The Gypsy Vanner Horse is also known as the Irish Cob, Gypsy Cob, Gypsy Vanner, Coloured Cob or Tinker horse. It is a horse breed that originates from the UK and Ireland and the members of the breed come in a variety of colors but they are predominantly of piebald coloring and have many draft characteristics. They have heavy bone and abundant feathering on the lower legs and though there is no known exact history of the horse it is believed by many that the Gypsy Vanner is descended from a combination of Shires, Clydesdales, Friesians, and Dales Ponies with their origins in the Romani gypsy community of the United Kingdom.
There may not be a set color standard for the Gypsy Cobs but the breed is often piebald in coloring. In the United Kingdom patterns consisting of patches of black and white are traditionally called piebald, and patches of any other colour with white are called skewbald.
Along with feathering of the legs, long hair starting at the cannon bone and flowing down over the hooves, the Gypsy Vanner tends to have a plentiful mane and tale. They are powerfully built and compact with a short back and neck. They are also heavy boned and the average height for a Gypsy Vanner is around 14 and 16 hands high, however, there is no actual height limit in the registry.
They are also known to have heavy hips, strong shoulders and rounded withers and their hair tends to be straight and silky. They also have large hooves and their hind legs should not be too straight. They are strong horses with plenty of endurance and they can go for long distances without tiring.
Up until the late 20th century the Gypsy Vanner was not a recognized breed and not much is known about the history of the bloodline because pedigrees were usually kept secret and only family members knew the details. Once the interest in the breed grew, several breed registries were developed.
The first registered horses of this breed were imported to North America in November 1996. Nowadays there are three different registry classifications for the breed in the US, which are based on height. If the horse is under 14 hands, it is considered to be a "mini Gypsy". If the horse is 14-15.2 hands high, it is known as a "classic Gypsy", and if the breed is 15.2 or taller, it is known as a "grand Gypsy".
The Gypsy Vanner was initially bred to be a wagon horse by the Romany. They pulled wagons or caravans known as Vardos - a type of wagon that people occasionally lived in. They were also used as riding horses for children, however, today they are no longer used for pulling Vardos but they are looked upon as a symbol of power and strength among the Romany.