Cob Horse Temperament and Personality

When discussing a “cob” from an equine perspective, it may be a reference to either a Welsh Cob or as a type of horse in any breed. Cobs as a type are traditionally a smaller horse. They usually have a stout build to them, featuring larger joints, strong bones, and a disposition that is even and steady.

When described as a type, they are generally a common horse that is used for riding or driving.

As a group, whether breed or type, the Cob horse temperament is one of intelligence, humor, and kindness.

What to Expect with a Cob Horse

Cobs are hard-working horses. They have a certain resourcefulness to them that can get them into trouble from time to time because they’d prefer to solve their own problems. It creates an honest temperament where you know what you’re going to get from your horse. They are generally calm, collected, and trust the relationship that is built with their owner, trainer, or handler.

Cobs are also “pranksters,” especially if you get a herd of them together in one stable or pasture. They’ll bang stall toys in your direction, nip at your pants, or pretend to be stubborn to get you frustrated – all so that they can get a good laugh at your expense. It’s intended to be all in good fun, but sometimes it can be difficult to see where the joke ends and a negative behavior is beginning.

Because Cobs are generally a type more than a breed, there is a certain individualistic approach that must be brought into temperament evaluation as well. Most Cobs are laid-back and mostly docile. They have a healthy dose of common sense. Some are very outgoing and extremely social, while others are happy with a single stall mate and some daily attention from their owner.

Why Are Cobs So Playful and Friendly?

Part of the reason why Cobs have such a friendly and even temperament is because of their overall health as a type or breed. These horses are stout, hardy, and quite robust. Many even prefer to live outside throughout the entire year and hate the idea of being in a stall. This can make them easy to care for, especially for owners with families, but it can also lead to some health concerns.

There is a certain stubbornness to the Cob personality that comes into play when you’re trying to get the horse to do something it doesn’t want to do. This makes it easier to overfeed these horses because many owners bring the feed from the stall to the Cob. Then the Cob takes advantage of the extra pasture time it is given and a variety of health and temperament issues can begin to creep in.

For starters, a Cob that gets too much feed becomes extremely silly. It is like watching a kid after they’ve had their first caffeinated soda. They are running everywhere, bouncing of fences and walls, and their prankster attitude comes out in full force. 

Being consistently overfed can lead to a slowing of the horse’s attitude and willingness. Because of their size and build, being overweight makes a Cob very susceptible to laminitis as well.

To avoid these issues, it may be necessary to let a Cob graze in the pasture during the Spring and Summer with very little supplemental feed. Even if they are working hard, extra feed can be unnecessary because they are so good at caring for themselves. Look at the hooves and leg bones for signs of discomfort or lameness. If you do need to give feed, then consider restricting pasture access to avoid these temperament and health issues. 

When a Cob Personality Changes in Winter

Cobs are popular horses because they are self-sufficient. In the winter, most Cobs will grow a long coat, which is why they don’t mind being outside when it’s cold. Some of them even have feathering that gives their legs protection against injury or difficult weather conditions. This only becomes a problem if you plan on working the horse throughout the winter.

Cobs that are unclipped tend to sweat very heavily. This makes the horse more prone to sores, chills, and other weather-related conditions. If you see a Cob transition from being friendly and playful to sullen and snappish, then there’s a good chance that the horse has picked up an injury somewhere.

You’ll need to check unclipped Cobs on a regular basis for bruising, injuries, and other potential skin-related issues because their thick coat can hide them very well. It doesn’t take much for a small cut to turn into a large infection and major problem if it is left unattended. 

Why Do Cobs Have Such an Even Temperament?

Cobs have been used for centuries as working horses. Before mechanization happened, they were highly prized horses because they were so versatile. You could work a Cob out in the field, but still be able to use the horse as a driving or riding animal. It was a good, balanced investment for many families.

To be that flexible, it was necessary for the horse to have a balanced personality. You’d find many families would treat their horses like you see people treating their pets today. They were considered members of the family. This fostered a close relationship between horse and human, which was a temperament that was passed along from generation to generation.

Yet there is still a certain fire and stubbornness beneath the docile surface of a Cob’s temperament. This is likely because some Cobs were used as racehorses in the past. People who were considered working-class citizens couldn’t afford a champion racehorse breed like a Thoroughbred, so they relied on their cobs for racing instead. This helped to improve the bloodlines of the type and breed, creating more consistency within the temperament as well.

Are There “Bad” Cobs Out There?

Every horse has its own temperament. Most Cobs are generally friendly, docile, and intelligent, but there will always be individuals that are willing to take a joke too far. You’ll find some Cobs use their canniness to be hurtful to other horses or people, especially if they believe that they are the Alpha in the environment.

It can be difficult to train a Cob out of its old, unwanted habits once they have been established because of their intelligence.

For the most part, however, a Cob is an excellent choice for people who are new to the equine world. These horses can often be trusted with beginners, novice riders, and work with families because of their honesty. They have the athletic ability to go for an adventurous ride or do some work out in the field, but can also be self-sufficient when needed, and that is why they are such an attractive breed and type.