The Traditional Cob

About The Breed

Although cob is a name given in Ireland and the UK to describe a type of horse with a compact powerful stocky build and large joints, the Traditional Cob is a distinctive breed of cob. What makes the Traditional Cob a distinctive breed of cob is its ample leg feathering and abundance of mane and tail. Although the Traditional Cob can now be any colour, before the 1990s the Traditional Cob was predominantly piebald (black with white body markings).

Country of Origin: Ireland

Although the Traditional Cob was bred in Ireland and the UK by Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies before the breed was first exported from Ireland and the UK in the 1990s, because the first (breed foundation) Traditional Cobs were bred in Ireland by Irish Travellers the country of origin of the Traditional Cob is Ireland. All Traditional Cobs, no matter what country they are in, are therefore Traditional Cobs from Ireland or the descendants of Traditional Cobs from Ireland. Some of the most renowned breed foundation Traditional Cob stallions from Ireland are The Lion King, The Road Sweeper, The Old Coal Horse, The Lob, and The Old Henry Horse.

Gypsy Cob Caravan

Breed Types

Irish Cob

Because the Traditional Cob originated in Ireland, the Traditional Cob was given the name Irish Cob in Ireland. The Irish Cob was officially recognised in Ireland in 1998 as a native Irish breed.

The Irish Cob is a versatile ride and drive under 170 cm Traditional Cob breed type. It is this versatile ride and drive Traditional Cob breed type, with its handsome straight head, that in the 1990s made the Traditional Cob 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 to being ridden and shown worldwide in its full 'traditional splendor' 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 cob showing classes both in Ireland and England.

Irish Cob
The Irish Cob Breed Standard (1998)
General Appearance

The Irish Cob is compact and powerful, ample both in muscle and bone, yet, with an ability to perform as a good all‐purposes animal. Some Irish Cobs tend to be more “stocky” than others. The Irish Cob is well-balanced and proportioned, standing straight and square and offering an imposing appearance.

Topline

The head, which should be held proudly, should be carried on a powerful and arched, well “set on,” neck. The neck should appear to “carry on” through good withers and to finish at the start of the back (this feature should be particularly evident in stallions). The back which should be short and straight should slope gently upwards to a well-muscled croup (the backbone/spine or the hip bones should not be apparent). The croup, which is quite high and generous, should have both croup muscles well-defined, the top of the quarters being exceptionally well muscled, broad and ample. The angle of the spine from the croup to the tail should slope gently downwards and should not be exaggerated, this allows for a high, well “set on”, tail and contributes to good well-rounded quarters.

Bone

Irish Cobs are from medium weight to heavy weight (Some allowance in bone measurement can be made for mares and geldings only).

In Motion

Irish Cobs with their unique action, luxuriant hair and feathering and the large range of colours available, combine to present a beautiful and varied sight to see when turned out at their best, particularly when in motion.

Temperament

The Irish Cob should possess a docile and willing nature, with a friendly disposition towards humans and other animal species. Displays of aggressive and threatening behaviour such as ears back, kicking, biting, rearing and not being under control of the handler, will result in expulsion from Approval Inspection and the Show Ring.

Height

Under 170cms

Head

Straight, handsome and in proportion to the rest of the horse. The forehead should be broad and the muzzle, jaw and cheek should be generous.

Mouth

A level bite.

Eyes

Quite bold, open and set well apart.

Ears

Neat and well set on.

Neck

Compact, but not too short and should be generously muscled, including the crest (stallion’s necks should be particularly well muscled and crested).

Shoulders

Ample, powerful and sloping.

Withers

Of average protrusion or height and should be encased in plenty of muscle and flesh.

Chest

Powerful, well muscled and not too broad or narrow.

Back

Short, straight, well covered in muscle and flesh and slope gently upwards towards the croup.

Hindquarters and Hind Legs

The hindquarters should be very generous, well-rounded, broad and powerful with a well-muscled high croup. The second thigh should also be very generous, quite long and well coupled to good straight powerful hocks. The hind legs should be well boned and muscled.

Body

Short and compact with ribs well sprung to barrel shape.

Forelegs

Powerful and not too short. There should be a good length of well-muscled forearm and generously boned shins.

Knees and Hocks

Well-developed and of generous dimensions but should be in balance with the proportions of the horse.

Fetlock Joints

Match other joints in power, size and build.

Patterns

Sufficient bone and not too long (straight or over angled pasterns are a fault).

Hooves

Well shaped, neat and of a size capable of carrying the frame of the horse without stress.

Leg Hair/Feathering

Leg hair/feathering is a characteristic and decorative feature of the Irish Cob breed. This is especially prominent in the heavier Irish Cobs. However, the amount of leg hair/feathering present may vary considerably, particularly in the case of medium weight Irish Cobs. Leg hair/feathering should, at the very least, fall from the back of the knees and hocks, down to a thick covering of hair/feathers on the heels. Leg hair/feathering should also fall over the front of the hoof, from at least the coronet.

Mane and Tail

Luxuriant and capable of growing to a substantial length.

Movement

Appear sound and free from obvious hereditary defects.

Colour

The following colours are considered most typical:

  • All solid colours including black, bay, brown, chestnut, palomino, grey and roan.
  • All solid colours including black, bay, brown, chestnut, palomino, grey and roan, which contain white body markings.

White body markings are measured in percentages and exclude the head, legs and underbelly.

Irish Cobs, which have white body markings, are described as Coloured.

Irish Cobs, which have white markings on the underbelly, are described as Splashed or Blagdon.

Gypsy Cob

Although the first Traditional Cobs were bred in Ireland by Irish Travellers, it is because there was no register or recorded name in Ireland for the Traditional Cob until the first Irish Cob studbook was officially founded in Ireland in 1998 that Traditional Cobs exported from UK before 1998 were be given the name Gypsy Cob. However, by the time the Traditional Cob was officially recognised in Ireland in 1998 with the name Irish Cob the name Gypsy Cob had already been established worldwide.

In 2005 the Gypsy Cob was also named the Traditional Gypsy Cob in the UK. There are two types of Traditional Gypsy Cob. One type is an Irish Traditional Cob (which is the Irish Cob) and the other type is an English Traditional Cob (which is the Irish Cob with some Welsh Cob characteristics). Although the Traditional Gypsy Cob is also called the Gypsy Cob, the Gypsy Cob that evolved in England from the Irish Cob can be quite different from the Irish Cob.

Gypsy Cob
Gypsy Cob Breed Characteristics

The Gypsy Cob then evolved in the UK from the Irish Cob can be quite different in the following ways:

  1. The Gypsy Cob can be smaller, shorter-legged, stockier, stouter-bodied, and also heavier-boned and feathered than the Irish Cob.
  2. The Gypsy Cob not only can have a broader and more substantial chest and shoulders than the Irish Cob, but the Gypsy Cob can also have rounder flatter withers that can be set further back than the Irish Cob.
  3. The Gypsy Cob can also not only have a shorter back than the Irish Cob, but the Gypsy Cob can also have a back that can have a steeper slope upward from the withers to the croup than the Irish Cob.
  4. The Gypsy Cob croup can be shorter than the croup of the Irish Cob and can have a steeper slope to the tail than the Irish Cob.
  5. The Gypsy Cob can also have a 'sweeter' and more 'ponyish' head (often described as a 'Bambi head') and smaller ears than the Irish Cob.
Mini Cob

The Mini Cob evolved in England from the Traditional Cob. Although the Mini Cob is under 13 hands (138 cm) discerning Miniature Cob breeders aim to breed Mini Cobs under 12.2 hands (124 cm).

Mini Irish Cob

A Mini Cob that looks like an Irish Cob can also be called a Mini Irish Cob.

Mini Gypsy Cob

A Mini Cob that looks like a Gypsy Cob can also be called a Mini Gypsy Cob.

Mini Gypsy Cob
Stepping Cob

The Stepping Cob evolved in England from the Traditional Cob. The Stepping Cob has a natural elevated knee and hock action.

Stepping Cob

Other Names

Tinker and Irish Tinker

Because there was no register or recorded name in Ireland for the Traditional Cob until the first Irish Cob studbook was officially founded in Ireland in 1998 Traditional Cobs exported from Ireland to Holland and Germany before 1998 were given the names Tinkers and Irish Tinker in Holland and Germany. However, because Tinker is a historical name for Irish Travellers it is evident that before 1998 Holland and Germany were aware that the first Traditional Cobs were bred in Ireland by Irish Travellers.

Gypsy Vanner and Gypsy

Because there was no register or recorded name in Ireland for the Traditional Cob until the first Irish Cob studbook was officially founded in Ireland in 1998 Traditional Cobs exported from Ireland to Holland and Germany before 1998 were given the names Tinkers and Irish Tinker in Holland and Germany. However, because Tinker is a historical name for Irish Travellers it is evident that before 1998 Holland and Germany were aware that the first Traditional Cobs were bred in Ireland by Irish Travellers.

A Message From Ireland

Because the first Traditional Cobs were bred in Ireland by Irish Travellers, and because The Traditional Cob Registry (TCR) is in Ireland, TCR can say from Ireland that the roots of the Traditional Cob are deeply rooted in Ireland. However, because TCR knows and respects the fact that Traditional Cobs were bred in Ireland and the UK by Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies before the breed was first exported from Ireland and the UK in the 1990s, TCR registers Traditional Cobs under the Irish-given and UK-given names Traditional Cob, Irish Cob, Traditional Irish Cob, Gypsy Cob, and Traditional Gypsy Cob.

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