The Traditional Cob Breed

Although a cob is a short-legged type of horse or pony with a compact stocky build and large joints, the Traditional Cob is a distinctive breed of cob that was originally bred and kept by the nomadic Traveller / Gypsy community that roamed the British Isles (Ireland and the UK) to pull their Traveller barrel top / Gypsy wagons.

General Appearance

Traditional Cobs, with their powerful stocky build, big bones, combined with their abundance of flowing mane and tail and leg feathering and their unlimited variety of colours, present a striking and distinctive (unique) appearance, particularly when in motion.

Bone Heaviness

Traditional Cob bone heaviness ranges from: MEDIUM - HEAVY - VERY HEAVY. Visual assessment of the hocks is not only the best method for determining bone heaviness, but it is also the best method for determining of the bone is typically shaped to be regarded as a Traditional Cob breed characteristic.

Breed Types

There are two distinctive Traditional Cob breed types native to Ireland of the UK and they are the Irish type Traditional Cob (Traditional Irish Cob / Irish Cob) and the Gypsy type Traditional Cob (Traditional Gypsy Cob / Gypsy Cob). Although the country of origin (native land) of the Irish type Traditional Cob is Ireland, the country of origin (native land) of the Gypsy type Traditional Cob is England (which in in the UK). The Irish type Traditional Cob evolved because Traditional Cobs were mostly been bred bigger (taller and leggier) and usually hairier in Ireland than in the UK.


Although Traditional Cobs are native to Ireland and the UK, Traditional Cob breeding organizations and registries established outside of Ireland and the UK during the mid-1990s have been registering Traditional Cobs that originated from Ireland and the UK and their progeny as breed Tinker and Gypsy Vanner. However, Traditional Cobs are not registered (nor therefore recognized) as breed Tinker or Gypsy Vanner in Ireland or the UK.

Irish Type Traditional Cob

Because the Irish type Traditional Cob (aka Irish Cob or Traditional Irish Cob) is bigger (taller and leggier) than the Gypsy type Traditional Cob and has more of a riding type shoulder than the Gypsy type Traditional Cob, it is the bigger (taller & leggier) and athletically built and versatile dual-purpose (ride and drive) Irish type Traditional Cob originally from Ireland that from the 1990s made the Traditional Cob breed so popular as a leisure horse or pony 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 the USA and Australia, etc. Although the Irish type Traditional Cob has a height range from 13.2 hands up to 16.2 hands they are mostly bred between this height range. ​​​Some of the most famous Irish bred Traditional Irish Cob stallions are 'The Lion King', 'The Road Sweeper', 'The Coal Horse', 'The Lob' and 'The Henry Horse'. Clipped out and hogged the Irish type Traditional Cob is a common sight on the hunting fields of Ireland and the UK and well as in Riding Cob showing classes in Ireland and the UK. The Irish type Traditional Cob should have a straight handsome head that is in proportion to its body.

Gypsy Type Traditional Cob

Although surprisingly athletic for its build, the Gypsy type Traditional Cob can be shorter-legged and stockier than the Irish type Traditional Cob and can have an exceptionally broad and powerful front (chest and shoulders) built for pulling power. For this reason, the power-packed Gypsy type Traditional Cob is often described as ‘built like a tank’. Although the original Gypsy type Traditional Cob could be as big as 15.2 hands, nowadays the Gypsy type Traditional Cob is usually bred smaller with most Gypsy type Traditional Cobs now being bred under 14.2 hands. Some of the most prized Gypsy type Traditional Cobs are under 12 hands. Bred in particular for action (step) and pulling power, the modern-day Gypsy Cob can have a wither that is set further back and that can be flatter and broader than the Traditional type Traditional Cob and can have an exceptionally broad and powerful front (chest and shoulders) with front legs that are set further in front than the Traditional Irish Cob. The Gypsy Cob croup can be shorter with a steeper slope to the tail than croup of the Irish type Traditional Cob. The modern-day Gypsy Cob should have a 'sweet’ head with a neat muzzle and small ears.


NOTE: It is because the Traditional Cob breed is comprised of the Irish type Traditional Cob and the Gypsy type Traditional Cob and crossings of the two Traditional Cob breed types that Traditional Cobs have varying sizes, frames, and conformation.

Very Heavy Bone Example

Lion King

The Lion King
Traditional Irish Cob
Bone: Very Heavy

Heavy Bone Example

Road Sweeper

The Road Sweeper
Traditional Irish Cob
Bone: Heavy

Traditional Cob Pedigrees

Irish and Gypsy Traditional Cob pedigrees have traditionally been handed down verbally from generation to generation within the Traveller / Gypsy community of Ireland and the UK. However, from the time the 'outside' worldwide community first embraced the Traditional Cob breed in the mid-1990s many pedigree registers and studbooks for Irish and Gypsy Traditional Cobs have been established worldwide by registries and organizations outside of the Traveller / Gypsy community. However, even though many Irish and Gypsy Traditional Cob studbooks and registers have been established by organizations and registries worldwide since the mid-1990s, because the Traditional Cob breed is an 'age-old' breed that was created and established by the Traveller / Gypsy Community of Ireland and the UK, no organization or registry outside of the Irish and UK Traveller / Gypsy community could claim to have created or established the breed.

The Term 'Traditional Cob'

Can the term 'Traditional Cob' be registered as a trade mark?


The term 'Traditional Cob' is a generic term (name) for an 'age-old' breed of cob that is comprised of the Irish type Traditional Cob and the Gypsy type Traditional Cob and crossings of the two Traditional Cob breed types (and therefore for the Traditional Cobs of Ireland and the UK). Because the term 'Traditional Cob' (like 'beer') is a generic term, the term 'Traditional Cob' could not be legally registered as a trade mark. The term 'Traditional Cob' has been is common use in Ireland and the UK since before the breed became popular worldwide in the mid 1990s.

Reason For Confusion

There is confusion outside of Ireland and the UK regarding what a Traditional Cob is and the difference between an Irish Cob and a Gypsy Cob. What is the cause of this confusion?


As already explained above: 'the Traditional Cob is a distinctive breed of cob that was originally bred and kept by the nomadic Traveller / Gypsy community that roamed the British Isles (Ireland and the UK) to pull their Traveller barrel top / Gypsy wagons.' and it is also explained above that 'There are two distinctive Traditional Cob breed types native to Ireland of the UK and they are the Irish type Traditional Cob (Traditional Irish Cob / Irish Cob) and the Gypsy type Traditional Cob (Traditional Gypsy Cob / Gypsy Cob). Although the country of origin (native land) of the Irish type Traditional Cob is Ireland, the country of origin (native land) of the Gypsy type Traditional Cob is England (which is in the UK). The Irish type Traditional Cob evolved because Traditional Cobs were mostly been bred bigger (taller and leggier) and usually hairier in Ireland than in the UK.'. The reason for this confusion is that most of the world famous Traditional Cob stallions are Irish type Traditional Cob stallions (such as 'The Lion King', 'The Road Sweeper', 'The Coal Horse', 'The Lob', 'The Henry Horse' and 'Old Sham') that were bred in Ireland but exported to the UK without having been registered in Ireland. For this reason, these Irish type Traditional Irish Cob that were bred in Ireland were either registered in the UK as Traditional Gypsy Cobs (and the UK therefore inappropriately given credit for breeding stallions of a type that were not originally typical to the UK) and/or having been bought from the UK were registered in the USA as Gypsy Vanner (and the UK again therefore inappropriately given credit for breeding stallions of a type that were not originally typical to the UK).