If youâ€™re looking for a calm, willing horse which is also athletic and energetic, why not ride a Normandy Cob?
They are hardy French horses which resemble thoroughbreds with a more robust frame, and they are popular for driving and riding.
In fact, in 2011 more than 33% of the horses in the French driving championships were Normandy Cobs.
They are famed for the length of their striding trots, and their stud book records seal brown, chestnut, and bay colourings. Official records for the breed have been kept for almost 70 years – the first stud book was produced in 1950.
The breed was used by the French military to pull artillery and by the French postal service to deliver and pick up mail. The cob was also used widely in agriculture in Northern France.
It originated in Normandy as a cross between the small horses of the area, the bidets, and the Carrossier Normand, a now-extinct breed of carriage horse which was widely seen in the early 20th Century.
While other breeds were threatened by mechanisation in agriculture and other industries, Normandy Cob breeders crossed their horses with thoroughbreds and that contributed to the French national saddle horse breed, the Selle FranĂ§ais.
In the 1980s, breeders worked hard to stem the threat of inbreeding and genetic drift to ensure the Normandy Cob had a bright future. Now, they can be seen in different parts of France, especially in Calvados, Manche, and Orne.
Normandy Cobs are hugely popular for all sorts of equestrian pursuits because they are calm and have winning personalities.
What does a typical Normandy Cob look like?
These elegant horses generally stand between 15.25 hands and 16.35 hands high, and weigh between 550kg and 900kg.
There are large variations in weight and height throughout the breed, though, caused by the different uses for the horses.
Look for a square profile and a short back, a head with good proportions, a convex or straight facial profile, wide nostrils, and small ears.
Normandy Cobs have a deep chest, broad, angled shoulders, muscular, short legs, and powerful hindquarters. They have round, strong feet and shed their shaggy winter coats in Spring.
The most popular Normandy Cob colourings include bays with white markings, chestnut, and seal brown.
Dunka â€“ Standing at 16.3 hands high, Dunka will be five this year. She is gentle, friendly, and loves to have fun. Our visitors adore her!
Bamboo â€“ He will be four this year, and is a typical example of the calm, friendly Normandy Cob. Bamboo stands at 17 hands high, so is a large example of the breed. He is very popular with our riders.
Would you like to meet our Normandy Cobs in person? Theyâ€™re ideal horses to develop your riding skills because theyâ€™re calm and friendly. Book your French riding holiday today. You can contact us here.