Meet Charlie, the special new arrival turning heads in Mettingham
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A new arrival on a Mettingham farm has caused quite a stir.
Charlie is believed to be the first Suffolk Punch foal to be born in the village in 100 years, and is one of only a handful to be born in the whole of Suffolk.
Suffolk Punches are critically endangered as a breed, with only 27 born in the whole country last year - which makes Charlie’s arrival all the more special for owners John and Jayne Groom
His mother Trinity Bea came to Mettingham in 2014, after being bought by the Grooms, along with another Suffolk Punch called Gifford.
They hope breeding the mare will help take Suffolk Punches back to their pre-war glory days.
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Mrs Groom said: “So many Suffolks got taken to pull gun carriages during the First World War, when they came back farmers urgently needed horses again.
“But they weren’t bothered what they crossed them with, so a lot of horses have got a bit of white in them from Shires.”
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Since then, the breeding programme for Suffolks has become much more strict, and any foals born with a white facial marking are not then used for breeding. It is hoped that in this way, pure-bred Suffolk numbers will increase.
Charlie, who has no tell-tale signs of any Shire blood, came into the world last month, helped along by Mrs Groom and some of her neighbouring farmers.
And he will make his public debut at the Norfolk and Suffolk shows later this year, under the watchful eye of protective mum Trinity Bea.
And while the couple hope little Charlie will do them proud on the show circuit, they are not under too much pressure.
Mrs Groom said: “We just want him to be a nice horse really, pull a cart and maybe a plough eventually, that’s what they were used for.
“They are a lovely breed and an endangered species, they need to be looked after and cherished. Suffolk is their home.”
But until the show season kicks off, Charlie is finding his feet on the farm, enjoying plenty of treats and visitors, including his namesake, Charles Aldred, a friend of the couple.
Suffolk stallion leader Mr Aldred, now in his nineties, has worked with horses his whole life, and has already given the foal his seal of approval
Mrs Groom said: “What Charlie doesn’t know about horses isn’t worth knowing.”
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