COB versus VANNER explained among other things...

In the USA today there exists multiple separate registries and different names for one single breed of animal. There is absolutely no difference between a "vanner" and a "cob". These are simply different names referencing one single breed of animal and this is proven 100 percent by DNA. There IS ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE. Those promoting this misrepresentation are doing so strictly to promote what they believe will propogate to more money on sales of a "vanner" versus a "cob". It's sad that as of 2012 this is still going on here in this country. Our breed needs a good solid single registry to unite all owners and get this breed known as the true multi use amazing athletic breed that it is. Many horses here in the USA are registered in both "cob" and "vanner" registries. What you call your horse is up to you as the owner however, it is proven that this is definitely one single animal breed developed by the travelers in the UK and European nations.

Every true purebred gypsy cob reproduces true every time when bred to another. The breed has always had a variance in height normally ranging from 13hh to 16.2hh with the vast majority standing between 14-14.2 hands. This is simply due to the creation of this breed being the pairing of the giant draft breeds with the native pony breeds of the United Kingdom (UK) primarily the Dales and Fell.

This is ONE single breed of horse and pony, always has been, always will be. DNA and lineages have long since dispelled this "vanner" as a "separate breed" or somehow "elite subset of the gypsy cob" myth. This is totally false. The "cob" is absolutely in no way a "lesser" animal than a "vanner", they are indeed exactly one and the same breed of animal. In any articles you have read that state "vanner" is an elite subset, this is unfortunately for an unknowing public a very misguided attempt at marketing.

Cob is indeed the normal term used when describing these horses and ponies in the UK and European nations. "Tinker" is also a large terminology outside of the UK. In many countries outside of the UK, "Tinker" is the terminology for "Gypsy". The word "Tinker" is not used in the UK where it is considered derogatory to the travelers.

Gypsies, as we here in the USA call the group of people prefer the term traveler. Terms you will find the HORSE BREED noted under are: Cob, Irish Cob, Tinker, Irish Tinker, Romany Cob, Gypsy Cob, Gypsy Vanner, Traditional Cob, Coloured Cob, Backy and Blattie.

A BIT OF HISTORY ON THE BREED: In the 1980's and 1990's outside of the UK "Tinker" associations were abundant overseas as the horses gained great popularity with the "non-traveler" communities due to their multiple discipline capabilities and fabulous temperament. Inside the UK Coloured breed associations and registries began registering the cobs as separate divisions and they began to be shown heavily by non-traveler owners. Non-travelers would most often shave all of their feathering off as they did not wish to be associated with the travelers. The breeds endurance is legendary and once their jumping ability was discovered, fox hunters everywhere enjoyed crosses or purebreds of the traditional cobs for the sport.

Contrary to what is on large trader sites on the web, the legs of the well conformed gypsy horse or pony are to be as straight as possible. These are not to mimic a large giant draft "pulling" horse. The hope for the overseas breeders of the gypsy cobs is to have produced an athletic "all around" competitive creature that can excel at multiple disciplines. Common sense applies. Conformation is conformation!

Overseas in multiple countries, it did not take long before people were in awe of the breeds gentle nearly unflappable personality and their athletic ability when they were working with a well conformed animal. Their extremely high level of intelligence makes them a trainers dream horse. They are intuitive and willing by nature, in ten years with the breed, I have never experienced any that did not want to work with you, be with you.

ASSOCIATIONS AND REGISTRIES: Overseas and in the UK there exists both coloured horse and pinto registries that denote sections for a separate breed standard and show standards for the gypsy cobs. In the early 2000's the old "Tinker" associations all joined forces and became branches of the "Irish Cob Society" in an effort to unite the breed AND unite the Studbooks and Breeding records worldwide. Many of our horses here at Emerald Winds Farm came from these original old registries and all of our primary breeding stock were premium registered.

Currently here in the USA, although Pinto and Coloured horse associations and groups exist, the gypsy cobs are disallowed due to their draft heritage. It would be wonderful for the breed if we could get to take part in established Pinto and Colored Horse Association show systems. For some reason, the USA feels differently about draft heritage than overseas registries do. To date, only open shows, draft horse shows, and many Friesian Associations have allowed us to participate. Getting a "newer" breed started in the USA is quite an undertaking as we are so vast the horses even at numbers around 3000 are spread out across the country.

To date, many horses and ponies here in the USA are double or triple registered with all multiple USA breed organizations, both as"cobs" and "vanners" and some as "drum horses" . This issue is extremely confusing for newcomers. This is also very costly for the horse owners and somewhat stressful as the rules and regulations are all a bit different amongst all three USA registries.

Today, in the USA it takes only a payment to have your horse registered as a "vanner" with the vanner registry as well as a payment to have your horse registered as a "cob" with any of the other registries for this breed.

HOW DID THIS CONFUSION HAPPEN? Naming conventions from country to country unfortunately were not in sync simply because no country overseas wishes to denote the travelers as a member of their community. The travelers are an entire culture without a country.

Unfortunately to this very day the travelers are truly shunned by non-travelers in the UK in such a way that it is very difficult to even imagine here in the United States any longer. I have witnessed this firsthand and was totally upset at what I have seen. Segregation exists on a huge level overseas in the UK and European nations and due to that fact, whether or not these Travelers themselves are the horse culture and the true originators of this wonderful breed, these nations shunned both the travelers, their culture and their horses for many generations. This breed IS their pride and their heritage. Great Grandfathers and Great Uncles will sit by the fires and tell you tales of how they created the breed and the horses they remember so well. Did every horse have a name?!** Certainly not! (This is another tidbit made up for marketing here in the USA) But they will remember "the stallion" or "the mare" and tell you its behavior, its breeding ability, its stamina. The true breeder families will tell you why they wanted to pair "this mare of theirs" to "that stallion" and what they hoped to breed forward from the pairing. The bulk breeders will remember which stallion was in with his mares during which season and then pulled out for anothers mares. The true Travelers society IS a horse culture at its best unlike anything here in the USA today.

This prejudice overseas is why the breed though so abundant was and still is today called by different terms in so many countries. This is also unfortunately why when marketed here in the USA, the existing "traditional cob" was renamed and marketed under lovely stories portraying a gentile and bohemian existence and called "vanner". The simple truth is, many of the travelers have extremely difficult lives.

These are a people that can be the loveliest family in the world, church going, hard working, raising and loving their children, trying to teach their children right from wrong, and honest folks, and like any other culture, a few bad apples have given the entire group of people a bad reputation. As within any culture regardless of what it is, there are good and bad. The good does not seem to be noticed overseas. It is NOT a charmed existence. This is a culture that is unique and depends upon one another for almost everything one can imagine.

"Vanner" is a lovely term and a great marketing slogan here in the USA. "Vanner" however, was not ever a term used in the UK to denote this beautiful breed of horse. The term "vanner" mentioned in a pub full of travelers is likely to have you thrown bodily out the door in the UK as it is an insulting reference to any horse of true traveler breeders in the UK.

As the second breeding farm in the USA Emerald Winds has been involved in this breed for a decade and have watched all of the changes in awe. For almost the first five years we were involved, there were all of 4 farms doing any serious breeding. The numbers stayed under 40 horses until quantity horse traders got involved. Because of the traders, the numbers have escalated in recent years. It is nice that people have somewhat fallen in love with the allure of the breed however there has been a huge downside. Unfortunately today for our breed there exists a somewhat "puppy mill" mentality and people are over breeding and assuming every colt born should be a stallion. The true reality is that one colt in thousands should be a stallion and faults are hereditary. Horses are not a "get rich quick scheme". Not unless you simply do not care about what you produce nor what you sell through.

HOPES FOR THE USA: In the very near future, breeding stock inspections will take place to aid all gypsy horse owners here in the USA in safeguarding the perpetuation of this the unique breed that we love. Inspections have been in place in overseas registries for over 20 years. Stranger our senior stallion was done in the early 1980's receiving Premium and Supreme. In his registry overseas at that time the German Friesian Breeding manager had established both the breed standards and the inspection rules and regulations which included the full length stallion inspections that we see Friesian Stallions being put through today to achieve breeding approval. Stranger was the only Gypsy horse to pass in the round and scored a 38 out of a possible 40 points achieving a score higher than most Friesians of the day. He went on to win breeding awards for his offspring and is a noted sire both overseas and here in the USA.

A purebred traditional coloured cob exhibits specific traits. These are and will always be "the traditional cobs" of European and UK nations. It is very unfortunate for this breed that in the last ten years many crosses have indeed been sold through to the USA by large scale quantity horse traders as "purebreds". Many "famous" lines advertised are simply fabricated out of thin air. To that end, this breed needs your support. The breed needs one solid foundation here in the USA with a united group of ethical breeders and enthusiasts all united toward one goal, producing the best conformation, the healthiest, and the gentlest animals we can while stressing for and maintaining the correct type.

We need people that will work only "for the betterment of the breed" to improve the breeding stock, to improve the education, to promote the correct lines and ethical breeding practices, grading / rating standards, and ethical business practices. A Breed Registry is to be established "for the breed of animal" to safeguard it and to perpetuate proper type, from the heart, NOT for any other reason and certainly not for profit of an individual or self perceived prestige.


We need the breed to move forward in the USA with excellent conformation being at the forefront. We need good people to make responsible decisions for the future of the Gypsy Cob Breed in the USA is at stake.