The Cob Horse
The cob horse is not actually a breed like many other types of horse such as the Appaloosa; as with Hunters, Hacks and Polo Ponies, the term which has become the name of the horse is really just a category of different horse body types. In the United Kingdom, the term ‘cob’ may also be used to describe a common, un-extraordinary horse used for everyday riding.
To be classified as a cob, the horse must be taller than the pony height of 14.2hh, but no more than 15.3hh. The Section D Welsh Cob is said to embody all the conformation qualities that are desirable in a good cob, being short-legged, compact, having substantial bone, a sensible head with large eyes, a crested neck, a defined wither and clean hocks. The rulebook of the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) permits cobs with roman noses, and specifically requires their manes to be hogged. Cobs may be any solid colour, and the usual white markings are permissible.
It is traditionally (and humorously) said that the best cob should have ‘the head of a lady and the backside of a cook’. They are popular for driving, showing and recreational riding; in recent years they have been widely used by the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) due to their responsiveness, cool heads, lack of height and easy gaits.
Show cobs can be registered into three different divisions which categorise them based on their height and carrying abilities. The categories are: lightweight, heavyweight and maxi. When cob horses are shown, their manes must be hogged, their tails pulled and their legs trimmed; they can be ridden side-saddle or astride. There is also a working cob class where the horses are expected to clear a series of fences and then display their paces over a flat stretch of ground.
Temperament wise, cob horses are usually very sweet and gentle, having very willing natures; they are real gentlemen (or -women!) and will do almost anything to please the rider atop them. Good cobs horses are frequently bred when Irish Draught and Thoroughbred horses are crossed; these ones in particular make good hunters.