Gypsy Cob & Drum Horse Association

Drum Horse Information

North American Champion: Imperial Sampson


North American Champion:
DF Balmoral

North American Champion:
American Sterling

Regional Champion: Shrek
Drum Horse Inspiration:

Inspired by some of the recent working Drum Horses of the British Cavalry, the Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse Association believes the development of the Drum Horse, as a breed, to be a worthy aspiration, in and of itself. A breed inspired by great war horses with a beauty, stature and dignity not found in any other existing breed. And, with such a symbiotic relationship existing between the Gypsy Cob and the Drum Horse, the Drum Horse will become not only a wonderful breed, unto itself, but also a wonderful counterpoint to the smaller Gypsy Cob. It was this inspiration, symbiosis and commitment, that lead to the unique concept of  the dual stud books under the umbrella of a single registry.
The Drum Horse, as a job: The term Drum Horse is used in Britain to describe the horses that carry a rider and 2 silver kettledrums during certain Ceremonies of State, processions or exhibitions. Throughout history, the preferred type of horse to perform this job has varied with the era and the regiment it performed with. The one common factor was that they had to be a large, strong horse with an even temperament. The size and strength were required because the combined weight of the drums and rider could easily exceed 300 pounds and an easy disposition because of the parade atmosphere they were often required to perform in. And to make things just a little more difficult, the rider’s hands had to be free to beat the drums, so the reins are attached to the rider’s stirrups.

Drum Horses have a long and colorful history in the British Military. Some of the earliest regiments documenting Drum Horses are the Royal Scots Greys (1678), the 6th Dragoon Guards and the 3rd Hussars (both 1685), the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers (1689) and the 10th Royal Hussars and 9th Queen’s Lancers (both 1715). These horses, and their successors, saw service wherever the regiments were sent, including India, Flanders, the Crimea and Palestine.

In recent times, many of the Drum Horses have been high colored Clydesdales or horses produced from the crossing of Shires with the older, larger bloodlines of Gypsy Cobs or with Dutch Warmbloods. This is the reason that you now see the feathered Drum Horses and these horses are the inspiration for the development of a new breed.  While some will tell you the working Drum Horses have always been of full draft blood, that simply isn't true. For centuries, the working Drum Horses were lighter horses of Waler descent. Walers might be considered the precursor to warmbloods as they were, originally, a type derived by crossing a variety of hot blooded horses with draft horses. And even after the Drum Horses, of modern time, became heavier, some of the more notable horses still exhibit the characteristics that come from a touch of "Waler" blood.

The Drum Horse as a breed: The Drum Horse has captured the imagination with his stunning good looks and stately air.   Though it has some similarities to the Gypsy Cob, the Drum Horse stands at least 16hh and may utilize the bloodlines of the Gypsy Cob, Clydesdale, Shire and Friesian. It is a heavy horse, of any color or pattern, with lovely feather and exceptional disposition. Developed as a heavy riding horse, the Drum Horse is suited for low level dressage, eventing, hunting, saddle seat, trail, pleasure and, of course, makes an excellent driving horse.

Drum Horse Breed Standard

Purpose of the Breed: The purpose of the Drum Horse is to develop the quintessential heavy riding horse utilizing the bloodlines of the Gypsy Cob with the Shire, Clydesdale and/or Friesian. The ideal Drum Horse would display the calm disposition, heavy bone and profuse feathering of, and inspired by, some recent working Drum Horses in use by HRM the Queen of England's cavalry, along with the agility, movement and athleticism to excel in a variety of ridden and driven disciplines.


For entry into the A Stud Book, horses must be a minimum of 16hh and the smaller of the 2 parents must be at least 15hh. Horses under 16hh or with one parent less than 15hh will be registered in the B Stud Book. (The only exception being geldings who reach 16hh but have 1 parent less than 15hh. Those geldings are eligible for entry into the A Stud Book.)

General Appearance
The overall appearance of a Drum Horse should give the impression of intelligence, kindness, strength and agility. The Drum Horse is considered a heavy riding horse and should display the athleticism to allow for a pleasant day of hunting, hacking or other ridden discipline. The ideal Drum Horse should also be capable of excelling in harness work. They should be a large well-muscled horse of either medium weight or heavy weight, with good quality bone, a sturdy body, kind expression and abundant hair. A using horse, the Drum Horse should be handsome in a utilitarian way, obviously bred to work or perform rather than simply a horse pretty to look upon.

The Drum Horse should be, above all else, a kind and willing partner. It should display an intelligent character and docile temperament with a calm and sensible attitude.

Mane and tail should be long and thick. Abundant feather should start at the knees and hocks, preferably with some hair running down the front of the leg as well as the back. Feather should be soft and silky but may be straight or curling, and should cover the hoof. Docking of tails is not permissible. Trimming of any mane, tail, or feather is frowned upon, unless required in a discipline in which the horse in question competes or otherwise speaks to the safety of horse and handler. A small bridle path is allowed, as is the bobbing of the tail up to the top of the fetlock and trimming of facial and belly hair if so desired.

Drum Horses may be any color or pattern, solid, pinto or Appaloosa spot.

When in motion, the ideal Drum Horse should move with action, power, grace, and agility. Head carriage and collection should appear natural, not overly exaggerated or forced. Movement should be free, straight and square with ample impulsion. Knee and hock action should be somewhat animated but a long, free moving shoulder should provide the ability to reach forward creating an upward and forward motion with each stride. The Drum Horse should move up under itself with a smooth, powerful stride, should be light on the forehand and exhibit 3 good gaits. The Drum Horse's carriage should be up-headed and round with movement that is animated, forward and suitable for a variety of ridden and driven disciplines.

There are 2 types of acceptable movement, Sport Type and Traditional Movement.  The sport type of movement would be somewhat lower and longer but without completely losing the animation of the Draft foundation.  The traditional movement would be of a higher knee and hock action, though still with a powerful forward drive.  This might be better suited to some driving classes, country hack, etc.  Both are acceptable and judged more on brilliance of individual movement rather than a preference of one over the other.

The head should be in proportion to the body, neither too large nor too small, with broad forehead, generous jaw, square muzzle and even bite. The ears should be cleanly shaped and well set on. The eyes should be large and set well apart with an intelligent, kind expression. Eyes can be any color, and blue eyes shall not be penalized. Both convex and straight profiles are acceptable and an obvious draft horse influence should not be penalized. Stallions and geldings should have a masculine appearance to the head, and mares a feminine appearance.

The neck should be substantial and well-muscled and upright with a defined arch. It should be clean through the throat, of medium length, not too short, and tie in well at the shoulder and withers. Stallions may exhibit a masculine crest in proper relationship to the size and thickness of neck. 

The chest should be broad and deep with ample muscle. The muscle along the bottom of the chest should appear to form an inverted "V" shape as it ties strongly into the forearm.

The shoulders should be deep, powerful and of a correct slope to allow for ample, free movement.

Withers should be average in height, not too high, with a generous layer of muscle.

Back and Barrel
The back should be short to medium length and supple, well muscled and tie in strongly at the loin. Weak backs and loins are to be avoided. The barrel should be deep with well sprung ribs with the strength and room for adequate heart and lung function even during the hardest of work. The flank should also be deep and create a proportionate continuity between the front end of the horse and the rear. The loin should be strong and tie into the croup with a smooth, well-muscled appearance.  The entire barrel should be strong and capable of supporting and lifting the back to allow for proper movement and carriage.

Smooth and slightly rounded across a long croup, with a medium to high tail set, long hip with wide pelvis and well-muscled thighs and buttocks. As the driving force to all movement, the hindquarters should be powerful and adequate to lend the agility required in a performance horse.

Feet & Legs
The foundation of every horse, the legs should be set squarely under the body, straight, with clean joints and substantial, dense, flat bone. Forearms and thighs should be well muscled. Knees should be broad and flat, tying in smoothly to the lower leg. Hind legs should display clean and well defined hocks which are broad, deep, flat and wide when viewed from the side. The Drum Horse may or may not exhibit the influence of the draft horse hockset and shall not be penalized, either way. Pasterns should be long enough to allow a proper slope, starting from the ground, up through the hoof head, the pastern and meeting the fetlock joint. Feet must be sound and substantial with a generous, open heel.  No foot, no horse, is an absolute and poor quality feet should be severely penalized.


Drum Horse Stud Books: There are 2 Drum Horse Stud Books, an A Book and a B Book.  The A Book contains horses who meet all of the following: breeding requirements, parental height requirements, individual height requirements and correct type and characteristics.  The B Book contains horses who would meet the breeding requirement but not meet either the height requirement of their parents, their individual height requirement or who might be lacking, slightly, in correct type or characteristics (such as too light in feather or bone). 

In addition to the Main Stud Books, there is also a part-bred, auxiliary stud book and the identification database for those horses who are not Drum Horses but who are being used to produce Drum Horses (Shires, Clydesdales and Friesians being bred for Drum Horses).

Drum Horse - A Book*- Pedigree must contain a combination of Gypsy Cob, Shire, Clydesdale and/or Friesian breeding, with a minimum 1/8 Gypsy Cob breeding.  The horse must be a minimum of 16hh and meet all of the physical requirements of the breed as put forth in the Breed Standard. The smaller of the 2 parents must not be less than 15hh. Effective Jan. 1, 2005, no full blooded horses, of any of the foundation breeds, may be registered as Drum Horses.

Note: For entry into the A Stud Book, horses must be certified to stand a minimum of 16hh on, or before, June 1 of the year they turn 5 years old. Horses under the age of 5 years, who apply for registration without a height certificate, will only be issued a temporary certificate. Temporary certificates will expire on June 1st of the year the horse turns 5 years old. Any horse that will be bred before their 5th birthday should submit a Height Certification and new photos, before breeding, for purposes of registering the foal in the proper category. To receive the permanent registration certificate, a height certificate and new photos must be submitted by June 1 of the year the horse turns 5 years old.  Any horse lacking a height certificate and new photos, by June 1 of the year they turn 5 years old, will automatically be place in the B Stud Book.

Drum Horse - B Book -  Horses who otherwise meet the criteria for the A Stud Book registration but who do not reach a minimum mature height of 16hh, have one parent less than 15hh, are slightly lighter in feather or bone or have 2 registered Drum Horse parents but still fall below the minimum 1/8 Gypsy Cob breeding requirement, will be registered in the B Stud Book.

Note: Most Drum Horse foals will receive a temporary registration certificate until such time they can provide a height certificate and photos indicating breed characteristics.  Foals with one parent under 15hh or who fall below the minimum 1/8 Gypsy breeding, will be given their permanent registration papers, in the B Stud Book.  B Book Geldings, who have one parent under 15hh, may be re-issued permanent registration in the A Stud Book, if they reach a mature height of 16hh, or more.

Identification Certificate – This is required for horses of Shire, Clydesdale and Friesian breeding, (or grade horses who are approved based on type) who are being used in a Drum Horse breeding program.  These horses must apply for acceptance to produce Drum Horse foals and, once accepted, will be issued an Identification Certificate.   Note: Effective Jan. 1, 2013, foals who have 1 parent who should have an Identification Certificate, but do not, will be placed in the B Stud Book.

Part-Bred - Horses with one parent registered as a Drum Horse and the other parent from any non-feathered breed or who, otherwise, maintain 50% Drum Horse breeding.


Any horse seeking Drum Horse registration with the GCDHA must either be:

*The offspring of two registered Drum Horses, maintaining a minimum of 1/8 Gypsy Cob breeding.  (The offspring of 2 registered Drum Horses, who falls below the minimum 1/8 Gypsy Cob breeding, will be issued registration in the B Stud Book.)

*The offspring of one registered Drum Horse and one horse with an Identification Certificate, maintaining a minimum of 1/8 Gypsy Cob breeding.

*The offspring of one registered Gypsy Cob and any one of the following; Drum Horse, horses of Shire, Clydesdale or Friesian breeding. Note: Horses of Shire, Clydesdale or Friesian breeding must apply for an Identification Certificate or foals will be placed in the B Stud Book.

Note: Horses registered as Drum Horses may not be full Gypsy Cobs and may not be dual registered as a Gypsy Cob, in either a purebred or part-bred stud book. Such dual registration may be cause to void any Drum Horse registration.  (Note: Horses registered through a European registry prior to the establishment of an available Drum Horse stud book, may still be eligible for Drum Horse registration.)

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