The Normandy Cob has a long history
dating back to the small, tough Bidet horse which was around before
the Roman Empire. During the Roman Empire, the Romans crossed the
Bidet, which was essentially an Eastern horse, with their heavyweight
pack mares to produce a very serviceable horse for the military.
The Normandy Cob was developed to meet the needs of the military,
both as a remount and as a light draft horse.
During the 18th and 19th centuries,
two Royal studs were established - one at Le Pin in 1728 and the
other at Saint Lo in 1806. The Saint Lo stud became known as the
center for breeding of the Normandy Cob, and by 1976 was standing
60 Normandy Cob stallions. Gradually, through the 19th and early
20th century, the Normandy Cob began to develop into two types.
There was a lighter version, with a larger infusion of Thoroughbred
and Norfolk Roadster blood, which was suitable as a riding horse,
and was employed by the military for use as cavalry remounts. The
second type which is more common today, was the stocker and heavier
variety suitable for light draft, carriage, and farm work. Interestingly,
despite being recognized as a breed, there is no studbook for the
Normandy Cob, although their breeding is documented, and in some
cases performance testing is carried out.
The Normandy Cob of today is a versatile
and classy horse with great presence and an extravagant stride.
They are similar in conformation to the classic English cob, although
they are of a heavier build and more suited to draft work. They
have very good temperaments and are docile and gentle, while also
being lively and energetic when required. They have a plain but
sensible head, a short, muscular neck set on good shoulders, and
a wide, deep chest. Typically they have a short back and are compact
through the body, the croup is rounded, and the legs extremely sturdy
and strong. They have a very powerful build and frame, but are not
classed among the heavyweights of the draft category. Generally
they have minimal feathering on the legs and have a characteristic
energetic, free-flowing trot. The Normandy Cob is always chestnut
or bay and stand between 15.2 and 16.3 hh.
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