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The Beautiful Gypsy Cob

Ancient Romani tradition meets modern day USA


         The Gypsy dream was to produce the perfect horse to pull their colorful vardos or living wagons through the hillsides of England and Ireland.  The Gypsy Cob had to be strong and athletic so they could manage the heavy vardo with the Gypsy family and their belongings.  The horses had to be hardy and easy to keep, as they were often tethered to the side of the road or in fields, eating whatever grass they could find and living without shelter in the cold winters.  When the work was done they had to be gentile enough to keep the Gypsy children safe.  It is said that the horses had to be so gentile that babies should be able to crawl under and between their feet and culling was done accordingly.













    While most Gypsies no longer live in vardos, they still keep the quality of Gypsy Cob horses.  Now, as in traveling days, the Gypsy Cob is a symbol of status and a source of great pride among Romany Gypsies.

               In order to create the type of horse that was most useful to the Romany, several breeds of horses were used. Those breeds that were most influential in the Gypsy Cob were: The Shire, the Clydesdale with Friesian being used in the breeding of the other two. Large horses were costly to keep so to control their size, the Romany Gypsies used the Dales Pony which heavily influenced the horses type and the Fell pony to a lesser extent. Another influence came from the Section D Welch Cob which increased the trot and movement of the horse.






         Until now, the Gypsy Cob was not a registered breed.  While breeding these magical horses was careful and deliberate, the detailed history of the breed bloodlines was kept in the collective memory of  the families who bred them for many generations.  Due to the recent interest in the importation of Gypsy horses, registries have been established here and abroad to protect and continue the established bloodlines. 


              Many names are associated with the Gypsy type horse;  Colored Horse , Gypsy Cob, Tinker,  Irish Cob, Travelers Horse, Irish Horse and most recently in the US Gypsy Vanner are a few.










          Gypsy families often own many gypsy type horses but only a few possess the potential to reproduce the quality of horse that is sought for breeding purposes.  The Gypsy Cob must possess a certain look and meet a clear conformation standard, ensuring that we may reproduce the same quality horse that the ancient Romany Gypsy dreamed of. 

          The sheer beauty of the Gypsy Cob will captivate young and old alike.  The long hair on the legs and their effortless floating motion gives them a mystical fairytale appearance as they move across the meadow.


      Gypsies range in size from 13 to 15 hands.  They are sturdy with heavy bone, flat knees and short backs.  They come in a variety of colors: bay/white, red/white, dapple, blue and tri-colored.  The most common are black/white, brown/white and occasionally you will find a solid, however, all colors are prized!  Piebald and skewbald  horses are most abundant because the Romany breeders discovered that this coloring is related to the horses kind and sweet temperament. Gypsy Cobs have an abundance of mane and feather.  Feather (long hair on the legs) should begin at the knee and cover the hooves.  Manes and tails are long, thick and flowing.    


       The Gypsy Cob have so many wonderful qualities.  Their beauty is immediately noticed, but time spent with the Gypsy Cob and their warm, gregarious nature is a true blessing! So many people have commented about the way my Gypsies greet me at the gate and walk shoulder to shoulder with me across the pasture to the barn morning and evening.  Years of selective breeding has developed a personality that is likely the most docile and gentile in the world.  They are extremely social and eager to participate in your activities and will do so with beauty and style!


       Highly admired, the Gypsy Cob are still somewhat rare in the US.  Due to their increasing popularity we expect to see more in the near future.  Traditionally used for driving they also excel at dressage, hunter jumper and both english and western riding.


        Enchanting, beautiful, incredibly versatile with a temperament that is unequaled, they will quickly become your dream of the perfect horse!




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Up to 14.2hh - short, stocky, compact ponies used for pulling flat carts - usually known as trolley ponies.

Up to 15.2hh - big, powerful cobs used for pulling living wagons and heavier loads - often known as vanners.

Over 15hh cobs with more shire/clydesdale blood were used for heavy loads and agricultural work


The Traditional Cob Registry

52m  · 

For anyone wondering why the Traditional Cob was called the Irish Cob and the Gypsy Cob please read on. It is a bit of a long read but there is no short explanation.

The Irish Cob is the Traditional Cob that was first bred in Ireland from the Irish-born breed foundation stallions Sonny Mays, The Lion King, The Road Sweeper, The Coal Horse, The Sham, The Lob, Old Henry and The Checkity Horse. Because Ireland is therefore the true country of origin and the Traditional Cob breed, all Traditional Cobs outside Ireland are either Traditional Cobs from Ireland or the descendants of Traditional Cobs from Ireland. Because the Traditional Cob originated in Ireland the Traditional Cob was given the name Irish Cob in Ireland and, in 1998 the Irish Cob was officially recognised in Ireland as a native Irish breed. When the first (mother) Irish Cob studbook was officially founded in Ireland in 1998 the Irish Cob Breed Standard (the original breed standard for the Traditional Cob set down in Ireland) was also officially recognised in Ireland.

In 2005 an independent registry in England changed the name of the Traditional Cob (Irish Cob) in England to the Traditional Gypsy Cob (aka Gypsy Cob). And, even though the studbook of origin of the Traditional Cob breed (The Irish Cob Studbook) had already been officially founded in Ireland in 1998, because of the name change of the Traditional Cob (Irish Cob) in England to the Traditional Gypsy Cob (aka the Gypsy Cob), in 2012 the independent registry in England gave up its independence to officially found a second (not original) studbook of origin in England for the Traditional Cob breed (The Traditional Gypsy Cob studbook) with a second (not original) breed standard. The reason a second studbook of origin for the Traditional Cob (The Traditional Gypsy Cob Studbook) was officially founded in England is that it is claimed in England that the Traditional Cob was originally bred in England by Gypsies, which is why the Traditional Cob (Irish Cob) was renamed the Traditional Gypsy Cob (aka Gypsy Cob) in England. However, the reason the first (original) studbook of origin for the Traditional Cob (The Irish Cob Studbook) was officially founded in Ireland in 1998 is that the Traditional Cob breed originated in Ireland from Irish-born breed foundation stallions Sonny Mays, The Lion King, The Road Sweeper, The Coal Horse, The Sham, The Lob, Old Henry and The Checkity Horse.

Since the studbook of the origin for the Traditional Cob (The Irish Cob Studbook) was officially founded in Ireland in 1998 the breed has been changing due to English breeding influences. As a result, there are now two types of Traditional Gypsy Cob. One type is an Irish Traditional Cob (which is the Irish Cob) and the other type is an English Traditional Cob (which is the Irish Cob with obvious Welsh Cob characteristics). However, although the Traditional Gypsy Cob is also called the Gypsy Cob, the actual Gypsy Cob that evolved in England from the Irish Cob can be quite different to the more athletically built all-purpose (ride and drive) Irish Cob.

The Gypsy Cob can be smaller, shorter-legged, stockier and stouter-bodied than the Irish Cob. The Gypsy Cob not only can have a broader and more substantial chest and shoulders than the Irish Cob, but the Gypsy Cob can also have rounder, flatter and broader withers that can be set further back than the Irish Cob.

The Gypsy Cob can also not only have a shorter back than the Irish Cob, but the Gypsy Cob can also have a back that can have a steeper slope upward from the withers to the croup than the Irish Cob.

The Gypsy Cob croup can be shorter than the croup of the Irish Cob and can have a steeper slope to the tail than the Irish Cob.

The Gypsy Cob can also have a 'sweeter' and more 'ponyish' head (often described as a 'Bambi head') and smaller ears than the Irish Cob.

The Irish Cob Breed Standard (1998)

General Appearance

The Irish Cob is compact and powerful, ample both in muscle and bone, yet, with an ability to perform as a good all‐purposes animal. Some Irish Cobs tend to be more “stocky” than others. The Irish Cob is well-balanced and proportioned, standing straight and square and offering an imposing appearance.


The head, which should be held proudly, should be carried on a powerful and arched, well “set on,” neck. The neck should appear to “carry on” through good withers and to finish at the start of the back (this feature should be particularly evident in stallions). The back which should be short and straight should slope gently upwards to a well-muscled croup (the backbone/spine or the hip bones should not be apparent). The croup, which is quite high and generous, should have both croup muscles well-defined, the top of the quarters being exceptionally well muscled, broad and ample. The angle of the spine from the croup to the tail should slope gently downwards and should not be exaggerated, this allows for a high, well “set on”, tail and contributes to good well-rounded quarters.


Irish Cobs are from medium weight to heavy weight (Some allowance in bone measurement can be made for mares and geldings only).

In Motion

Irish Cobs with their unique action, luxuriant hair and feathering and the large range of colours available, combine to present a beautiful and varied sight to see when turned out at their best, particularly when in motion.


The Irish Cob should possess a docile and willing nature, with a friendly disposition towards humans and other animal species. Displays of aggressive and threatening behaviour such as ears back, kicking, biting, rearing and not being under control of the handler, will result in expulsion from Approval Inspection and the Show Ring.


Under 170cms


Straight, handsome and in proportion to the rest of the horse. The forehead should be broad and the muzzle, jaw and cheek should be generous.


A level bite.


Quite bold, open and set well apart.


Neat and well set on.


Compact, but not too short and should be generously muscled, including the crest (stallion’s necks should be particularly well muscled and crested).


Ample, powerful and sloping.


Of average protrusion or height and should be encased in plenty of muscle and flesh.


Powerful, well muscled and not too broad or narrow.


Short, straight, well covered in muscle and flesh and slope gently upwards towards the croup.

Hindquarters And Hind Legs

The hindquarters should be very generous, well-rounded, broad and powerful with a well-muscled high croup. The second thigh should also be very generous, quite long and well coupled to good straight powerful hocks. The hind legs should be well boned and muscled.


Short and compact with ribs well sprung to barrel shape.


Powerful and not too short. There should be a good length of well-muscled forearm and generously boned shins.

Knees And Hocks

Well-developed and of generous dimensions but should be in balance with the proportions of the horse.

Fetlock Joints

Match other joints in power, size and build.


Sufficient bone and not too long (straight or over angled pasterns are a fault).


Well shaped, neat and of a size capable of carrying the frame of the horse without stress.

Leg Hair/Feathering

Leg hair/feathering is a characteristic and decorative feature of the Irish Cob breed. This is especially prominent in the heavier Irish Cobs. However, the amount of leg hair/feathering present may vary considerably, particularly in the case of medium weight Irish Cobs. Leg hair/feathering should, at the very least, fall from the back of the knees and hocks, down to a thick covering of hair/feathers on the heels. Leg hair/feathering should also fall over the front of the hoof, from at least the coronet.

Mane And Tail

Luxuriant and capable of growing to a substantial length.


Appear sound and free from obvious hereditary defects.


The following colours are considered most typical:

  • All solid colours including black, bay, brown, chestnut, palomino, grey and roan.

  • All solid colours including black, bay, brown, chestnut, palomino, grey and roan, which contain white body markings.

White body markings are measured in percentages and exclude the head, legs and underbelly.

Irish Cobs, which have white body markings, are described as Coloured.

Irish Cobs, which have white markings on the underbelly, are described as Splashed or Black

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