The Norman Cob or Cob Normand is a breed of light draught horse that originated in the region of Normandy in northern France. It is of medium size, with a range of heights and weights, due to selective breeding for a wide range of uses. Its conformation is similar to a robust Thoroughbred, and it more closely resembles a Thoroughbred cross than other French draught breeds. The breed is known for its lively, long-striding trot. Common colours include chestnut, bay and seal brown. There are three general subsets within the breed: horses used under saddle, those used in harness, and those destined for meat production. It is popular for recreational and competitive driving, representing France internationally in the latter, and is also used for several riding disciplines. The Normandy region of France is well known for its horse breeding, having also produced the Percheron and French Trotter. Small horses called bidets were the original horses in the area, and these, crossed with other types, eventually produced the Carrossier Normand, the immediate ancestor of the Norman Cob. Although known as one of the best carriage horse breeds available in the early 20th century, the Carrossier Normand became extinct after the advent of the automobile, having been used to develop the French Trotter, Anglo-Norman and Norman Cob. In its homeland, the Norman Cob was used widely for agriculture, even more so than the internationally known Percheron, and in 1950, the first studbook was created for the breed. The advent of mechanisation threatened all French draught breeds, and while many draught breeders turned their production towards the meat market, Norman Cob breeders instead crossed their horses with Thoroughbreds to contribute to the fledgling Selle Français breed, now the national saddle horse of France. This allowed the Norman Cob to remain relatively the same through the decades, while other draught breeds were growing heavier and slower due to selection for meat. Between the 1970s and 1990s, the studbook went through several changes, and in the 1980s, genetic studies were performed that showed the breed suffered from inbreeding and genetic drift. Breed enthusiasts worked to develop new selection criteria for breeding stock, and population numbers are now relatively stable. Today, Norman Cobs are mainly found in the departments of Manche, Calvados and Orne.
Also known as
This breed is also called Cob Normand, Norman Cob as well as Norman Horse.
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