Origin of the breed
Whereas 'cob' is a generic term used to describe a short legged type of horse or pony with a compact powerful stocky build and large joints, the Traditional Cob is a distinctive breed of cob originally bred and kept by the nomadic Traveller / Gypsy community of Ireland and Britain (now referred to as Ireland and the UK) to pull their Traveller barrel top / Gypsy wagons. Although the Traditional Cob has a powerful stocky build and large joints the same as the 'generic' cob what makes the Traditional Cob a distinctive breed of cob is its ample leg feathering and abundance of flowing mane and tail and unlimited variety of colours. However, because the Traditional Cob can be from medium to very heavy boned and can have varying frames and conformation and can be any size (the Mini Traditional Cob being under 124cms) there are different Traditional Cob breed types.
Because there are different Traditional Cob breed types the name Traditional Cob is a generic name (and therefore generic term) covering all Traditional Cob breed types and this fact is born out in an article about cobs written by Horse & Hound. However, although the breed name Gypsy Cob has also been used as a generic breed name (and therefore generic term) covering all Traditional Cob breed types, in recent years the Gypsy Cob has been defined as a Traditional Cob breed type.
The Irish Cob (which as the name suggests has Irish ancestral pedigree) was officially recognised in Ireland in 1998 as a distinctive breed (and therefore a distinctive Traditional Cob breed type). The Irish Cob evolved because Traditional Cobs were mostly been bred bigger (taller and leggier) and usually hairier in Ireland than in the UK. Because the Irish Cob was bred to be a bigger (taller and leggier) Traditional Cob breed type usually with a good riding type shoulder, it is the bigger (taller & leggier) and athletically built and versatile dual-purpose (ride and drive) up to 170cms Irish Cob originally from Ireland (and therefore with Irish ancestral pedigree) that from the mid-1990s made the Traditional Cob breed so popular as a leisure horse not just in Ireland and the UK but also in countries such as Germany, Holland, France, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy and also in the USA and Australia, etc. In addition be being ridden and shown worldwide in their full 'traditional splendour' of abundant leg feathering and long thick flowing mane and tail, clipped out and hogged the Irish Cob remains a common sight on the hunting fields of Ireland and the UK as well as in heavy riding cob jumping and showing classes both in Ireland and the UK. Some of the most renowned Irish bred Traditional Cob stallions that contributed to Irish and UK Traditional Cob breeding are The Lion King, The Road Sweeper, The Old Coal Horse, The Lob and The Henry Horse.
Although Gypsy Cob has been used as a generic name (and therefore generic term) covering all Traditional Cob breed types, in recent times the Gypsy Cob has been defined as a Traditional Cob breed type. The Gypsy Cob (which usually has UK ancestral pedigree) can be shorter-legged, stockier, and stouter-bodied than the Irish Cob and can have a broader front (chest and shoulders) than the Irish Cob. The Gypsy Cob can also have withers that are flatter and set further back than the Irish Cob. The Gypsy Cob croup can also be shorter than the croup of the Irish Cob and can have a steeper slope to the tail than the Irish Cob. In addition, whereas the Irish Cob continues to be bred to be a big (up to 170cms) Traditional Cob, in recent times the Gypsy Cob has been bred to be a smaller (under 132cms) Traditional Cob with many of the most prized Gypsy Cobs (aka Mins Cobs) now under 120cms.
Traditional Gypsy Cob
The Traditional Gypsy Cob is the same Traditional Cob breed type the Irish Cob (and therefore usually has Irish ancestral pedigree). The Traditional Gypsy Cob (which would be more traditional than the ‘modern’ Gypsy Cob) was officially recognised in the UK in 2012 as a distinctive breed (and therefore a distinctive Traditional Cob breed type).
Because the Stepping Cob is a Traditional Cob with natural elevated knee and hock action the Stepping Cob (which usually has UK ancestral pedigree) is a specific Traditional Cob breed type.
Outside of their native lands of Ireland and the UK other names are used for Traditional Cobs including Tinker (or Irish Tinker) and Gypsy Vanner etc