One of the most honest, hard working and gentle breeds of horse in the world today.  Bred for generations solely in the

UK and Ireland by Romany Gypsy/Traveller folk for their temperament, stamina, strength and versatility.   

 

 History of the Gypsy Cob

 

The Traditional Gypsy Cob has a history that is uncertain - no official records were kept and there is no definitive path that its inception took. There are many variations in its background and many elements brought in to make it the current type we know today.  Having researched and learnt from the older generations, we have some guide as to the history of the Traditional Gypsy Cob. Known by many names such as Romany Cob, Gypsy Cob, Vanner, Tinker, Irish Tinker, amongst many others across the world, all these terms relate to the same horse, its just the quality that may vary. 
During the First World War many horses in the United Kingdom were bought by the Army and taken overseas to work in service.  All sizes and shapes of horses were needed and utilized - to pull canons, carry regiments into battle and carry injured from the fronts. The only type of horse the Army did not want to buy and use was the coloured horse - obviously these coloured horses would not be very good in camouflage!  The Romany Gypsy, ever resourceful, had available an abundance of cheap, colourful, easily recognizable horses which they utilized and still do in many ways.  

The Romany Gypsies had been using horses to travel across Europe for centuries and some settled to travelling in England and Ireland. In England there are native breeds, which used to roam freely across certain parts of the country, such and the Fells and Dales of North England.  Romany Gypsies favoured the flashiness and availability of the coloured horse, the feather, hair and steady, hardworking nature of the heavy breeds, and needed the sturdy, compact, sure footed bodies of the Fell and Dales ponies. They continued breeding their horses using this mix of breeds, adapting their preferred size and type to suit their particular needs and likes. This continued and flourished as the Gypsies strived to have the best horse they could, that did the best job it could to fit in with their way of life. The other good thing about the ever popular coloured traditional gypsy cob was that fact that is was easily recognizable with their unique markings.  Over time, the travelling way of life has been replaced with motor homes and more permanent brick houses, but the loyal gypsy, ever proud of their horses still to this day have always kept to their horses and have continued their traditions and breeding.
One thing the Gypsies would and will not tolerate was a bad tempered horse.   All animals in a Gypsy family have to be totally safe with all the family. This selective breeding gives us the very placid, even tempered cob that we know and eventually diversified the Gypsy Cob into four categories: 

The Romany people were, and still are dedicated, knowledgeable and skilful in breeding their own preferred type of horse, despite often severe discrimination against their way of life.  Now the Romany has within its own tight knit community one of the most popular and sought after horses in the world, and they are rightly, quietly pleased with themselves.   

They have gradually found their way into the hearts of many a horse lover who recognize their practicality and adaptability, coupled with the intelligence suitability for many modern day equine disciplines.   Many a traditional cob can be found competing at dressage, pulling a wagon, doing a sponsored ride or at the highest level shows (and pulling in the biggest crowds!).  

The Gypsy Cob is used in nearly every aspect of the Gypsies life, from pulling the colourful wagons that were the Gypsy’s homes, to pulling the smaller wagon’s used for work. Travelling the roads and often cared for by children, it was essential that the horses be both strong and kind with a willing disposition. They also had to be of a hardy nature, sound and easily kept, as there were no special provisions made for food or shelter. They lived on the vacant land and grass strips found next to the road.  Many are used as safe and sane mounts for the novice and most riding schools and trekking centres use these kind and willing partners

 

The New Zealand Gypsy Cob Association has been established and a stud book set up to record all pure and partbred gypsy cobs in New Zealand with DNA profiling done to verify parentage.  The Association has also become affiliated with the RAS and we are delighted to now have separate gypsy cob classes at A&P Shows and Breeders Shows in New Zealand for the first time this season.

Breed Standards for the Purebred Gypsy cob

HEIGHT:

13hh-15.2hh
Heights outside this range, above or below, are acceptable.

COLOUR & MARKINGS:

All colours, markings and patterns are acceptable.

HEAD:

The Gypsy Cob should have a noble, expressive sweet head by Gypsy definition, without coarseness and in proportion to overall size of pony. Forehead is broad. The ideal head presents a fairly straight profile. Roman nosed is allowed but not desirable. Dished is frowned upon. Bite should be even but allowances to be made in youngstock.

EYES:

Prominent, bright, mild and intelligent. All eye colour acceptable.

NOSTRILS:

Large and expanding with a good width between each nostril.

EARS:

Neatly set, well formed short to medium in size and shapely.

THROAT & JAW:

Throat latch slightly deeper than lighter breeds. Should be refined enough to allow proper flexion of the poll.

NECK:

Of proportionate length, giving good length of rein, strong and not too heavy. Should be in proportion to overall size of pony. Stallions should display a well arched crest.

SHOULDERS:

The shoulders should be deep, well laid back and sloping, powerful with good length, muscles well developed. Not too fine at the withers, nor loaded at the points.

CARCASS:

Good strong back with a strong topline, muscular loins, deep carcass, thick through heart, broad across the chest, round well sprung ribs from shoulders to flank, short and well coupled, hind quarters square and strong with tail well set on. Ribs should not be visible. Barrel should tie in strongly to the loin, appearing compact and powerful.

FEET, LEGS AND JOINTS:

Feet of good size, should be hard and strong, round and well formed, open at the heels. Pastern angle should be well matched with shoulder angle and not too long. Forelegs should be straight, well placed not tied at elbows, flat well formed knees. Short cannon bone carrying flinty flat bone below the knee (eight inches at least – 20.3cms), great muscularity of arm.

HIND LEGS:

Good thighs and second thighs, very muscular, hocks well let down, large and well developed and clean cut, plenty of bone below joint, hocks should not be sickle nor cow-hocked.

HINDQUARTERS:

Hindquarters are muscular, powerful, and well-rounded giving the appearance of an ‘apple shape’. Good length from the point of the hip through the haunch; should balance the shoulders.

MANE, TAIL, FEATHER:

Mane, forelock, and tail should be ample to profusely abundant. Double manes are common, but not required. Feather on the legs should be from the knees and hock joints down and covering the entire hoof. Hair and feather may vary from straight and silky to coarser and sometimes wavy. Tail well set on, carried naturally while at rest and in action.

ACTION:

Walk, smart and true, active and powerful showing great pace and endurance. Trot well balanced all round. Showing great strength and impulsion from the hocks and hindquarters, not going too wide nor near behind. Some have higher knee action than others.

GENERAL CHARACTER:

The Gypsy should be constitutionally as hard as iron showing great bone and have a calm but alert demeanour appearance but above all else should be strong and kind. They are mannerly and manageable, eager to please, confident, courageous, alert, and loyal with a genuine sociable outlook. The Gypsy is renowned for its gentle, tractable nature and sensible disposition, it is a very intelligent partner that works willingly and harmoniously with its handler.

Breed Standards for Partbred Gypsy Cob

HEIGHT:

Any Height is acceptable.

COLOUR & MARKINGS:

All colours, markings and patterns are acceptable.

HEAD:

Neat, and is in proportion to overall size of horse or pony. The ideal head presents a fairly straight profile. Bite should be even but allowances to be made in youngstock.

EYES:

Prominent, bright, mild and intelligent. All eye colour acceptable.

NOSTRILS:

Large and expanding with a good width between each nostril.

EARS:

Neatly set and well formed.

THROAT & JAW:

Throat latch should be refined enough to allow proper flexion of the poll.

NECK:

Of proportionate length, giving good length of rein, strong and not too heavy. Should be in proportion to overall size of horse or pony.

SHOULDERS:

The shoulders well laid back and sloping, with good length, muscles well developed.

CARCASS:

Ribs should not be visible. Barrel should tie in strongly to the loin, appearing compact and powerful.

FEET, LEGS AND JOINTS:

Pastern angle should be well matched with shoulder angle and not too long. Forelegs should be straight, well placed not tied at elbows with flat well formed knees.

HIND LEGS:

Good thighs muscular, hocks well let down, well developed and clean cut, good bone below joint, hocks should not be sickle nor cow-hocked.

HINDQUARTERS:

Hindquarters should be well-rounded giving the appearance of an ‘apple shape’. Good length from the point of the hip through the haunch; should balance the shoulders.

MANE, TAIL, FEATHER:

Mane, forelock, and tail should be ample when showing in breed classes. Double manes are common, but not required. Some feathering on the legs should be visible unless clipped. Tail well set on, carried naturally while at rest and in action. In showing classes it is permissible for part breds to be hogged, clipped and/or plaited.

ACTION:

Walk, true and straight showing good pace and endurance. Trot well balanced all round. Showing good strength and impulsion from the hocks and hindquarters, not going too wide nor near behind. Some have higher knee action than others.

GENERAL CHARACTER:

The part bred Gypsy should be alert appearance with good bone. The part bred Gypsy, above all else should be kind, mannerly and manageable, eager to please, confident, courageous, alert, and loyal with a genuine sociable outlook. Should show some characteristics of the Gypsy Cob.

 

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Copyright 2014. New Zealand Gypsy Cob Association. All Rights Reserved.