Gypsy-Cob-1If you love a lot of flash and plenty of colour then the showy Gypsy Cob may be the horse for you! Here are 10 cool things you may not know about the breed.

  1. What’s in a name? The Gypsy Cob is also known as the Gypsy Horse, Gypsy Vanner, Irish Cob and Tinker Horse because he was bred by the Romany or Gypsy people to pull their wagons.
  2. Strong and compact The Gypsy Cob is a small draught breed, recognised for his lovely leg feathers and abundant mane and tail. He often has flamboyant piebald or skewbald colouring, however many colours are acceptable.
  3. Pulling power! Breeders strive for a powerfully muscled horse with correct legs and flashy movement. The neck is strong and muscular, with a short-coupled back. Good bone and correct angulation of hind legs is important for a pulling horse.
  4. Big and small Some registries class the breed into different size categories, as well as differentiating between heavier and lighter types. A ‘Cob’ is heavier while the ‘Grai’ type is a lighter, more refined riding horse. The average height is about 15hh.
  5. Gypsy-Cob-2Feather feature Feathering – the long hair starting below the knee down to the hooves – is highly valued. Straight, silky hair is ideal, while kinky hair is considered a fault.
  6. Sweetie pie The Gypsy head is neither dished nor roman, with a ‘sweet’ straight profile being the norm. Gypsy Horses have more refined heads than most draughts, and they should be in proportion to their tidy bodies.
  7. Move along The Gypsy Horse has distinct gaits and judges look for flowing, effortless movement.
  8. Best friends As a working horse, the Gypsy should be a strong, intelligent and kind partner with a willingness to respond to his handler. He should be good-mannered, manageable and eager to please.
  9. Drum beat Gypsy Cobs are popular as drum horses – the horses who carry a rider and 2 silver kettledrums during ceremonies. Drum horses need to be strong and even-tempered, so Gypsies fit the bill.
  10. Growing popularity Although they are a new breed, their popularity has grown tremendously. From their roots in the UK, they have spread throughout the world and even to South Africa.

Text: Brigitte Billings, Photography: Julia RemezovaThis article first appeared in the August 2014 issue of HQPony magazine. For more fun info on horses, ponies and riding, subscribe by visiting