Traditional Irish Gypsy Cobs

Cillbarra Daisy

Feather – joy and pride

Cillbarra Seán

Having spent years involved in breeding and learning to understand these wonderful and marvellous horses (originally bred by Irish Travellers), it has become my life’s work to preserve, protect and improve this outstanding magical breed.

They come in a wide range of colours, and there is an equally wide range of names for these horses. Every country now has its own preference: these include the Irish Cob, Tinker, Traditional Cob, Irish Tinker, Gypsy Cob, Gypsy Horse, Gypsy Vanner ... to name but a few.

It’s hard to believe, and yet so simple: in Ireland these stunning horses were always called PIEBALDS (or what we would call black tobianos), regardless of their colour! Of course, distinctions were always drawn between Splashed and Blagdon, Magpie and Checkety, Yellow, Red or Blue, but the main focus was always on the unique Gypsy Cob of the Irish Travellers: its character, perfected by merciless selection, a physical build and gait designed to suit their job as workhorses and family members... and then, of course, there’s THE HAIR:

As well as having incredibly long manes and tails, they have one outstanding feature: THE FEATHER ( the hair on the legs, covering the hoofs, wrongly still called feathers), hardly to be found anymore except in the old breeding lines. True feather do not just cover the hoofs but start at the front knees and hocks, and cover the lower part of the leg – this is the joy and pride of every true Traditional Irish Gypsy Cob!

Nowadays the Gypsy Cob or Traditional Irish Cob has become somewhat established on the continent, and is well known as the perfect leisure horse for riding and driving. There are also a few serious breeders dedicated to breeding Gypsy Cobs, and they have been quite successful in improving this ancient breed.

Unfortunately, there is something of a tendency towards a lighter breed on the continent – a breed which now has little in common with the traditional Irish Gypsy Cob. We should never forget the antecedents of this breed, which was originally bred as a cart horse!

However, there are also some serious and dedicated breeders and amateurs continuing to fly the flag on behalf of the traditional Gypsy Horse. They are always on the look-out for fresh Irish bloodlines.

The most famous Gypsy stallions and mares originated in Ireland, although they were exported to England when money was short: The Lion King, Old Roadsweeper, The Lob, The Henry Horse, The Checkety Horse, The Old Horse, The Banks Mare and several other celebrities first saw the light of day on Irish soil. Many of their offspring now live in USA and England, where they are working hard to preserve and improve the breed.

We are very proud to have discovered some of the best lines to carry on this tradition!