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 created by the nomadic Traveller / Gypsy community of Ireland and Britain (now known as Ireland and the UK) to pull their Traveller barrel top / Gypsy wagons. Although the Traditional Cob has a compact 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.
Because Traditional Cobs can be from medium to very heavy boned and can have varying frames and conformation and can be any size (with the Mini Traditional Cob being under 134cms) the Traditional Cob breed is comprised of different breed types. However, in their native lands of Ireland and the UK the generic terms Traditional Cob and Gypsy Cob are used for all Traditional Cob breed types and this fact is born out in an article about cobs written by Horse & Hound.
When the Irish Cob studbook was approved by the Irish State in Ireland in 1998 the Irish Cob was recognised as a distinctive Traditional Cob breed type native to Ireland (therefore with its own Irish Cob Breed Standard). The Irish Cob evolved as a distinctive Traditional Cob breed type 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 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 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 riding cob jumping and showing classes both in Ireland and the UK. This is because the original versatile dual-purpose (ride and drive) Irish Cob with Irish ancestral pedigree has remained unchanged. Some of the most renowned Irish bred Traditional Cob stallions that contributed to Irish and UK (Irish and Gypsy) Traditional Cob breeding are The Lion King, The Road Sweeper, The Old Coal Horse, The Lob and The Henry Horse.
Traditional Irish Cob
Because the Irish Cob continues to be bred in its traditional (original) form and type the Irish Cob is also referred as the Traditional Irish Cob.
Irish Traditional Cob
The Irish Traditional Cob can be any type of Traditional Cob or Gypsy Cob bred in Ireland.
Although Gypsy Cob is a generic term used for all Traditional Cob breed types, the Gypsy Cob (which usually has UK ancestral pedigree) has evolved into a distinctive Traditional Cob breed type.
Not only is the Gypsy Cob now being bred under 148cms (with some of the most prized Gypsy Cobs now under 120cms), but the Gypsy Cob tend to be stockier, stouter-bodied and shorter-legged than the Irish Cob and to have a broader front (chest and shoulders) than the Irish Cob. Built for pulling power, the 'power-packed' Gypsy Cob is described as ‘built like a tank’.
In addition to being bred to have an exceptionally powerful front (chest and shoulders) the Gypsy Cob now tends to have front legs that can be set more forward (and can therefore have a more upright humerus) than the Irish Cob and to have a wither that can be flatter and set further back than the Irish Cob. Because the build of the 'modern' Gypsy Cob front (chest and shoulders) contributes to 'step' (high knee action at trot), 'step' is more akin to the Gypsy Cob than the Irish Cob.
Because the Gypsy Cob can have a more upright shoulder and 'set back' wither than the Irish Cob, the Gypsy Cob can therefore have a shorter back than the Irish Cob and an underline that is longer 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.
Although in recent times the Gypsy Cob (which usually has UK ancestral pedigree) has evolved into a distinctive Traditional Cob type, all Traditional Cob breed types (including the Irish Cob) are still referred to generically (as a group) as Traditional Cob and Gypsy Cob.
Traditional Gypsy Cob
Although Gypsy Cob is a generic term used for all Traditional Cob breed types, when the Traditional Gypsy Cob studbook was approved in the UK in 2012 the Traditional Gypsy Cob Breed Standard (although very shortened) followed the Irish Cob breed standard. As a result the Irish Cob (aka the Traditional Irish Cob) and the Traditional Gypsy Cob (which usually has Irish ancestral pedigree) are similar.
NOTE: Outside their native lands of Ireland and the UK Traditional Cobs also have other breed type names such as Tinker (or Irish Tinker) in the Holland and Germany and Gypsy Vanner in the USA.