The Gypsy Draft Horse is a Super Driving Horse with Excellent Endurance Skills !

The Gypsy Draft Horse is a driving horse with a docile and gentle temperament, bred for endurance.

Gypsy Draft Horse
Photo: By Karakal (Own work)
[GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


This is the breed of the Irish Traveller People or Gypsies of the British Isles and was bred for their needs.
This horse is also described as traditional coloured cob or piebald (black and white)and skewbald (brown and white)-cob.
In the USA it is called Gypsy Vanner Horse, in Ireland Irish cob piebald and in the Netherlands and Germany it is known as the Irish Tinker Horse.

The breed is a mixture of pony breeds and draft horse and therefor occurs in quite a variation of appearance and size.
The size varies between 12 and 15.3 h.h. There is also a variation known, the "drum horse", which is bred with Shire or Clydesdale bloodlines.
They can reach heights of 16 h.h and taller. However, such a horse needs to serve in the Royal Forces before being called a "drum horse".
Obvious that there aren't a lot of real drum horses about.

A planned breeding is a new concept and a breed registration exists only since 1996.
Until then the Irish Travellers bred this horse customized to their needs, without a real breeding concept.

Breed characteristics:

This horse is a heavy carriage horse, but it is lighter than a cob or a heavy horse.
It can pull large loads, such as whole caravans.

It has got a "sweet head", this describes the balance and ratio of the head to the body.
Its compact body is very powerful, the neck and the back are short and the breast is broad. The heavy wither is round.

There is no set colour standard, they can be piebalds or skewbalds.
Another characteristic is the hairy legs, which are feathered from the canon bone or hock down to the fetlocks, where the hair is covering the hooves.

Gypsy draft horses have got a very gentle and docile temperament, which makes them very good family horses: they are very gentle with children, too.
Their endurance skills are extremely good because they can go for a long distance without getting tired.


Gypsy draft horses make very good driving horses and are suitable for pulling caravans and barrel-wagons even for long distances.
They can also be used for riding and as show horses. The larger variation, the drum-horse's haircoat colour is also piebald or skewbald.

This horse was widely spread in Scotland and is used by the Household Cavalry (the mounted guard of the reigning monarch).
It is there used to carry the 90-pound-heavy silver kettle drums, accompanying the band.

The probably best known drum- horse is "Cicero", which was discovered by Queen Elizabeth II in Edinburgh, where it was used as a milk-cart horse.

Interested in other Heavy Horse breeds?

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