American Suffolk Horse Association
American Suffolk Horse Association
Don & Christa McKee’s Clearview Stock Farm in Mennedosa, MB, Canada. Photo by Christa McKee.

American Suffolk Horse Association

The American Suffolk Horse Association contact:

Teresa J. Bishop facebook
920 South 6th Street
Burlington, IA 52601
Phone: (319) 759-4040
Office hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 8am-4pm Central Time

from the website:

Today’s best-known breeds of draft horses are said to date back to the great war horses of Medieval times. But while these great titans clashed in mortal combat, the quiet farmers of eastern England went about developing their own breed of heavy horse, the Suffolk Punch. This one breed is today the least known to Americans, and yet perhaps has more qualities appealing to the American breeder and draft horse employer than any of the better-known breeds of draft horses.

The homeland of the Suffolk horses is Norfolk and Suffolk counties. It is bordered on the north, east and south by the North Sea and on the west by the Fens. Isolated from their neighbors, the farmers of Suffolk independently developed breeds of livestock to fit their special way of life. To plow the heavy clay soil they needed an agricultural horse with power, but also stamina, health, longevity, and docility. So these fine husbandmen produced the Suffolk horse and bred him for the attributes that fulfilled their needs.

The Suffolk farmer used his horses to till and harvest his own land, so seldom did he have horses to sell. This not only kept the Suffolk relatively unknown but also pure, remaining unchanged and true to his original purpose: to be a strong and faithful worker for his master. Of all the draft breeds, the Suffolk is one of the oldest in existence with records dating back to 1880. Crisp’s Horse of Ufford, the foundation stallion of the breed was foaled in 1768.

Suffolks are large, symmetrical and uniform in color and type. Their frames are supported by clean, dense bone. Due to their extreme draftiness, the legs of the Suffolk appear short and are strongly muscled in forearms and gaskins. They are placed well under the horse and are free of long hair. Their excellent feet are round, of fair size and wear extremely well, shod or unshod.

Suffolks possess intelligent heads with active ears, powerful and arching necks that are clean cut at the throat. The shoulders are inclined to be upright, suitable for power rather than action. The back is short and strong, the ribs springing high from the backbone. The quarters are long and smooth to the root of the tail, which springs higher up than in other breeds. The hipbones are wide apart but smoothly covered, the croup usually level.

Depth and thickness from the withers to the leg are essential and a Suffolk should be as deep in the flank as over the heart.

Characteristically the whole appearance of the Suffolk is a pleasant, roundly modeled whole that pertains, like the singleness of color, to no other breed. The average height of a Suffolk horse is 16.1 hands, but many stallions may stand up to 17 hands and more.

Their color is chestnut, ranging in shade from light golden to dark liver. White markings occur, but in general are not as prominent as in other breeds, most of them being confined to a star or snip and white ankles or fetlocks. No other color is tolerated or is admissible to registry in the Stud Book. The beauty of the Suffolk is best summed up in the words of the writer, Marguerite Henry, when she said: “His color is bright chestnut — like a tongue of fire against black field furrows, against green corn blades, against yellow wheat, against blue horizons. Never is he any other color.”

American Suffolk Horse Association
Clarence Marshall of Jenks, OK, picking corn with Hank’s Blue Moon Kate & HBM April at an ASHA event. Photo by Toni Albers.

History of the American Suffolk Horse Association

by Zelda Gagliardi of High Springs, FL

The first Suffolk Punch draft horse arrived in North America in 1865, going to Canada. All the Suffolks who were offspring of those imported were registered with England’s stud book until the American Suffolk Horse Association was first incorporated on February 17, 1911, in Illinois.

Alex Galbraith, W. L. Ellwood and A. Graham Galbraith, the initial signers, stated “the object for which it is formed is the collection, revision, preservation and publication of the history and pedigrees of pure-bred Suffolk stallions and mares, under such regulations as may be prescribed by said organization.” They also determined the Association would be serving the United States and Canada.

Samuel Insull of Hawthorn Farms, Libertyville, Illinois, and Alex Galbraith of DeKalb, Illinois, served as President and Secretary/Treasurer respectively for many years. When Mr. Galbraith stepped down as Secretary/ Treasurer, Mr. Insull’s personal secretary, Mr. R. P. Stericker, took over those duties for the Association until the ‘downfall’ of Mr. Insull. Soon afterward, Mr. Stericker died. The paperwork was misplaced, and some records destroyed.

In 1931 the Association reorganized internally and new leadership was installed. At that time, Mr. J. G. Truman, of Truman Farms in Bushnell, IL, was at the helm serving as President and later as Secretary/Treasurer, until his retirement. It took three years of searching to retrieve the Association records as well as the Seal. Luckily, one person, an employee of the building that housed Mr. Insull’s office, had the thought that these things should not be destroyed. He just did not know who should get them, until Mr. Truman’s efforts found him.

With the help of Mr. Ralph Poulton, the printer of the Breeders Gazette in Indiana, the Suffolk Bulletin was published in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. This bulletin was sent to anyone the least bit interested in the breed, increasing interest.

Then came World War II and the influence of the tractor on the farmer. The Association declined and stopped functioning again in 1949. Final dissolvement occurred on October 23, 1952, by the State of Illinois. This is when Mr. Lloyd Wescott, serving as President of the Association, owner of Mulhocaway Farms in Clinton, New Jersey, decided to take on the paperwork for anyone who might be wanting to keep their records updated. Gone were the days of large numbers of Suffolks at State Fairs and The Livestock Exposition in Chicago.

In 1954, there were only two breeders, Ben Ruescher and Orville Oesch, registering Suffolks with the Association. Numbers of Suffolks were falling rapidly. In the states it was believed there were less than 25 mares with only two breeding stallions, Brewster’s Million and King Romeo.

American Suffolk Horse Association
3670-M B Bar Misty (near) & 3507-M Rimrock Jubilee driven by Boyd Handley of Burnt River, ON, Canada. Photo by Toni Albers.

After years of writing and searching for other owners of Suffolks, Mr. Oesch received a letter from Mr. Wescott stating that Dr. Ben Green of Texas was asking for all the files and papers the Association had so he could create a Library. Mr. Oesch did not want this to happen. He quickly let Mr. Wescott know he wanted to reorganize the Association and get it going again. He and Edwin Henkin from Lynden, Washington, set to work. They secured Directors, “incorporating in Washington state in May 1961, by Mr.’s Keenan, Oesch, Rudd, Wroblewski and Henkin.”

Following the rules of incorporation, the Association held its first meeting in fifteen years on November 26, 1961 near Hannibal, Missouri. Five people attended this meeting along with eight by proxy. Dr. Green became President, Mr. Oesch became Vice President and Mr. Henkin the Secretary/ Treasurer. The first elected Director was Mr. Farrell McNaughton of Westboro, Missouri.

Also involved were Mr. Robert Keenan of Wyoming, Mr. Glen Wuester from Kansas, Mr. Merwin Duncan of Idaho, Mrs. Bazy Tanksersly and Mr. Simon Swartzentruber, both of Maryland, Mr. Ben Ruescher, Mr. Woodrow Wroblewski, Mr. Uri Hochstetler of Pennsylvania, Mr. Frederick Rudd from Nebraska, and Mr. Reginald Hoskins of Ontario, Canada, each expressing strong interest and support for the Association.

With this new Board of Directors, the numbers of Suffolk gradually began to increase. Articles in Ag Magazines brought new owners. Mr. Ira Lange imported some Suffolk, impressing Mr. William Hardt who also imported some Suffolks. Before long the bloodlines started to spread out and even more owners began breeding the Chestnut Horse.

The Association has seen strong influences in the breed by large and small breeders alike. Brewster’s Million was foaled to a small breeder, but nearly every Suffolk today has his DNA. With the help of owners in Canada who were and continue to register their stock, the Suffolk has made a comeback.

Mr. Henkin wrote his last Newsletter in April 1974, which was a bumpy year with no permanent secretary. In April 1973, Maury Telleen was elected into the position but passed on it due to his professional work load, so Mr. Henkin continued the duties. Jerry Coughlon took over in 1974, but in 1976 the Association was again looking for a Secretary. This is when, in 1977, Mary Margaret Read stepped forward to do the job (without pay for many years). Her service to the Suffolk has lasted since. Mary Margaret will be retiring in April, 2019. During those 40 plus years, the numerous directors, owners and breeders increased the numbers of Suffolks.

This year, the Association lost President Dr. William Skog in January, but it continues to move forward. The American Suffolk Horse Association has over 150 members from all over Canada and the United States, and we have more owners than members with over 900 Suffolk. With continued determination and support for the new Secretary, Directors and Breeders, and those to come, the Suffolk horse will continue pushing onward.

A side note: During the time of looking for Suffolk owners, Mr. Oesch heard the American Shire Horse Association was also not functioning. He found those records and paperwork. He retrieved them from near Fenton, Missouri. Mr. Henkin also helped reorganize that Association and for years the newsletter was the Suffolk-Shire Newsletter written by Mr. Henkin. He served as the Secretary/ Treasurer for both Associations. He put in a lot of years of work without pay and both groups shall be forever grateful to Mr. Edwin R. Henkin. Even though neither the Suffolk nor Shire horse worked out for him; he went on to raise award winning Clydesdales. Thank you Ed.

American Suffolk Horse Association

Longtime ASHA Secretary Mary Margaret Read is retiring in April after 40+ years of dedicated service!

I first met Mary Margaret at the 1995 Horse Progress Days held in Northern Indiana and have worked the ASHA booth at about 20 of the HPD events with her and Rodney since, as well as serving on the ASHA board with her for several years.

Mary Margaret has always been passionate about the Suffolk breed and maintaining the American Suffolk Horse Association as an effective and authoritative voice for the breed. I have always found her to be a warm, friendly person who has a ready smile for everyone, including folks who are upset with her because she won’t do things their way. While she could be stern and unyielding when it came to ensuring dues or late fees were paid before one could conduct business with the association (husband Rodney included), she has always been more than willing to spend countless hours of her own time helping members and non members research pedigrees and registration papers to insure the information she provided was correct.

Mary Margaret firmly believes the accuracy of the ASHA’s books are fundamental to maintain trust in the registration papers and faith that horses offered for sale are who they are claimed to be. To this end she can be relentless in insisting paperwork be correctly filled out and all procedures followed as specified in the by-laws.

She has also spent a lot of time gathering information and documents about ASHA history to insure it was not lost over time.

Mary Margaret will be sorely missed in the one person office she has so ably run for 40 years.

— Jerry Jensen of Scottville, MI (past board member)