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.
Meet our Normandy Cobsâ€¦
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.
Have you hankered after a week-long experience which would allow you to spend as much time as possible with horses?
If so, our intensive training week would be an ideal experience for you. Itâ€™s back by popular demand in 2018 after two courses in May and September 2017 and will help you learn about horse care, bonding with your horse, and riding skills.
For the week starting May 5, 2018, weâ€™re offering you our all-inclusive, bespoke intensive riding workshop holiday.
Alongside the long, leisurely rides for which ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re is famed, youâ€™ll receive a one-to-one training programme which we tailor specially to your individual needs.
Youâ€™ll be able to spend the entire day handling and working with horses.
This is ideal for riders who want to learn more or those who want to improve their confidence.
For some riders, a fall or a scare can knock that confidence in the saddle.
Our highly-qualified riding instructor Tanya will help you overcome your fears. She is calm, sympathetic, and has years of experience.
The intensive course will give you valuable skills including:
Groundwork â€“ the basis of riding and handling skills, with lunging, join-up, long-lining, and work on the ground.
Dressage â€“ our manege is the perfect place to learn and hone dressage skills, especially if youâ€™re interested in competitions.
Jumping â€“ always wanted to jump but have never learned how? Perhaps you need a refresher after a break of several years. Come to our intensive course where our experienced instructor will show you what you need to know.
Whatever you need, weâ€™ll tailor our course to help you. Itâ€™s all about helping you to enjoy horses and riding.
Our course is for all levels of rider, not just those who are very experienced, and you can attend whether you own your own horse or not.
Itâ€™s about developing your skills the way you want to take them. Whatever you want to do more of, weâ€™ll help you achieve that.
Weâ€™ll be offering the usual morning ride, with intensive sessions in the afternoons.
Our intensive training week always starts with Tanya discussing the groupâ€™s needs, them formulating the training.
Youâ€™ll enjoy the beautiful countryside, riding trails free of traffic, authentic local cuisine, and relaxing atmosphere, too!
If you have read this blog before, you will know that there’s no place quite like our little corner of southwest France for a riding holiday. We have everything here. The glorious weather. The stunning scenery. The mile-after-mile of traffic-free trails. And, of course, the wonderful surroundings of ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re.
But maybe you are looking for a more intensive riding experience. Not just a morning’s ride followed by a relaxing afternoon by the pool, but the chance to spend the entire day working with and handling the horses.
For one week at the end of May we’re offering an all-inclusive intensive riding workshop holiday. Here, as well as taking part in those long and leisurely daily hacks about which we have waxed lyrical before, you can enjoy a one-on-one training programme that is specially tailored to your needs.
Maybe you have had a fall, or a scare, that has hit your confidence in the saddle. No problem – you’re not alone. Tanya, who also plans all our hacks, is a highly qualified riding instructor with many years’ experience. She knows how to deal with matters such as this and can work through any confidence issues you may have calmly and sympathetically.
Alternatively, you may feel that you lack experience handling horses. Groundwork is a fundamental skill â€“ join-up, lunging, long-lining and work on the ground can bring enormous benefits to your confidence and riding. Our immersion course can help.
Or perhaps you want to work on your dressage or jumping skills. Whatever area you feel you need a little help or refresher with, we can help. That’s what our intensive all-inclusive Workshop Week, which runs from Saturday May 28 to Saturday June 4 is all about. Helping you improve your skills and confidence so that you can enjoy your riding even more.
Are you still looking for that perfect Christmas gift for the horse-riding loved one in your life who has everything? How about a chĂ˘teau?
Weâ€™re not joking.
Obviously, itâ€™s impossible to fit an entire French castle under the tree (not to mention the climate-changing amount of paper you would need to wrap one) but we think we have come up with the next best – and much more eco-friendly – thing. A gift voucher for a luxury riding holiday at ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re.
Wouldnâ€™t you love to see the look on your loved-oneâ€™s face as they open a modest and unassuming envelope on Christmas morning to see something very special like this inside? It contains the promise of a relaxing holiday next year at our friendly and luxurious chĂ˘teau in the picture-perfect Lot, riding along beautiful and peaceful trails, through enchanting villages and unspoiled tree-filled countryside.
A holiday here wonâ€™t break the bank, either. If you book your 2016 holiday at the elegant and tranquil 400-year-old chĂ˘teau before the end of December, you and your loved ones can enjoy a relaxing luxury equestrian break at 2015 prices.
Alternatively, if you have already catered for everyone else this Christmas, how about treating yourself? Surely you deserve a little luxury you-time about as far away from the daily stresses and strains of real world as it is possible to get?
Remember: if you book your 2016 horse-riding holiday before December 31, 2015, you can look forward to a wonderful break in France next year at this year’s prices.
We have enjoyed another super summer at ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re. But now, as crisp autumn in our little corner of French paradise adds a beautiful blaze of burnished gold to the trees, weâ€™re busy settling down for the winter after a busy holiday season.
The chateauâ€™s friends and guests – for that is how we think of you all – have all now headed home, leaving lasting, fond memories.
It has been our immeasurable pleasure to welcome so many of you back to ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re for another holiday – not to mention all the new friends who stayed with us for the first time. We hope you all had a wonderful time here, and we look forward to welcoming you again soon.
In fact, previous guests who book their 2016 holiday with us before the end of October can stay here at this yearâ€™s prices plus five percent discount.
We can pretty much promise that the weather will be kind next year. It is very easy to be lucky with the elements here, and summer 2015 was no exception.
The sun shone bright and warm for most of the time and the sky was that lovely cornflower blue that looks as if it has been touched-up in photographs. It was, on the whole, another perfect summer for exhilarating morning rides through the quiet Lot countryside, followed by lazy, restful afternoons by the pool. Itâ€™s safe to say that the weather did its bit in making so many holidays so special.
The scenery, too, continued to exceed expectations. It is genuinely beautiful here in the gentle, rolling hills of our corner of Lot, where enchanting villages give way unfussily to unspoilt tree-filled countryside. But, of course, youâ€™d know all about that if you have stayed here.
There is, of course still plenty to do at the chĂ˘teau, even though it is no longer holiday season.
Our riding school is open all year, even when the chĂ˘teau is closed, and the horses – who give our guests and friends so much pleasure throughout the summer – need plenty of care and attention.
Meanwhile, Tanya has been out exploring more of the stunning countryside surrounding the chĂ˘teau, in search of more routes for you to discover. She has uncovered a couple of routes for next year that she believes will be very special – although she has sworn us to secrecy for now. All we can say is that sheâ€™ll let us reveal a few details later. Hopefully, sooner, if we can persuade her.
If we canâ€™t talk her round, youâ€™ll have to discover them for yourselves next year. Just donâ€™t forget about that special offer if you book before the end of October!
We regularly boast about the gentle, peaceful beauty of the little corner of southwest France that surrounds ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re, and how it is the perfect location for a holiday hack along mile after mile of peaceful, car-free trails, under a warm sun in cornflower-blue skies.
But we also know that not everyone rides horses.
Weâ€™re often asked if there is anything non-riders can do here. The answer is plenty. The trails our horse-riders can enjoy are also open to walkers and cyclists, while the area is dotted with bustling towns and picture postcard villages that, quite simply, will take anyoneâ€™s breath away.
One of the most common questions for our non-riding guests concerns concerns fishing. Is it any good here? To which the honest answer has to be: No – fishing is not any good here.
It is much, much better than that.
We could wax lyrical about the quality of the lake and river fishing available just a 20-minute drive from ChĂ˘teau de LaumiĂ¨re – from the gorgeous and well-stocked 15-hectare Lac de Banac, to the exceptional fishing on offer in the 15km stretch of the River Lot between Saint Cirque Lapopie and Cajarc.
We could list a few of the fish that could bite at your lure – which include black bass, pike, roach, carp, pike perch, chub, perch, tench, barbeau and rainbow trout.
We could even issue something of a fishing challenge by mentioning, almost by accident, that the largest carp ever caught in Europe was landed in nearby waters.
It is probably more sensible, however, to deal with a few practical matters.
You will need a licence – or carte de peche – to fish in France. Temporary licences for holiday fishing are available for a week, or even just a day, at a time – and they are not expensive.
You can arrange a licence yourself online by logging on to the cartedepeche.fr website. It has English, German and Spanish-language sections, and is pretty straightforward. If you have any questions, however, please do not hesitate to drop us a line.
If you are flying to France, the best advice is to check with your airline about what to do with all your fishing equipment before you arrive at the airport to avoid any frustrating delays. It is permitted on flights, but usually has to be checked into the planeâ€™s hold – though certain articles may be allowed in hand luggage. Your airline will have all the information you need.
Once you have your licence (don’t forget to bring it with you, once you’ve downloaded it!) and have arrived at the chateau, everything will be in place for a perfect fishing holiday.