A cob is a category of horse that is characterized as being strong, small, and with big joints. The term is used to describe individual horses rather than a specific type, although there are some cob species. Species that are commonly called cob horses include the Welsh cob, Arabians, and Morgans. Standard characteristics of a cob horse include a size that is larger than a pony but smaller than a regular horse, relatively short legs, and a strong build.
For a horse to be officially classed as a cob horse, it needs to pass several different criteria. Firstly, the horse must be taller than 14.2 hands. A hand is a unit of measurement equal to 4 inches (10.16 cm). The maximum height of a cob horse is 61 inches (115 cm), and the horse needs to be able to carry or pull large and heavy loads. Cob horses are often given a roached or hogged mane, meaning that the hair has been removed.
One of the most common cob species is the Welsh cob. These horses are considered to be the typical size and shape for a cob horse and are commonly seen in shows across the US and UK. When a Welsh cob is being shown, it has a full tail and mane, which is unusual compared to other show cobs. Colored cobs are also often seen in shows and are sometimes used for jumping.
There are many uses for a cob horse. Driving horses are often cobs, for example. These are horses that are used to pull carriages or other vehicles. There are also many cob horses that are used for show. Recreational riding is another potential use of a cob horse, especially amongst the disabled population in the UK.
Show cobs are divided into three separate categories according to their height and strength. These categories are lightweight, heavyweight, and maxi cob. Usually a cob will be shown with a pulled tail and roached manes. Any rider who takes his or her cob horse to a show is expected to conform to a strict set of rules regarding dress depending on the time of day.
Working cobs are also shown in competition. In a working cob show the horses must jump over fences before being put through their paces on flat ground. The best horses often go to more prestigious shows where the jumps are usually raised in order to increase the competition.