The Irish Cob or Coloured Cob, known as the Gypsy Horse or Gypsy Vanner in the United States, is a type or breed of domestic horse from the British Isles. It a small, solidly built horse of cob conformation and is often, but not always, piebald or skewbald. It is the only broken-coloured horse breed of the British Isles and is particularly associated with the Pavee and Roma travelling peoples of Britain and Ireland. There was no studbook or breed association for horses of this type until 1996. Other names for this breed include Gypsy Cob and Tinker Horse. The Drum Horse is similar in appearance but larger.
From about 1850 travelling people in the British Isles began to use a distinct type of horse to pull their vardos, the caravans in which they had just begun to live and travel. The colour and look of the breed were refined in the years after the Second World War. Horses of this type were first exported to the United States in 1996.
There are many breed societies for the Gypsy horse, with mostly, minor variations in their respective breed standards. The range of desired heights is generally from 13 to 16 hands (52 to 64 inches, 132 to 163 cm) in the United States and Australasia, but in Ireland and continental Europe, the desired height limit goes up to 16.2 hands (66 inches, 168 cm) for some types and they permit both lighter-boned as well as larger horses than typically desired by the American organisations.
Gypsy Wagon by Binkski
The Gypsy Horse was bred by the Roma of Great Britain to pull the vardos in which they lived and travelled. The Roma had arrived in the British Isles by 1500 AD, but they did not begin to live in vardoes until around 1850. Prior to that, they travelled in tilted carts or afoot and slept either under or in these carts or in small tents. The peak usage of the Gypsy caravan occurred in the latter part of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th.