What Makes a Horse a Cob?

A horse cob is a particular breed of horse, in appearance resembling a large pony, but a sturdy, strongly-built horse, usually high around 15 hands and has a steady temperament.

Cobs are types of horses usually suited for beginners in this kind of activity, due to their secure standing and easy to handle temperament. Many owners consider them very placid and recommend them to their family members as first time owners. Cobs are horses small in size, with sturdy, strong short legs and are little more heavily built than other similar breeds. In total, there are three main sorts of cobs:

  • A Welsh cob, often referred to as Section D, which means that it is defined as Welsh-bread and represents the largest of all cobs, divided by sections.
  • A traditional cob, that is characterized by characterised by their colouring. They are usually piebald or skewbald. Traditional cobs may have various frames and conformation. They are usually kept with long manes and tails and are entirely feathered on all four of their legs.
  • A show cob that does not have any feathering on its limbs. This kind of cob is trained for shows and a lot of attention is devoted to the character of this type. This trait usually defines the success on shows, thus the extra focus.

When choosing a cob for the first time, the future owner should pay attention to the fact that Welsh cobs are not quite suited for first-time owners. Their character can sometimes be a lot more fiery than expected and they may be difficult to handle. However, Welsh cobs are the breed of cobs that is most desirable due to their genetics and ancestry.

The Pony and Cob Society is an organization that looks after all Welsh breeds and can provide further information that can be found on their website.

Table Of Contents

What is the difference between a horse and a cob?

The difference between cob and a horse is quite obvious, provided that cobs have shorter, more robust legs, and are less in size than an average horse. Cobs also tend to have more hair on their feet and a long tail.

A cob is actually a sub-species of a horse in a general sense and shares a lot of genetic factors with them. While horses are kept today primarily for breeding, dressage or racing purposes, cobs have a more versatile range of use. They are one of the most popular riding horses in the United Kingdom, due to their patient nature. Although cobs are larger than ponies in size, they are still smaller than their genetic cousins, horses. Even though horses are taller, look more imposing and generally more appealing to the observer‘s eye, their strength in terms of carrying weight does not differ much from cobs, due to the rounded and strong figure cobs have.

Naturally, types of horses are very versatile, so not all of these traits and measures can be applied to each one. However, horses have a more lean figure, can have a shorter temper and require a lot of work before a rider can try them out. Cobs, on the other hand, are recommended for elderly riders and require less attention to every move or sound they make.

Are Cob horses good for beginners?

Cob horses are, as mentioned, ideal for beginner and first-time riders due to their rounded and sturdy figure and easy and relaxed, placid temperament.

Ideally, the best cob for riding would be a middle-aged, trained cob, with a professional brought up by an instructor. Cobs are one of the most popular riding horses around the world because they handle the weight of any rider without much effort, keeping a calm and steady pace that provides security. Their sturdiness does not stop them from having all the right reflexes a riding horse is expected to own.

Aside from a Welsh cob, other breeds of cobs are usually bred as riding horses. The very meaning of the word “cob” means rounded, strong, and endurable.

For over several centuries cobs have been used as the main working force on the fields because of their strength and were held at very high esteem before the mechanization process began.

Cobs have lately seen a rise in popularity in various non-profit groups, such as Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA). Also, they tend to be an attraction for riders who seek horses who are responsive but with a calm temperament, shorter stature and have a steady, comfortable gait.

They are naturally an animal with a lot of presence and possess plenty of quality that refers in no small part to their Arab and Thoroughbred ancestry that mixed over time and breeding with different races of horses.

Cobs usually stop growing when they reach the age of eight.

What’s the difference between a cob and a gypsy cob?

Gypsy cob is actually one of the subtypes of a cob, produced by various breeding and intersection processes. They are also known as Traditional Gypsy cob, Irish Cob, Gypsy Horse et cetera.

Gypsy cob is also known as a vanner cob, because of the fact that these types of horses were usually used to pull wagons, vans or carts, especially by gipsies. One of the stories of their original name is that gipsies would colour the horses and covered them in feathers as a horse that is part of the show, so the army would not requisition them. In reality, gipsy cobs have the same built as regular cobs: sturdy and strong legs, a well-rounded body and extra long tales. They also have a mild temperament, allowing easy access to riders. Gypsy cobs are actually known for their versatility and the ability to suit different members of the family with different needs.

In fact, sometimes the term “gypsy cob” can incorporate all types of cobs, to those less familiar with the breed.

In nature, gipsy cobs have a steady and solid colour with white splashing on the belly of the gipsy cob. The gipsy cobs are strong, muscular, and of a medium length, containing a throat slightly deeper than compared to lighter breeds. The chest of this species is known to be broad, deep, and well-muscled. Some of them have higher knees than others, as a way of walking or running, that can vary from short and economical light walks to longer reaching strides and gallops.

What age can you break a cob?

There are various pieces of advice regarding this topic as it is a sensitive one, with different age ranges (from two years to seven), but the accepted idea of the time to start breaking a cob is around age four.

In order to successfully break a horse, the animal needs to be mature enough and the muscles of a cob need to be fully developed. Breaking a cob is and should be a gentle and gradual process, therefore it is useful even before the process starts to take a cob for longer walks and keep an eye on his reactions. Cobs that are not yet broken for riding can get scared easily and potentially hurt the owner by accident, so this activity requires caution.

One of the best and more accurate pieces of advice on how to break a cob is backing lightly at the age of three, then turning away during the winter, re-backing at the age of four and finally starting doing a bit more work with this breed. This way, the cob is not overly burdened, nor suffers any distress, but is eased into the process slowly, which provides excellent results. Although it is physically possible to start breaking a cob at the age of two, one must remember that their muscles may have not fully developed and the body can react negatively. This affects their mild and stable nature, which can cause long-lasting negative effects on a cob. In cases of Welsh cobs, it is not recommended to perform any actions until they reach the age of three.

Possibly showing the cob’s future trails and surroundings can also be a soothing factor, familiarizing the cob with its surroundings.

It takes a lot of skill and knowledge to do this properly and the way a cob is trained and broken in will stay with him his entire life. Hiring a professional trainer may also be a great approach to some, who lack the time and patience for this task.

Can Cob horses jump?

Contrary to prejudice and popular opinion due to their size, weight and musculature, cobs can be excellent jumpers and are able to jump almost as high as regular horses can.

Even though their body musculature predisposes them to work such as pulling, dragging and being worked in the field, cobs can certainly be trained to jump as well. Cobs that do jump are not able to reach the height of regular horses who, naturally, have a different body predisposition and are trained differently. When it comes to dressage or any other related activity, cobs are able to compete with competitiveness at lower levels, but there is simply no room for cob in top-level competitions. The same logic applies even to intermediate levels of competition – they aren’t built for speed or jumping and do not have the needed genetics.

With this being said, it is not impossible to train a cob to jump. It‘s commonly assumed that this type of horse is calm and sensible, but a fully fit cob can equally be forward going, fast, fiery and fun for the owner to ride. They may not do great in some disciplines, but the exception is jumping, as cobs are often capable and decent jumpers.

Although renowned for their versatility, cobs will not break any records in jumping as high as regular horses, but they will use all the training provided and focus on the task at hand.

This also includes tasks they have not performed before, such as jumping. They tend to stay focused on the task and derive their knowledge from the training provided. Most of their disciplines come from their stride and are often capable jumpers.

What makes a good gypsy cob?

Generally, a gypsy cob horse is considered a type of cob that is small in stature, solidly built horse with wide and muscular legs and is often, but not always, black and white particularly in the abdomen area.

The horses we call gypsy cobs have been developed by gipsies over many years and were called different names and breeds. They did not possess a particular, wide-spread name, nor were they recognized as a specific breed of horses.

Gypsy (or vanner horses), as they are also known), may not be considered a traditional choice dressage breeding, but they are quickly becoming a popular mount for all sorts of riders. They are strong and reliable, making them a great choice for those new to riding in general, especially elderly people who value security and safety above anything else. Thanks to their easy-going nature and the fact that they can carry any rider without an issue, they are ideal horses for novice riders.

Gypsy cobs are especially valued in the United States, because this particular breed is not native to the continent and requires a significant cost just because of transport. Gypsy cobs (vanner horses) cost between $10,000 to $40,000 in North America. In the United States, they are considered very gentle, kind, obedient and versatile. They also caught the attention of people interested in aesthetics, so gypsy cobs are considered pleasing to the eye, beautiful, and just great family horses. This explains such a high demand for them, in spite of the cost..

Adult gypsy (vanner horses) , when attained their full height, can be safely used for a range of performances. These horses are gentle and mild-tempered, and so are used in a wide variety of disciplines, including riding, driving and parades.

They can live for up to 20 years, provided that proper and adequate care is given to them over the years.

Is the cob size bigger than full?

The best and most informed answer regarding this topic is no. Cob horses are distinctively a bit smaller than their respective relatives.

Although heights among horses vary from species to species, an example that is not from natural disease or other factors is not found, yet at least.

Cobs have a relative height of fifteen hands (approximately) – 1,47 meters, but horses are most often taller, ranging from 1,50 meters to 1,8 meters.

However, cobs are larger than ponies and carry a specific strength within, even when their bodies are not fully developed and still reaching maturity. For example, the Welsh breed of cobs horse known today as the Section D highlights the musculature of these wonderful animals, classically built and shaped throughout history.

Height can be an influencing trait for cobs as well, so their size depends on multiple factors. Traditionally, they have been thought of as a small horse, above pony height throughout history.

One of the main reasons cobs are cited as suitable horses for beginners or first-time horse owners is the fact that many cob owners are docile and can be quite placid in terms of their nature, making them ideal for such endeavors.

Finally, one should mention that Welsh Cobs have their own Studbook and a long and proud lineage supported by the Welsh Pony and Cob Society.

Counting gorse years, compared to human ones, is calculated by simply adding values to the lifespan of humans. For example a child of two years of age would be equivalent to 13 human years. Or 28 horse years is equivalent to 80 years of human age.

How much does a Gypsy Cob cost?

The average price for a Gypsy/ Vanner Horse is twelve thousand and five hundred US dollars. Although they are expensive, one can find them with a more restrained budget by buying it for a more reasonable price.

Age, gender, training, conformation and pedigree are all factors that should be taken into consideration before putting a permanent price on a Gypsy Cob Horse.

However, North America is not an indigenous land to this type of horse, so the extra import many breaks the budget‘s glass sealing. For those persistent enough and living in the U.S., the price range is 10 thousand and forty thousand dollars (with the tendency to rise towards the upper limit).

Widely known for their excellent temperaments and recognized for their flashy, interesting feathering and eye-catching coats as well, Gypsy Vanner horses are quickly growing in popularity these days.

Another reason why they sort so much is due to their very nature. Families try to provide only the best for their children and other family members, so having a reliable, mild-tempered horse is a double win for the buyer and the owner that sold it is rewarded for his hard work.

There is a certain irony that these horses were likely been raised to pull caravans, but today they also make great riding horses as well.. With their calm nature, Gypsy Vanners Cobs can be well-paired with children, as well as with beginner and advanced adult riders.

Gypsies are ridden both styles – English and Western, they’re suitable for many different disciplines, from dressage to trail riding and much more

Gypsies are ridden in both styles – English and Western, they’re suitable for many different disciplines, from dressage to trail riding and much more. Because they’re often so calm and well-mannered, they have a reputation of being a popular option for a family horse that has also found a spot in the world of therapeutic riding programs.

Gypsy horses also have a natural life span of twenty to twenty five years.

How fast can a cob horse run?

Generally speaking, all horses are able to develop their top speed during gallop (the fastest run of the horse). Cob or vanner horses are no exception to this rule, averaging about 40 to 48 kilometers per hour (25 to 30 mph) as their top speed.

Galloping is not recommended at all times, as it stresses the animal and can cause serious injuries, making sure there is no debris around is also a good idea. For example, galloping a horse straight over paved roads can hurt the horse. This leads to more serious injuries such as , if done for a very long time, very frequently, and at high speeds (trot & canter). In fact, there’s one very fatal or crippling illness that affects horses that are worked hard on paved roads: laminitis.

In order to achieve this velocity, the cob hose needs to be fully developed and focused on the goal, without any interruption or perhaps mistreatment or negligence in the past,

Gypsy Cob/ Vanner also makes for a great riding horse, thanks to its laid-back temperament and mild nature.

In the United Kingdom alone, cobs are one of the most popular riding horses in the UK. They are hardy, versatile, and are able to turn their hoof to most things from low-level dressage and eventing, to winning at the Horse of the Year Show, or to driving and hacking along roads and trails.

To conclude, cob horses are made as family horses, often as a birthday present. Future first time owners would benefit the most from a horse during the time when they are 10-20 years old. Younger horses generally are not that easy to deal with nor experienced enough for a first-time horse owner.

Horses can live to 30 years plus with good care, so don’t exclude older horses from your search.

What size horse does a cob bridle fit?

There are many bridles that fit the type of various horses; the bridle used for cob horses can either be Pony Size Bridle or Full (a bridle used on regular horses).

Smaller breeds of con/ vanner horses would be able to use a bridle originally designed for ponies, due to their smaller scale. Larger breeds of cob horses use a regular bridle, made to fit ordinary horses, because the difference is somewhere around 1 inch (noseband on a cob bridle measures 11 inches, while the noseband on a full bridle measures 12.25 inches). The classic example of this kind of approach is the Welsh D-section cob horse.

However, there are a few things to watch out for, while measuring the size of the bridle:

  • The crown piece – Measuring the length of the crown piece (with cheek pieces) is required. Measure from one corner of the horse’s mouth, over the poll, to the other corner of his mouth.
  • The Browband – Measuring the length of browband the horse requires
  • The Noseband. Measuring the length of noseband is required as well
  • Throat Latch

As a generally accepted rule, halters should be able to fit multiple sizes and breeds, such as Pony, Arab horse and, most importantly, cob horse. Bridle of the cob horse also depends on its weight, but there should not be any issues. The bridle is designed in such a way to be the standard of perfection, it has a dependable and reliable function, taking into account any discomfort felt by the horse.