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History of the Gypsy Horse

Gypsy Horse The gypsy cob dates back many years to when the gypsy’s or Romany folk roamed freely across English soil, mainly using the horses to pull their brightly coloured immaculate bow topped living wagons that were the gypsy’s home. The gypsy’s would travel the length and breathe of the country all year trying to earn a living. Kent was one of the many places they travelled to covering many miles for the start of the spring picking and harvest seasons, in the rich deep fertile valleys, Kent had a long harvest season covering all soft and hard fruits, then finishing with the hop picking for the brewing industry. Plenty of money was to be earned for these hard working families whole were pulled here every year by their horses. With their trade/selling horses tied to the back of the wagons. This was a good time to exchange horse talk and indeed horses and many a deal was done around the nightly campfires. Horses tethered to trees while children and dogs played amongst them, foals playing loose and older family members telling stories from generation to generation.


Horses were bred in both England and Ireland but England were the only ones to have the coloured horse until it was introduced into Ireland they mainly had bays and blacks.

Correct term

The English gypsy’s are referred to either as gypsy’s or Romany folk. Irish were tended to be called travellers or Tinkers and indeed the Romany find it an insult to call them Tinkers. The mysteries that surround these families are because of the stigma attached and their life style, the way they move around all the time, they have earned a reputation for being untrustworthy, which with a Romany or true Gypsy family could not be further from the truth. So on the whole people do not approach or even be courteous to them. They are the originator of the breed, it is a breed that was produced for a purpose and a way of life, hence the outstanding temperament, type and conformation for pulling.


In the UK there is no confusion over the breed, it is the way the breed has been interpretive on arrival in the USA and other countries ,that has caused the confusion. There are a lot of new names that are incorrect; in England the gypsy’s call them Cobs, grai’s or ‘orses’ Irish cobs tend to be longer in the back with larger heads and not as much feather, recently some countries have put the well bred with known gypsy breeding horse into the Irish Cob Society breed books, this is of no disrespect to the breed or society, but it has caused confusion, yes a gypsy cob can be registered within the Irish cob Society but that is not to say that all Irish cobs are gypsy horses, some are just coloured cobs which are different, some have no known breeding or only the stallion known, this once again is not true gypsy horse breeding. Every gypsy family can take you out into his herd and tell you which mare came from which stallion and mare and where their sires were bred and the fathers before and so on, that is the difference. All gypsy horses bred by true gypsy families will have a long line of known parentage.


The main points that make these horses so special, are the temperament, tolerance, conformation ability to do the job they were intended to, finally versatility which from pulling a wagon all day to all the children jumping on and of them, dogs and children alike playing around them, knowing that the horse would rather hurt itself than any part of the family.

Above all the horses are a sign of the gypsy families wealth and social standing within the gypsy fraternity the biggest best quality top breeding herd is an open statement that they are a high ranking family. All the blood lines can be traced back through out the family for many generations, to date one family can give me the breeding through the past 150 years on all the family stock


All the above reasons that have been mentioned and now show horses after finally been socially accepted for what the breed is.


To encourage all new admirers of the bred to understand this is a long established breed in its own right by, bred and owned by true gypsy families, in their quest for owning a new breed find out all true breeding of the horses check this is correct for themselves then only breed pure, to carry on from all the hard work these families have put in to produce the horse as it has been for many generations.


The many gypsy horse societies publish there own Breed Standards, but how you read this breed standard is each individual’s own interpretation. A kind eye and good head can be described but who’s to say whose interpretation is correct. For that reason we can only give an explanation of the reasons for what the breed standard says. Firstly, the temperament of a gypsy Cob is it trade mark. They have been bred around children and dogs for generations and the quiet nature of the breed has become well established. A Gypsy horse, which does not show a placid temperament, should not have any place in a breeding establishment.

The head and eye should have a kind, quality look, with the head being more of a pony type and size; eyes can be dark or shade of blue. It is a untrue that blue eyes (wall eyes) are a sign of bad temper. That is far from the truth in the gypsy horse. The A long mane is another breed speciality. The neck should be strong and well muscled, and the shoulders should be well angulated. The shoulders and correct angulation are very important for this breed it is the whole wagon pulling power that was bred into these horse for a long day between shafts, with a good length of stride. to maintain a steady trot for miles. Upright shoulders are highly undesirable. A good strong chest with plenty of room between the front legs, this gives heart and lung room for the job intended. A short strong back for weight carrying and allowing the legs to come underneath to propel the horse forward and take the weight of the wagon. Mares can sometimes be longer in the back, to carry a foal. The rear end is equally as important as the front end. A Gypsy Cob should have a good bend of stifle and well angulated behind. This offers the pulling and breaking power. A gypsy horse will sit down on its haunches to slow a heavy Bow Top Wagon, coming down hill and so the way its rear end is made is just as important. The overall picture is a strong short backed horse of immense power with a kind eye and attitude, square in statue and pleasing to the eye in horse terms.


All the above but overriding all the temperament and kind disposition of this wonderful breed

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