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 breed
The Traditional Gypsy Cob has an unwritten history - no official records were kept and there was no defined path. There are many variations in its background and many elements brought in to make it the breed we know today. The Gypsy Cob is known by many names – Traditional Gypsy Cob, Romany Cob, Gypsy Cob, Gypsy Vanner, Tinker, Irish Tinker, amongst many others across the world. All these terms describe the same horse.
The Romany Gypsies used horses to travel across Europe for centuries and some settled in England and Ireland. British native breeds, such and the British Spotted Pony, Fells and Dales, plus shires and Clydesdales all provided a base from which the Romany Gypsies developed a sturdy, sound horse with colour, feather, and a steady hard working temperament.
The Gypsy Cob was used in nearly every aspect of the Gypsies' life, from pulling the colourful wagons that were the Gypsy’s homes to pulling the smaller wagons 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.
Gypsy Cobs have gradually found their way into the hearts of many a horse lover who recognizes their practicality and adaptability, coupled with the intelligence to make them suitable for many modern-day equine disciplines. The Traditional Gypsy Cob and their crosses can be found competing in all equine disciplines – jumping, dressage, harness and in the show ring. Many are used as safe and sane mounts for the novice and many riding schools and trekking centres use these kind and willing partners.
The first Gypsy Cobs arrived in New Zealand around 2005 and numbers gradually increased from there. The New Zealand Gypsy Cob Association (NZGCA) was established on the 11th of August 2011 and this allowed for the registration of horses so that accurate records of pedigree and breeding could be maintained. The Association early on required DNA verification of parentage to ensure the integrity of the studbook. NZGCA is affiliated with the Royal Agricultural Association as the breed society for Gypsy Cobs and this has allowed the Association to run Gypsy Cob sections at many A and P shows across NZ and to hold a section at the Horse of the Year show.
The future for both pure and partbred Gypsy Cobs in NZ is a bright one. They are increasingly being recognised by the wider equine community as versatile, talented all-rounders. As Gypsies come in many sizes ( purebreds most commonly between 13 and 15hhs, and partbreds of any size), there is a Gypsy Cob to suit most riders. Of late there has been an interest in the specific breeding of smaller purebred Gypsy Cobs, with a Mini Gypsy Cob being defined internationally as a purebred Gypsy Cob 13 hands or under. This size caters well to the child and harness pony market.
The NZGCA continues to see significant increases in the number of registered GCs and the popularity of the breed. We can look very positively to the growth of the Gypsy Cob breed in NZ over the coming years.