Friday, 7 August 2015

Model Suffolk

As you probably know by now, I adore chestnut horses. I also happen to be English. Combine the two and it's almost inevitable that one of my all time favourite breeds of horse is the Suffolk Punch. 

If you're not familiar with the breed, Suffolks are one of the oldest breeds of draught (heavy) horse in the world. Developed in the county of Suffolk in the east of England, these horses are traditionally short (for a draught, standing at about 16hh) and stocky, and only ever chesnut (spelt without the first 't' for this breed). Their legs are short and clean, meaning they lack the luxurious feathering (long hairs) on the fetlocks that many other famous draught breeds have. They are also extremely docile in nature, and have wonderfully kind faces. 

Unfortunately, Suffolks aren't as popular or well known as other draught breeds like Clydesdales, Shires or Percherons, and since the working farm horse was long ago replaced by machinery their numbers have declined rapidly and the breed is now endangered. Thankfully, there are a few dedicated breeders working to stop the Suffolk Punch going extinct, but they are still listed as critically endangered in both the UK and USA. 

I strongly believe that the entertainment industries, such as model/toy makers and television producers, can do a lot of good when it comes to raising publicity about rare and endangered breeds of animals. Oftentimes, the first time some people even hear about a rare breed is when their favourite model maker includes it in their lineup, or when they see a documentary about it on TV. And that is why I'd love to see more toys and models featuring Suffolks. 

I appreciate that there have been a few Suffolk Punch models produced by various companies in the past, but they're not really shining examples of the breed. The Britains Suffolk is woefully inaccurate, sporting a tiny head and a terrible bay coat. Although I haven't had a chance to see her in person, something about the Mojo Suffolk mare just feels off to me: I think it's those back legs, they just look too long. And Breyer's Suffolk Punch is an easily overlooked Stablemate on a discontinued mould.

Of all the model horse companies, Copperfox Model Horses is the most likely to eventually include a Suffolk Punch in their lineup, since they're exclusively set up to produce models of native British horse and pony breeds. I imagine there's likely to be more demand for other, more popular breeds like Clydesdales and Shetlands first, though. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on them, however.

What I'd really like to see is a regular run (or at least English Exclusive) Suffolk Punch on Breyer's Cedarfarm Wixom (a.k.a. Belgian Mare) mould. The mould has (I think) a conformation that could comfortably pass for a Suffolk mare, and done up in a gorgeous standard, red or liver chestnut would just scream 'Suffolk Punch'. The one thing that bothers me is the tail: the mould has a very short, show-braided tail. To me the tail looks like it's been docked (a process where the end of the tail is cut off, through the fleshy part or 'dock', so that only part is left). And since docking horses tails has been illegal in the UK for decades I don't think the mould's original tail would serve as a very good representative for a British breed. Still, Breyer have added new tails to many of their existing moulds, so it's not impossible. 

With that in mind, I've made a photoshop mock-up of a chesnut Suffolk Punch on the Wixom mould with a replacement tail. The new tail was made by simply copying and pasting sections of the mane together onto the existing tail. Please excuse my poor photoshop skills (or lack there-of); this is just a mock-up to suggest what she might look like. 
Maybe if Breyer's Best of British line continues long enough we might just see a chestnut Suffolk Punch Wixom trotting into the lineup eventually. Hey, I can dream, can't I?


  1. *Grabby hands* Please, Breyer, please please make this a real model! My favourite breed is the Suffolk Punch! I suppose they're often overlooked by toy/model companies because there's nothing particularly "flashy" about them. Shires and Clydesdales (what is with Breyer and Clydesdales - they've made hundreds of them!) have that beautiful feathering and impressive size. The Suffolk Punch just has a kind face and "boring" markings. But they get the job done! Sorry, I could rant on about beautiful Suffolks forever! I too am keeping an eye on Copperfox - they may be our only hope!

    Anyway, thank you for visiting my blog! :)

    I'll be back... heh heh heh...

    1. Nice to meet a fellow Suffolk enthusiast :) I think big companies like Breyer tend to make what they know will sell, and since most people have heard of Clydesdales and they have big flashy markings and silky feathering the models will pretty much sell themselves. On the other hand a rare breed like the Suffolk is relatively unknown, even in the UK, and is quite 'plain' in comparison, so they're not as guarenteed to sell well. That said, I haven't given up all hope of seeing a Trad. Suffolk in Breyer's lineup one day...sigh

      If I was braver and had better customising skills I'd buy a body quality Belgian Mare model and repaint her to a Suffolk. Maybe it'll happen one day, or maybe if I ever have enough money I'll commision one from a customiser. In the meantime, I can dream :)

  2. I love that horse! I could paint and sculpt a tail on a Wixom for you.

    1. That's a very kind offer, thank you. Sadly I don't have a Wixom to repaint, nor space on my shelves for one. But I'll bear you in my if I ever get one :)