Cobs are…slow, ploddy, not much good for anything other than hacking around the countryside on. Or so a lot of people seem to think. And, up until a certain point last year, I thought the same.
In all honesty, the only cobs I’d ridden before had been riding school ponies who’d been dead to the leg. As far as I was concerned, all cobs were tarred with the same brush. I didn’t want a pony 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 thinking 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 riding lessons 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 toe rag of a Shetland x, with the other being either a Welsh or Fell pony.
I, along with the other volunteers, had to bring the ponies in from the fields in the morning, groom, tack them up and help the riders to mount. It’s hard, physical work, and you do need to be fairly fit. I loved it. It was a chance to be around horses again. Alright, so 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 hadn’t occurred to me, though I knew that volunteers could rid on occasion.
December 2014 rolled round. The first lesson of the day had been canceled, and some of the other volunteers, and myself, we’re standing around talking when I got asked if I’d like to ride in the next lesson. To be honesty, I’d never even entertained the possibility of being asked. Still, took the bull by the horns and said yes.
Mounted one of the cobs (called B) and set off round the school, while the other riders were being mounted on their ponies.
As soon as I set off round the school, I revised my opinion on all cobs being slow and ploddy. B was very responsive to my leg aids. All I had to do was apply the lightest pressure, and he’d respond. It wasn’t a perfect first lesson. I did have a few problems getting B to stop, but that was due to me not having a very good contact on the reins. Also didn’t have the nerve to trot, since it was the first time in 11 years that I’d ridden.
As the weeks went on, I did a bit more riding. Started trotting, a little nervously on my part at first, but my confidence increased every time I did. Moved onto another cob, named Max, a few weeks after that first ride. Max is a nice one to ride, since he’s easy to steer, and does listen to me, once I’ve gotten him warmed up. Just have to make sure that he doesn’t just plod behind another pony, since he does tend to switch off if that happens.
Not sure how long it’s going to last, but I intend to enjoy every minute of being back in the saddle.
Plus, I’ve learnt never to judge any breeds by how they look in the future!