The Welsh Cob was bred out of the need for a sturdy animal that could turn its hoof to just about anything. Traditionally they were used as working animals and some still are, but today they are most appreciated as quality riding and driving animals which combine all-round ability with reliable temperaments.
The ancestor of the mighty Welsh cob is the diminutive Welsh Mountain pony, today known as Section A. In spite of their small stature, they were and are sturdy ponies, capable of carrying loads far greater than their size would suggest. Nevertheless there was always a demand for bigger horses and this demand increased in the mid-16th Century as Henry VIII wanted horses for war, meaning bigger horses. He ordered a cull of all mares less than 13 hands high and all stallions less than 15 hands high. Fortunately for the little Welsh Mountain Ponies and other native breeds, there was little incentive to enforce this in the remote areas many of these ponies called their home, where they were very useful work animals. There was, however, an incentive to breed larger animals. Hence the tiny Welsh Mountain ponies were crossed with a variety of larger breeds some chosen for refinement (such as Arabs and Thoroughbreds) and others for their strength. The result is the Welsh Cob, a true gentle giant (at least in comparison to the other native breeds) noted for its versatility.
Historically the Welsh Cob was a hard worker, which was a good riding and driving horse. Today some Welsh Cobs still work in areas where it is more practical to use a horse than a machine. For example their strength enables them to haul logs on steep hills where it would be simply impossible to take a tractor. They are also popular in Wales' trekking centres as they are large enough to carry adults in comfort and gentle enough for them to be safe while still being sure-footed.
Unlike the other Welsh breeds the Welsh Cob has a minimum height requirement of 13.2 hands with no upper height requirement. In practice it is rare for them to exceed 15 hands or so. All whole colours are permitted. Interestingly, while grey it a common colour for the other Welsh ponies it is much less common for the cobs, although it is perfectly permissible. Although they can exceed 14.2 hands high they are still classed as ponies and have pony-like features, albeit particularly sturdy ones. The head is typical for Welsh ponies, with a dished face, large eyes and short ears. Stallions tend to have very thick, muscular necks, mares and geldings less so although they are still strong as is the body with powerful hind-quarters and relatively thick legs. The Welsh Cob does have full feathering as well as a thick mane and tail. The tail is set high and can be raised when the cob is excited. Even though the Section D is the largest and sturdiest of the Welsh breeds, they still have a refined look in comparison to other animals of cob type.
The Welsh Cob is an intelligent and friendly animal, which is unlikely to cause any concern provided that it is well treated. In fact one of the reasons why the Welsh Cob is so popular as an all round family pony is because they are gentle enough for children and inexperienced adults to ride but more than capable of performing to a level to satisfy more experienced riders. The Welsh Cob is anything but a dull and plodding ride. While they will go gently when required, they generally thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to show off what they can do. It's worth remembering that Welsh Cobs were once used for races. In fact in South Wales there is a famous race route which runs for 35 miles uphill and the cobs would regularly cover this in under 3 hours. While they will never match the lighter breeds for pure speed, they can move a whole lot more quickly than many people realize and can do so comfortably and sure-footedly. Their power and courage makes them capable jumpers and at the same time they are very nimble. As herding horses they needed to be able to change direction very quickly.
Welsh Section D Health
Welsh Cobs are hardy and healthy animals, which are generally free from chronic or genetic health issues. Apart from injury, the only real cause of possible concern is the effects of over-feeding, including obesity and laminitis, both of which need to be taken seriously. Be very careful if giving hard feed and even if not be ready to keep a close watch on the cob's weight. Sometimes simply having constant access to rich pastures is enough to trigger these problems in which case access will have to be restricted either by putting the cob into a paddock with less grass or keeping them stabled for part of the time in summer. If possible this is best done in the middle of the day, which will give them relief from heat and flies.
Caring for a Welsh Section D
As you would expect from an animal used to surviving in the Welsh mountains, the Welsh Cob is a hardy breed, which can live out all year round. They will grow thick coats in winter, but if the cob is to be worked heavily they will need to be clipped and depending on how extensively they are clipped that may mean stabling them at night. Like all horses they will need regular grooming and care for their feet. They will also need to be wormed regularly. Even though they may not need fed, they will still need access to clean water at all times and will appreciate a salt lick in the field or stable. They also need company and exercise. While turning out with other horses can help with both of these, the intelligent cobs enjoy the stimulation of going out with their rider and so benefit
Click 'Like' if you love Welsh Section Ds.