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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
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.