The Norman or Normandy Cob is a relatively modern breed that wasn’t developed until the early 1900s in northern France. Thought to resemble the English Cob in conformation and capability, the Norman Cob was brought into existence through crossing of the Thoroughbred and various French draught breeds. The Norman Cob is also thought to descend from the now extinct Bidet small saddle horse.
Traditionally, the breed was widely utilised in a range of agricultural capacities, helping to transport farm supplies, plough the land and in logging. Its strength, endurance and friendly and receptive disposition made it a popular mount during the 19th and 20th centuries because it was easily handled and trained.
Not only this but the Norman Cob was the favoured equine of French postal workers, able to work long hours ferrying letters and parcels around the towns. Many Norman Cobs have also proved internationally successful at driving events and have established a concrete reputation for themselves as an all-purpose horse, seen in both leisure riding and carriage work.
The Norman Cob of today boasts a stocky build with well conformed legs, a strong head, a thick mane and tail and a short and broad structure like most heavy draught breeds. Colours vary from shades of brown to bay and the Norman’s tail was traditionally docked before the practice was illegalised in 1996.
Like the Ardennes and the Breton, two other native French breeds, the Norman Cob is bred for its meat, being considered a delicacy in parts of the country.