Attraction of cobs
Another attraction of cobs is that if you have an eye for the right type, you can spot a potential star many people would pass by. This is what happened with Benetton, though Avril insists that she was lucky. “He was in a local Builders North Wales dealer’s yard,” she says. “Someone had asked for a cob and decided when they saw him that he didn’t move well enough. He certainly does now, so their loss was my gain!”
The traditional cob
The term “traditional cob” is much used, but, strictly speaking, is a matter of presentation.
“For our society, the only difference between a traditional cob and a show cob is a mane, tail and feathers,” says Lynda Lodge, chairman of the British Skewbald and Piebald Association.
The jury’s still out on the true definition of gypsy cobs, which can be of any colour. However, Jacquie Bland, who owns Paintball Gypsy Cobs in Cumbria, says they tend to be shorter in the neck with a higher knee action than mainstream show cobs. As well as having their own societies – the Traditional Gypsy Cob Association holds its second annual show at The College, Bedfordshire, in September – they have plenty of devotees.
Meirion Jones is as Welsh as his name suggests, but his passion for breeding Welsh Cobs has its roots in America as well as north Wales, home of his Machno Stud.
“My parents and grandparents both had Welsh Cobs, so I grew up with them,” he says. “When I was 17 I went to work in the USA, first on a ranch in Wyoming, then in St Louis with Clydesdales for Budweiser and polo ponies. Everyone said Welsh blood was the foundation for good working stock.”
Meirion’s aim has always been to breed sport ponies and he believes the Welsh breeds can do everything and anything. “Good ones are athletic and also easy keepers – what more can you ask?” he says. “They also have character and presence.” His aim is to breed the Ferraris of the sport pony world and his stallions and mares are chosen with that in mind. At the same time, he’s strict about only having ponies with good temperaments and native hardiness. “There are no bad characters here,” he says.