The Welsh Cob Pony and the Paso Fino

I wrote this comparison/contrast essay for my English II class in 2010 basing it on Snip’s two breeds: The Welsh Cob Pony and the Paso Fino.

The Welsh Cob Pony and the Paso Fino

There are many breeds of horses, also known as equines, in the world. According to The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, equines belong to the family Equidae which includes horses, asses, and zebras (def. 2). Two particular breeds of equine that interest me are the Welsh Cob Pony and the Paso Fino, because my horse, Snip, is a cross between these two. My research shows that though the Welsh Cob Pony and the Paso Fino have similarities in origins and temperament, they differ greatly in gait, as well as in certain aspects of their physical appearance and original uses.

The precise origins of the Welsh Cob Pony are not known: however, much of the Cob’s character comes from the Welsh Mountain Pony which was crossed with Spanish horses to create a larger horse, along with a mix of the Norfolk Roadsters and Yorkshire Coach Horse (“Welsh Cob Pony and Welsh Mountain Pony,” 3). Katherine Blocksdorf describes a somewhat different origin for the Cob, which came from Britain, saying that it was likely developed from crossing native ponies with Thoroughbred, and Hackney bloodlines (4). In both these origins, it is said also that the Cob has a small amount of Arabian. The Paso Fino’s bloodlines are a mix of the Barb, the Spanish Jennet, and Andalusian breeds (“Paso Fino,” 3). All Pasos have their origins with the Peruvian Paso, American mustangs, and other descendants of the Colonial Spanish Horses (“Paso Fino,” 3).  So although the Paso’s heritage comes more strongly from horses of Spain, the Cob shares some of this Spanish blood.

The Welsh Cob Pony, as its name says, is a pony, which according to Random House Dictionary is a small horse of any of several breeds, usually not higher at the shoulder than 14 ½ hands (58 in./146 cm) (def. 1). The Cob’s height varies between 13.2 and 15 hands high. Even though the Paso Fino is classified as a “horse” rather than a “pony”, its height is similar to the Cob’s, from 13 to 16 hands (“The Paso Fino,” 1).

In appearance, most Welsh Cobs give the impression of a small Arabian. Their hair is fine with a high placed tail. They have a tiny head with sharp ears and large expressive eyes, and their forehead is dished (Blocksdorf, 1). Their legs are fine and clean boned and they have lengthy powerful hindquarters, strong laid-back shoulders, short backs, and straight hind and forelegs. The Cob has a deep chest with a stock body build, but at the same time, it still manages to look elegant. It also has dense hooves with a medium amount of feathery hair on the lower leg (“Welsh Cob Pony and Welsh Mountain Pony,” 17). The Paso Fino’s body build and appearance is fairly similar to the Cob’s, but it differs in that it can range from quite small and refined to very large and powerful (“Paso Fino,” 12). This Spanish warm-blooded horse has good all-around conformation. Its head is in good proportion to the body, but the forehead and nose are straight as compared to the dished head of the Cob. The Paso’s eyes are large and well-spaced, alert, expressive, and intelligent. Their ears are short, placed close together, and are curved inward at the tips. From the Paso’s Spanish heritage, comes an arched neck with a head held high, and a grace and elegance (“Paso Fino Horse Association,” 4, C) that the Cob also shares from that same Spanish influence. In overall appearance, the Cob shows refinement, strength, and a power without many muscles, while the Paso has a more obviously well-muscled body that gives it its strength, power, versatility, agility, and endurance.

The Welsh Cob and the Paso Fino can be almost any horse color, such as gray, bay, chestnut, black or brown, cream, dun, palomino or roan. The Cob’s markings can never be piebald, (patches of white and black) or skewbald (patches of white and any color except black) (“Welsh Pony and Cob,” 14). Similarly, the Paso also is never seen with a two-colored coat, such as the appaloosa pattern (a spotted coat) (“The Paso Fino,” 1).

The Welsh Cob’s gait is speedy, with a bold and free trotting action covering the ground with forceful impulsion from the hocks (“Welsh Pony and Cob,” 24). They can cover great distances at a powerful trot (Welsh Pony and Cob Society, 1). The Paso Fino, on the other hand, has a natural gait in which every hoof touches the ground one at a time in regular sequence at fixed intervals in a way that is extremely comfortable for the rider.  The motion is in-time, calculated, straight, balanced in flexion (Paso Fino Horse Association, 5) and simultaneous front to back. This gait is unique to Paso-type horses and is distinctly different from the mile-eating trot of the Cob.

The temperament of the Welsh Cob Pony and the Paso Fino are similar in many ways. These two breeds of horse share a gentleness of nature, yet a lively spirit. They also have a love for people and a desire to please. Because of this, they are willing to do anything that is asked of them. They are also intelligent and quite responsive (“Welsh Pony and Cob,” 5 & 10; “Paso Fino Horse Association,” 4, K).

The Welsh Cob Pony’s original uses were many and varied, seemingly an “all purpose” kind of horse. The Cob was used both “in-harness”, that is, for pulling kinds of work, as well as for riding. In-harness, the Cob was used for working in coal mines, pulling the military’s heavy equipment, commercial work, pulling chariots in sports arenas, and on farms. For riding, Cobs were used on postmen’s routes, in the military, and on ranches, as well as for everyday transportation (“Welsh Pony and Cob,” 4 & 21). Before the car came into the world, the Cob was the fastest way for people to get around because of their ground-covering trot. They were also used as hunters, jumpers, and racehorses (Blocksdorf, 3). According to “Welsh Pony and Cob”, the Cob was “fleet of foot, a good jumper, a good swimmer and able to carry a substantial weight on his back” (par. 22). The Paso Fino, on the other hand, seems to have been used in more limited situations than the Cob. The Paso, like the Cob, was used in agricultural work on plantations, but was used primarily as a riding        horse rather than to pull loads. This was because of their pluck and the comfortable motion caused by their unique way of walking, which made for pleasant riding. They can easily carry a large load comfortably over rough terrain for a long period of time. They were also used in transportation and in the military because they could easily carry a large load comfortably over rough terrain for a long period of time (“Paso Fino,” 3 & 14).

Though the Welsh Cob Pony and the Paso Fino are two different types of equine, one a pony and the other a horse, they share many similarities. Both breeds are graceful and elegant with a powerful presence, but each with a character unique to themselves. Through each of their histories in the agriculture industry, the military, and other areas, they have shown their character and their worth, not just as a tool to be used by man for jobs here and there, but as something special, something that is worth having around. Combine these two breeds of equine together, and you come up with one fine specimen: in personality and physical characteristics, and in their uses, just like my boy, Snip.

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