Cobs are…

For those who aren’t horse people – Cobs are a type (not breed as such) of horse. They tend to be rather hairy. The exception to this is the Welsh cob, which is a breed.

Cobs are…slow, ploddy, not much good for anything except hacking around the countryside on. Or driving. Or that’s what a lot of people think. And, up until a point last year, so did I.

In all honesty, the only cobs I’d ridden before had been riding school ponies who were dead to the leg.  As far as I was concerned, all cobs were tarred with the same brush. I didn’t want something that was going to whizz off with me, but at the same time, I wanted to ride something a little more lively than a cob.

I rode well into my teens, then stopped, due to a combination of being unable to find a new riding school, and exams. After a while, the thought of riding again had faded from my mind. I spent the next  ten or so years not even considering about getting back in the saddle.

A chance encounter would change that.

I started college in my twenties. Did three weeks of work experience in the summer at the end of the first year, and two weeks work experience at the start of the second year.

Completed the three weeks at my local Riding for the Disabled Centre. The centre provides horse riding for children and adults with various mental and physical disabilities. Most of the ponies are cobs. The only two who aren’t are a little ratbag of a Sheltland x, with the other being either a Welsh or Fell pony.

I, along with other volunteers, had to bring the ponies in from the field in the morning, groom them tack them up and help the riders mount. It is hard, physical work, and you do need to be fairly fit. I loved it. It was a chance to be around horses again. Alright, I wasn’t riding, but didn’t really mind that.

After the three weeks were up, I decided to stay on. At times, it could be a bit overwhelming, but I coped. The thought of riding still didn’t occur to me, although I knew that volunteers could ride on occasion.

December 2014 rolled round. The first lesson of the day had been canceled, and I, along with other volunteers, were standing around talking when I got asked if I’d like to ride in the next lesson. In all honesty, I hadn’t even considered the possibility of being asked to ride. But, decided to grasp the bull by the horns and said yes.

The cob I rode in that lesson was B. As soon as I was mounted, and started walking round the school, I revised my opinion about all cobs being slow, ploddy and dead to the leg. B is very responsive to the rider’s leg aid. I only had to apply the lightest pressure with my legs, and he’d respond. While the other riders were mounting, I rode B round, getting used to his movement and getting him to listen to what I wanted him to do.

That first lesson wasn’t perfect. I had a few problems getting B to stop, though that was my fault, rather than his. No trotting, mainly because none of the other riders were up to it, and I didn’t want to.

As the weeks went on, I started building up more confidence. I managed a few trots on B. Then I moved on to a different pony, called Max. I’m still riding him. Only on Thursday mornings, and only during term times, but enjoy every minute.

And I’ve completely changed my outlook on cobs as well. Won’t be judging any breeds by how they look in future!

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