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By Jeffery Garfield

Last updated: 14th July 2020

Gypsy Horse


Jeffery Garfield
Last updated: 14th July 2020

The Gypsy Horse is a small-sized draft horse that was first bred by the Romanichals (Gypsies) of Great Britain. Its strong muscular figure with the structure of legs is well suited to pulling activities. Its ‘piebald’ coat color and the extensive feathering on the legs are two of its most distinguishable features. However, some of the horses may also have any other coat color. A common sub-type of this breed having a similar appearance is called the Drum Horse. While the Gypsy horses are displayed and sold by the breeders at conventional fairs in the UK, horse shows and sporting events in the US have become extremely popular in which these horses participate every year.

Gypsy Horse Pictures

Quick Information

Alternative Names Cob, Gypsy Cob, Colored Cob, Tinker Horse, Irish Cob, Gypsy Vanner
Common Nicknames Cob (UK), Tinker (Europe), Gypsy (USA)
Temperament Intelligent, sensible, gentle, willing
Physical Characteristics A straight facial profile with a refined head proportionate with the body; strong, muscular neck; broad, deep chest; well-rounded withers; well-sloped shoulders; strong hindquarters with well-rounded rump
Colors Any coat color, but pinto with patches of black and white, and piebald are common
Common Use Show horse in fairs and competitions, equestrian sports
Life Expectancy 20-25 years
Weight Average of 1400 lbs
Height (size) Average of 14.2 hands (147 cm, 58 inches)
Health Susceptible to diseases like Chronic Progressive Lymphedema and scratches caused by fungus and mites
Gaited Yes
Popular Traits Strength, endurance, hardiness
Feeding/Diet Hay, grass, alfalfa, fresh water supply
Blood Type Warm
Country of Origin Ireland and the United Kingdom
Ancestors Clydesdale, Shire, Dales Pony, and Fell Pony
Year/Time of Development The earliest Gypsy horses were created in the late 19th century, but the present form was developed after World War II

Video: Gypsy Horses with Different Coat Colors

History and Development

For centuries, the Romanichals have traveled throughout the Europe in beautifully decorated vardoes and caravans. To maintain their way of living, these nomadic people started breeding the first Gypsy horses back in 1850 with the intention of using them as a pulling horse for their living wagons. The present form of this horse took years of careful breeding and was created shortly after the end of the World War II.

This extraordinary horse breed was trained and managed in a unique way, so that it could have the strength and endurance to pull the heavy wagons, feed on any grass found on the roadside and remain calm, since confusion and panic could cause damage to the wagon. During World War II, the horses with the spotted coat pattern were quickly replaced by the colored ones, which are considered more popular even today.

Apart from plentiful feathers, precise colors, and greater bone density, the Romanichal breeders preferred smaller sized horses with high knee action. Therefore, the breeders used the Section D Welsh Cob breeding to help the Gypsy Horse have a more lively and energetic trot. Since during the 1990s the average height of the breed was more than 15 hands, the breeders wanted to reduce the size to 14.3-15 hands, as it is much more economical to raise a smaller horse. As a result, the Dales Pony and sometimes the Fell Pony were used for interbreeding with the Clydesdale and the Shire horses. The offspring thus created laid the foundation of the present Gypsy horse.

Starting in 1996, a set of associations and registries including Gypsy Vanner Horse Society, Gypsy Horse Registry of America, The Irish Cob Society Ltd, Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse Association, and some others were established. The Gypsy horse was first brought to the US in 1997 by the famous discoverers Dennis and Cindy Thompson. From 2000 to 2012 around 1700 horses, mostly the Gypsies, were imported to America by the famous North American horse importer/breeder Black Forest Shires & Gypsy Horses.

Interesting Facts

  • It is rumored that the two foundation stocks of this breed were called the ‘Sonny May’s Horse’ and ‘The Old Coal Horse’.
  • In the Gypsy community, this horse breed is a symbol of status.

4 responses to “Gypsy Horse”

  1. Bethany padgett says:

    Hello, I would like to use a photo of one of your Gypsy horses on my website http://www.equiderma.com. Is it possible to use one of them please?
    Thank you,

  2. Kathern Gamble says:

    I would like to visit and get some training on this beautiful breed call American gypsy vanner horse. Where would I find this

  3. Sherry says:

    Do you have a pic of the Checkity stallion? If so, could you email it to me? Thanks!

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