If you’re looking to get a horse with a sturdy build and a friendly nature, a cob horse may be the solution. But you need to know the variety of cobs that will suit your exact needs. It’s also essential to note that cob isn’t a horse breed; it’s a type of horse. But some horse breeds have the word ‘cob’ attached to their name.
The British Show Horse Association clarifies what constitutes a cob with this definition: “an animal with short legs, and with quality substance and bone, capable of conveying substantial weights. A cob must be gentle enough and ideal for both elderly and nervous riders. Cobs should have a shapely neck, full, generous eyes, well-defined wither, and well-muscled body.”
History of Cob Horses
Cobs existed long before their recognition as a horse type. Before the invention of machinery, landowners preferred using cobs to work in the fields due to their adaptability and innate strength. Working-class individuals who couldn’t buy thoroughbreds (due to their high cost of purchase and maintenance) used cobs as racehorses. This versatility helped to improve their bloodline, as the best performing racehorses became the most famous breeding horses.
However, in the early 1900s, fighters used cobs for war, and most of them died in battle, which caused a decline in their population. Fortunately, from the mid 20th century onwards, a rise in leisure riding preserved the cobs. To date, they still serve primarily as leisure riding horses.
Temperament and Appearance
Cobs have a thick and sturdy build. They have a steady temperament and stand about 15 hands high. A cob horse has large, intelligent eyes, short ears, and a small head like a big pony, but it’s taller than an average pony, whose height is usually around 14.2 hands high.
They have relatively short legs compared to their stature, giving them a sturdy and compact appearance. Their muscular quarters aid their jumping performance, while their deep chests aid strength under harness and speed. Cobs are typically sure-footed equines, thanks to their dense hooves and strong bones. They’re also generally curious, intelligent, and playful. A happy cob that feels secure in an environment usually proves to be a capable mount and an exceptional company. Due to the sturdy build of cobs, large adults can easily ride them. Unlike draft horses, they’re not too tall to climb on and ride. While cob owners can take their horses out on a smooth and safe ride, the cobs can occasionally be temperamental.
Cobs mostly serve as pleasure riding mounts both in harness and field hunting. When shown, cobs often roach or hog their mane.
Show cobs in the United Kingdom are in categories depending on their sizes. Also, there are strict dress codes for the riders. The show cobs usually perform in jumps and flat racing. In North America, Welsh Cobs and Gypsy Vanners used in shows must have leg feathering and natural manes.
While shopping for a tack, especially bridles and halters, you may find some marked ‘cob-sized.’ A marked tack cob refers to a bigger horse than a pony, but smaller than an average-sized horse. If you have an Arabian, Appaloosa, Morgan, Quarter horse, or other more compact, smaller riding horse, a cob size is considered the ideal size to purchase.
Popularly known as Section D Welsh Cobs, these horses are the most common type of riding cob horses. They have a flashy movement, and they’re the only cobs that show full tails and manes in competitions. There are four kinds of Welsh Cob: the Welsh A, Welsh B, Welsh C, and Welsh D. Welsh A’s are the smallest while Welsh Section D’s are the largest.
Norman cobs are light draft horses originally from Normandy province in Northern France.
You can find traditional cobs (also called ‘Gypsy’ cobs) in ‘colored’ horse categories. Roman travelers mostly used them to pull caravans, but they now popularly serve as showing, dressage, and driving horses.
With feathery feet and long flowing manes, you can easily mistake them for Clydesdales or miniature shires, and they come in a wide variety of sizes and colors.
It’s essential to distinguish between each of these cob types. While cobs are popular for being suitable mounts for first-time riders, some aren’t fit for new horse owners. For instance, Section D Welsh can be sharp and quite fiery and isn’t classified as a suitable mount for a new or less confident rider.
Are Cobs Easy to Maintain?
Maintaining cobs is very easy. They can live outdoors in almost all weather conditions with good grass available as they don’t require too much supplementary food. But they may need a rug whenever the weather temperature is below freezing.
It’s easy for cobs to overfeed, resulting in problems with their mental and physical well-being. If their diet is too rich, they could develop laminitis. In the summer, ensure to limit their consumption of rich grass, and reduce their intake of high calorific grain and hay during winter. If you need to give them hard food, it’s usually best to provide a non-heating mix intended for ponies (a mixture without oats) instead of using a horse mix.
However, it’s essential to note that cobs love to graze all the time. You can use their weight to measure the quantity of food they require.
Get a Horse Rider’s Insurance
After finding the ideal cob, the next step is to get insurance for yourself. Although cobs generally seem to have a calm temperament, they can spook and throw off the riders like other horses.
A horse rider insurance can provide cover if you or your horse gets injured while out riding. Being out of funds for treatment after a terrible fall is the last thing you can think of.