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English Breeds of Horse

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Gypsy Vanner




The Gypsy Vanner originates from the Irish travellers or gypsies from the British Isles. It is also known as the Irish Tinker or Cob Horse in Germany and the Netherlands or the Gypsy Vanner in the USA. The term "Tinker" is considered a slur by travellers, and therefore is not used in England. Bred for strength, hardiness and docility it is a mixture of draught horse and pony and varies considerably in size and type. It stands between 12.0 to 15.3 h.h. The larger variation, the Drum Horse, may reach 16.0 hands and over. The Gypsy Vanner Horse was only recently registered as a distinct breed, and was considered more of a "type" of horse until 1996. Gypsies have always bred whatever type of horse suits their needs and the availability of horse may have contributed to the type, the planned breeding of "Vanners" is a relatively new concept. A "Vanner" is a heavy carriage/cart horse that is lighter than a cob or heavy horse, but heavy enough to pull relatively large loads. To be legitimately called a drum horse the horse must have served as a drum horse with the cavalry - true of only a very small handful of horses. These horses often have cob and/or shire ancestry and may or may not be coloured.

The most common colours are piebald, skewbald, and pinto. It is a compact type of horse often with good conformation, although fairly common in appearance it may be an extravagant mover with high knee action. The head is large, with a straight or Roman nose, kind eyes and generous ears. Although the neck is short the head is well set. The back is short and strong; the chest is broad and deep, the hips are heavy, and the withers are round. The limbs are strong and hard with plenty of feathering, starting at the canon bone and the hock and flowing down over the hooves.

Vanners must also have excellent endurance, and be able to go long distances without tiring.
They are well known for their gentle, kind temperament, suitable for a horse pulling a caravan and frequently being around small children. Because of this, they make good show horses and are ideal for riding and for driving.



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