Name of breed: Norman Cob
Country of origin: Normandy, France
Breed origin: A breed of light draft horse that originated in the province of Normandy in northern France, the Norman Cob was developed through cross breeding various horse breeds in the area. Small horses called bidets were the original horses and these, crossed with other types, eventually produced the Carrossier Normand, the immediate ancestor of the Norman Cob. The advent of mechanisation, particularly the automobile, threatened all French draft breeds, but most Norman Cob breeders decided to cross their horses with Thoroughbreds to contribute to the fledgling Selle Francais breed, now France’s national saddle horse. This allowed the Norman Cob to remain relatively the same through the decades, while other draft breeds were growing heavier and slower due to selection for meat. Today, Norman Cobs are primarily found in the departments of Manche, Calvados and Orne, which form the area where the breed was originally developed.
Distinguishing features: A mid-sized horse usually standing between 15.2 and 16.3hh, the Norman Cob is elegant and closer in type to a Thoroughbred-cross than other French draft breeds. Its conformation is similar to that of a robust TB, with a square overall profile and short, strong back. Selective breeding has been used to develop a lively trot with lovely long strides. Their feet are round, wide and solid. This breed of horse are known to be calm and willing albeit with strong personalities. The TB ancestry gives them energy and athleticism, making them mature faster than other draft breeds.
Modern day Norman Cob: A multi-purpose breed, the Norman Cob was originally used wherever there was a need e.g. agriculture, pulling artillery, pulling mail carriages in the postal service etc. Today it is a breed used for recreational and competitive driving, its speed and endurance making it a popular choice. It is also particularly well suited for vaulting as well as riding, with nervous riders often appreciating the breed’s calm temperament.
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