made national news last year after making his debut on the hunting field at Illston and now regularly hunts with the Cottesmore.

    “We had been at a hunter trials and we joked I could ride Jensen at something. A few days later I got a text from Georgie saying she had entered me for Gawcott,” said Bruce.

    “Dressage will be interesting. It will be very basic, but it will be fun. Showjumping he’s popped coloured fences; we’re taking him schooling next week and he’ll have another spin cross-country before the event.”

    Bruce, who bought Jensen in 2017, said despite the jokes he wants to show that Suffolk horses are versatile and warned that the breed, which is on the endangered list, has to adapt in order to survive.

    “I’m not a heavy horse person but when I first saw Jensen I saw a smart model of a gent’s heavy hunter, I saw conformation and bone. We weren’t sure Suffolks would fit in with what we were doing at the stud but when I saw Jensen I said ‘we’re having him’,” he said.

    “My theory is you don’t plough any more with horses so you’ve got to give them another job. With Jensen being as athletic and genuine as he is he can show that these big horses do have another job.

    “If we don’t do something to keep them going they’re going to die out – it’s that simple.”

    Bruce said 10 mares, including a warmblood, are currently in foal to Jensen, whom he described as “soft as a kitten”.

    “The breed has to diversify. I don’t want them to be any smaller, or lighter-framed – I don’t want to lose what a Suffolk horse is, but we need to reinvent it,” said Bruce.

    “People often think of a great big, overweight, ginger cob when they think of Suffolks. Jensen has got condition – but he is lean and fit as a fiddle. That’s what the breed can do – they don’t have to be bulbous, it’s just how the breed has been portrayed.

    “People are starting to think outside the box now when they see what I’m doing and think ‘I do want a horse with a lot more bone, I do want one with quality conformation’.”

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