The Gentle Horses of the Gypsies
For hundreds of years, the nomadic people known as gypsies have travelled the roads of Europe and the U.K. in beautifully carved and decorated living wagons. To maintain this wandering way of life, they created an extraordinary breed of horse, with enough endurance and strength to pull a heavy wagon all day, the ability to subsist on whatever grazing it could find on the side of the road, and an extremely calm temperament, since a moment's panic could quite literally result in the destruction of its master's home. The result, after hundreds of years of selective breeding, is a beautiful, powerful and supremely gentle animal-the Gypsy Horse.
Gypsies still travel the roads of England, Ireland and Europe. For centuries, their way of life has been the stuff of legend and romance. Van Gogh painted them at sunset, around their campfires. Composers from Brahms to Ravel wove their traditional melodies into classical music. But the most magnificent part of their heritage lives, breathes and trots, proud necks arched and feather flying. The Gypsy Horses-beautiful, brilliant, kind and now enjoying tremendous growth and popularity all over the world.
Some people believe it is ALL in the name.....
These cobs go by many names They have been called: Travellers Horses as well as Gypsy cobs, Gypsy Coloured Cobs, Tinker Cobs, Irish Cobs, Irish Tinker, and the most fashionable of today, the Gypsy Vanner horse or now the newest the Drum Horse.
Some of these names are honouring the breed and some disrespectful, not to the horses or cobs but more to the people who developed them... the Travellers or Gypsy people. What is true is that whatever you call them they are remarkable and beautiful cobs or horses worthy of respect for themselves.
British Isles (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales) & Europe.
Many attribute the breed to being almost exclusively Dales crossed with large draft breeds of colour. Mrs Dunkley's research challenges this theory. It may be that there may be a little more Dales influence on the cob side, owing to the Travellers (of the British Isles) deep love of attending "Appleby Fair" which is held, annually, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, but this leaning toward the Dales would be minimal in her opinion. The Travellers have a good eye for an, 'oss whatever its breed and it is more likely that many cob, sized and structured, breeds would have gone into the recipe that produced the Gypsy Cob... she believes that any heavy draft pony from the regions the Travellers visited would have been included, some examples of these would have been the Yorkshire Dales Pony, The Cumbrian Fell Pony, the Scottish Highland the Welsh Cob, Connemara bred to the Clydesdale or Shire to add even more bone density and the coloured element to the breed.
The Gypsy Coloured Cob is what is known as a LAND RACE breed, basically, a mixed breed or mongrel developed for purpose, type and colour therefore any pony or horse that the Traveller believed would bring some improving quality to the offspring would not be left out of the mix.
Uses (Past and Present day):
The primary use for this breed always has been and always will be HARNESS WORK.... It was designed and maintained as a draught cob/horse for pulling the covered Gypsy Wagons or Caravans, as they are known.
Of course you can ride these cobs, but the really best of PURE and TRADITIONAL breeding and type will ride less gracefully than a horse bred exclusively for the task. There are those that promote this breed as being able to win dressage and show jumping competitions. Be fair to the breed and don't believe them. If they are breeding a lighter sort of cob then it is NOT a true Gypsy Coloured cob (alias all the other titles).