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The Welsh Cob, is referred to as Section D in the stud book. This breed is brilliant in harness and makes a courageous, sure-footed hunter.
The Welsh Cob came from the base stock of Welsh Mountain pony, which was crossed with Roman imports. Improvements were made in the eleventh and twelfth centuries using Spanish, Barb type horses. These produced the Powys Cob, the remount of the English armies from the twelfth century onward, and also produced the Welsh Cart Horse, a moderate sized but powerful animal that is now extinct.
In the past, the Welsh Cobs were in demand as heavy gun horses and or mounted infantry. There was also a large trade with the big city companies such as dairies and bakeries. Then in the eighteenth and nineteenth century the Powys Cob was out crossed to Norfolk Roadsters and Yorkshire Coach Horses. Four Cob lines stemmed from all those elements with an admixture of Arabian blood. Yet today’s Welsh Cob remains a larger version of the base provided by the Mountain Pony.
Before stallion licensing was introduced, breeding stock was often selected on the basis of performance over a given distance. A favorite rout was 35 miles (56km) uphill from Dowlais to Cardiff, which was completed in under three hours!
The foundation sires of the Welsh Cob were:
Trotting Comet (1840) with a background of Welsh Cart Horse and Norfolk Roadster blood. True Brition (1830) who was by a Yorkshire Coach Horse our of a reputed Arabian. Cymro Llwyd (1850) by an Arabian out of a Welsh mare. Alonzo the Brave (1866) who was a Norfolk Roaster.
In height, anything over 13. 2 hands is accepted, but the more usual height is between 14.2 and 15.2 hands. The outline of the Welsh Cob is pretty much identical to that of the Welsh Mountain Pony, with the arresting quality head and the dished face with large eyes and wide open nostrils. A difference is in the action, which in the Cob is free and forceful, with the whole foreleg being lifted from the shoulder and then fully extended before the hoof touches ground. Also a moderate amount of silky feather at the heel is permissible but the hair must not be coarse and wiry.
The neck is lengthy and well carried, moderately lean in the case of mares, but inclined to be cresty in mature stallions. Shoulders are strong but well laid back. The back and loins are muscular, strong and well coupled. The Welsh Cob is deep through the heart and well ribbed up. The hindquarters are lengthy and strong. Ragged or drooping quarters are objectionable. The tail is well set on.
The forelegs set square and are not tied in at the elbows. The forearms are long, and strong with knees well developed with an abundance of bone. The hind legs must not be too bent and the hocks not set behind a line falling from the point of the quarter to the fetlock joint.
The hocks are large, flat and clean with points prominent, turning neither inwards nor outwards. The action is free, true and forcible. The knee would be bent and the whole foreleg should be extended straight from the shoulder and as far forward as possible in the trot, with the hocks flexed under the body with straight and powerful leverage.
Welsh Cob, because of their activity, stamina and courage, are ideal for competitive driving. A first cross to the Thoroughbred will increase the size and speed, and produces excellent hunters and high quality performance horses, many with a special aptitude for dressage. But the Cob is the natural successor to the great trotting tradition of the Norfolk Roadster and remains a supreme harness horse in its own right. The great pace of the Cobs has always been the trot.
Cobs have been exported to various countries, including Australia and New Zealand , but have not yet reached the enormous popularity of their smaller relative, the Welsh Mountain Ponies and the Welsh Ponies