Gypsy Cob & Drum Horse Association

Gypsy Cob Information

The Gypsy Cob was developed by the Romany people, better known as Gypsies, of Great Britain and Ireland and, as one Gypsy said, is the horse born from “the dream inside my head”. The Gypsy people have had horses for as long as their culture has been in existence but the horse we recognize today, as the Gypsy’s Cob, has only emerged within the past century. The horses were used in nearly every aspect of the Gypsy’s life, from pulling the colorful wagons that were the Gypsy’s homes, to pulling the smaller drays and carts used for work. The Gypsy’s Cob has always been their means of travel, their means of employment and their greatest source of pride.

Traveling the roads and often cared for by children, it was essential that the horses be strong, kind and have a willing disposition. They also had to be of a hardy nature, sound and easily kept, as there were no special provisions made for food or shelter. They lived on the vacant land and grass strips found next to the road. The Romany take great pride in the horses they breed and use themselves. And while the traveling people have now settled into more modern housing, you can still find the horse-drawn vardo on the roads during fair season. 

With less need for the larger, draft type of horse, the Romany now prefer a smaller cob or pony type with an active and speedy trot and while these horses are not used for working, the Gypsies love to “flash” them in front of onlookers. The larger cobs are still kept for use as wagon horses and are often used by non-Gypsy families as the great all around horse. Many are used as safe and sane mounts for the novice and most riding schools and trekking centers use these kind and willing partners.

Easily recognized, these sturdy little horses come in nearly all colors and markings. They also have amazing amounts of hair. Thick manes that typically fall below the shoulder and tails that drag the ground are only the beginning. The crowning glory on a good Gypsy Cob is the abundance of silky feather. Though there is a broad spectrum in size, the average Gypsy Cob stands between 13 and 15 hands.  Regardless of the size, all Gypsy Cobs should give the impression of a powerful, well-muscled horse, full of roundness and depth of body.  In fact, the Gypsy Cob should look just like the word, COB, short coupled, deep bodied and full of roundness.  When looking at the horse, you should not see long, straight lines or sharp angles.

For years, the Gypsy Cob has suffered from a certain lack of appreciation from within the mainstream equestrian society. Recently, however, the Gypsy Cob has developed an enthusiastic following throughout Europe and North America and have even made their way to Australia, South America and Eastern Asia. The beauty of these horses is surpassed only by their gentle and intelligent nature making them now highly sought after outside the Romany culture. Originally bred to pull the living wagons and drays, they excel at driving but are now being used for nearly all riding disciplines, too.

Coming from a culture that, traditionally, has not kept written records, the best bloodlines were all kept and recorded only in memory. Horses with names like The Lob Eared Horse, The Kent Horse and The Roadsweeper may sound foreign, to us, but the Romany and Travelers preferred descriptive names, often calling horses after the place they were bred or purchased, a physical characteristic or the owner's name. Generations of breeding have been handed down father to son without the aid of accepted means of documentation. With the now widespread popularity of the breed, crossing not only international borders but also cultural boundaries, it became imperative that proper parentage verification be administered and documented. DNA testing has been established to form a modern data bank and many people have worked countless hours to ensure the colorful history and a bright future is preserved for this wonderful breed.

The Gypsy Cob body type was deliberately bred for, by the Gypsies, because of it's sturdy structure and small, but heavy and powerful, size and dense bone. The word “Cob” is defined in the dictionary as a "small, heavy set horse," the Cob is well known for its strength, tractability and feed efficiency.  The Gypsy's Cob achieved its designer looks through the perfect union of a powerful body, heavy, flat bone, abundant hair, intelligence and docility.  While a wide variation exists in size, regardless of a Gypsy Cob's height, it should always display that perfect Cob type of a powerful body set on legs of flat, dense bone, abundant hair and a kind, intelligent expression. 

Though there are other types of horses bred by Gypsies, it's the Gypsy's Cob that has received world wide acclaim and recognition. It is the Gypsy Cob which is considered THE breed and is held near and dear to the Gypsy's heart, heritage and culture.

Breed Standard


Gypsy Cobs can be any size may be from small pony, typical cob or large horse size.  

 General Appearance

The overall appearance of a Gypsy Cob should give the impression of intelligence, kindness, strength and agility. They should be of good bone, either medium weight or heavy weight, be well muscled, with a sturdy body, kind expression and abundant hair.


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 neat and well set on. The eyes should be large and set well apart with an intelligent, kind expression.


The neck should be slightly arched, well muscled, clean through the throat, but not narrow, not too short and tie in well at the shoulder and withers. 


The chest should be broad with ample muscle. The muscle along the bottom of the chest should appear in an inverted “V” shape as it ties into the forearm.


The shoulders should be deep, powerful and well sloped. 


Withers should be average in height, not too high, with a good cover of muscle. 


The back should be short, well muscled and tie in strongly at the loin.  


The barrel should be deep with well sprung ribs and a solid covering of muscle. The flank should be as deep as the girth. 


The legs should be set well under the body, straight, clean and with plenty of dense, flat bone. Forearms and gaskins should be well muscled.


Smooth and rounded across the croup, long hip with wide pelvis and well muscled buttocks.


Mane and tail should be long and thick. Abundant feather starting at the knees and hocks, preferably with hair running down the front of the leg as well as the back. Feather may be straight or curling and should cover the hoof.  (It is encouraged to show the Gypsy Cob in a natural, unclipped manner.)


Gypsy Cobs may be any color, either solid or patterned.


The Gypsy Cob should be, above all else, a kind and willing partner. It should display an intelligent character and docile temperament.



Both in-hand and under saddle, the Gypsy Cob should move in a lively and up-headed manner with a good ground covering stride.  It should always give the impression that it is moving with purpose and intent.  Knees and hocks may used in either a higher and flashier type movement or in a somewhat lower and longer stride but both should demonstrate good engagement and forward movement with straight and true lines.

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