Grown Here at Home: Floyd forester gives history of Suffolk horses
Jason Rutledge knows all about Suffolk horses. He grew up around them and they’re a big part of his life’s work as a forester. He uses them for logging. These horses are pretty special, and it’s not just because of the work they do. The breed originates from Suffolk and Norfolk in eastern England, dating back to the 1500s. They’re rare.
"There’s about 600 of them left in North America. There’s about 60 of them born every year. I’m working as hard as I can to reproduce them. They’re very hard to reproduce -- only about a 64% reproduction rate annually," explained Jason Rutledge, owner and operator of Ridgewind Farms Suffolks.
Jason has had as many as 40 horses on his farm. Now he has about 10. They usually begin working at age three or four, but for Jason, training begins from the day they’re born by a process called imprint training.
"When a baby horse stands for the first time and I put my arms around it and it relaxes, I relax and I go woo woo. I teach that horse from the time it’s born to accept that it can relax and stand still. Imprint training is very important," said Jason.
Suffolks have tremendous bodies and strength, but Jason says it’s also their work ethic and willingness to serve, that make them excellent horses.