A facet of the past? Or a beautiful rendition of the present and future? The Gypsy Horse, or Tinker, Or Irish Cob goes by a hundred names, but it never ceases to charm the horse lovers from a young girl to older grandparents. Gypsy horses have enticed everybody with hoofbeats in their hearts and minds. But why do these feathered beauties come galloping into our minds? Feathers, manes, and tails a-flow?
The gypsy horse stemmed from the Irish Romany travelers throughout Britain, as they sought to breed more easy-tempered strong horses to pull their carriage homes (Also known as Vardos) across the country. These horses were partners, friends, and part of the family too, as they were as much needed as any human. This began in around the mid-1800’s, long after the Romany people had arrived in Britain, which was close to the 1500’s. The people traveled the countryside living out of their wagons and on the land, and as such, the horses were often incredibly healthy, being able to feast on a variety of grasses to keep their digestive tracts in good order.
However, it was after the Second World War that the Gypsy Vanner exploded onto the scene. Before them, the Roma people had used anything they could buy or breed to pull their Vardo, but before long, a cross of the Shire, the Clydesdale, and some other coloured breeds began to take shape. This horse was as broad as it was tall, With mane, tail, and feather in abundance, strong hooves, a temperament that meant that the horse could be left in the care of the children without fear of kicking or biting. These horses were bred specifically for these traits and also for their colour. Coloured horses were “In vogue” so to speak, always flashy and stunning and sought after, and the Roma had them in droves.
There was never a studbook until 1996 to record this wonderful breed, so much of their recorded breeding has been lost, but from that point, they were shipped out to the Americas and their breeding was kept recorded, resulting in a more valuable horse. Certain lines such as the Lion King are highly sought after, usually piebalds. Some breeders are beginning to branch out in the genetics, such as the stunning Hermits Silver Shadow
Nowadays, they Gypsy Horse is more used for pleasure. Its temperament makes it wonderful for use in riding schools and riding for the disabled, as they are calm, honest workers who know their job. They are true to their earliest breeding, a little flashier movement but still the wonderful horse they were bred to be, and as we see from the recurring Appleby show each year in England, they are still incredibly popular horses that are going to be around for a very long time.
Photo courtesy of Flickr, seen here