Showing the Gypsy Horse
For the purpose of this article, I have called them Gypsy Horses,
as, regardless of the names they are called, they are still the same breed
in terms of type, conformation and temperament.
I have been asked to produce a short article as a guide for new owners,
breeders and all admirers of this breed who wish to show their gypsy horses
As a family run showing, competing and training yard, we have competed
in possibly every discipline within the equestrian field, including dressage, show jumping, hunting, driving and showing with many breeds. My first love
is the Gypsy Horse and obviously our faithful Gypsy Horses have all had
a go at whatever discipline we attend with the other horses. So, we have
certainly made these Gypsy Horses versatile in this modern world.
As a long term admirer for to many years to mention and also having this
breed as part of my family for a few generations, I will attempt to give
you some helpful guidelines
In the UK we show the Gypsy Horse in many classes at local level. They
can be found in any one or more of these classes. Breed classes, Cob classes,
Coloured Horse and Pony, Family Horse and Pony, Working classes, Young Stock.
Also they compete in general fun classes including children's gymkhanas
and games classes. We also always like to give them a chance to show off
their jumping skills, in fun jumping classes. Surprisingly for some of you,
I have owned two jumping Gypsy Horses. One standing at 15.2hh and my current
mare that is now on foaling duties standing at 16.2hh. Both of these horses
have been well known on the jumping circuit. My 15.2hh, which I owned in
excess of 25 years ago, was the highest puissance jumper in the County and
he thought nothing of clearing a 5foot 8inch high, large spread.
When it comes to County level we tend to, at the moment, concentrate
on Coloured qualifying classes, so our horses are registered with CHAPS
(Coloured Horse and Pony Society) and entered as 'Traditional'. At this
moment in time CHAPS offer the highest qualifying classes. All horses are
also registered with the new Gypsy Cob Society in the UK
With a Gypsy Horse everyone, including the Judge, will not just be taken
by flashy markings. The confirmation and movement is paramount, as it is
for any type of show horse, even a bay.
On show days
All Gypsy Horses are left completely natural, there is no trimming, pulling
The tails and manes are never treated with oil or coat shine as this
dampens and flattens the hair. The Gypsy Horse must have a full bouncy mane
(including forelock) tail and feathers that fly to the point of being unruly.
We wash all in a basic shampoo with no conditioner, then blow dry to get
maximum effect, The head is never trimmed and all the whiskers are left
The preparation in the gypsy cob for shows is year long, looking after
mane, feathers and tail. If all this is well cared for, with no bog burn,
rubbing or pulling out of mane, you will have your turnout for the show
ring. It is as simple as that.
SHOWING IN HAND
All cobs, no matter what breed, are powerhouses on short legs. In the
UK they should be over 14.2hh but not over 15hh for Cob showing classes.
A lightweight cob should have at least 8 12 inches of bone and be able
to carry up to 14 stone and a heavyweight should have a minimum of 9 inches
of bone and be able to carry more than 14 stone, (196lbs)
In hand, your Gypsy Horse must walk and trot freely. The trot should
be strong and powerful with a certain amount of speed to accentuate his
strong forward going trot with his powerful quarters driving him from behind.
The trot must be kept straight so an athletic handler is recommended!!!!
We always show our gypsy horses in plain leather show bridle without
fancy trimmings, with a leather lead rein of the same colour. This shows
the horse off rather than distract the judges' eye to fancy tack. Cobs tend
to be always shown in what could be described as 'good working tack'.
With a gypsy cob you make an impression as you walk in the ring. They
are astounding when in full flight so use every advantage and space to show
Yearlings and weanlings are shown in bit less in-hand leather bridles.
Stallions are always shown in full stallion attire complete with bit
and roller and side reins. They are shown together in one ring but with
plenty of room between. All must be controllable and not cause a disruption
to other horses or exhibitors of the showing class. Stallions that are seen
to be of not good handling or causing ring problems will be asked to leave
the ring by the judge or ring steward and not judged. All stallions shown
in this country are there to represent the breed and indeed gain stud bookings
as a direct result. So bad mannered un-controllable stallions will not be
judged and quite rightly are classed as a disgrace to the exhibitor and
or the show committee if the behaviour is allowed to continue on the show
ground in general.
As a final note no entire horse is allowed at a public exhibition over
the age of 2 years without a bit in its mouth, All stallions shown in breed
classes are licensed by the breed societies, in some breeds this only involves
a vets certification, but some breed societies insist on a qualified breed
society inspector to also evaluate the stallion.
SHOWING UNDER SADDLE
Once again this is kept as workman-like, a basic cob bridle with a flat
leather nose and brow band, and usually a Pelham bit with curb chain, with
double reins. The saddle is a plain straight cut showing saddle that shows
off the powerful shoulders of the horse.
In the UK all riding classes are the same in terms of initial requirements.
All the horses will walk trot and canter together on each rein, incorporating
a change of rein. Then individual showing is required. All Cob classes and
coloured classes require a gallop and this is where countless hours at home,
teaching your gypsy horse not to rush straight onto his forehand, pay off!!
With a Gypsy Horse and the wonderful leg extension they have, a good
short individual show well done is much better than a complicated show done
Samstes Dream Maker- GYPSY COB GELDING-practising his lengthening and
shortening of stride. He is already a successful show winner.
Tradition recommends a Bowler hat for men and a hunting cap for ladies.
A Tweed jacket with fawn or buff breeches, not white. Leather boots with
garter straps and leather or string gloves. A plain leather showing cane/crop
is also carried which should not exceed 32 inches. Shirt and tie completes
This is a gelding destined for the qualifying rounds this coming season.
Care and preparation mean he will still have these wonderful feathers and
his mane and tail even after our wet, muddy winter.
I hope you have found this article of some help to your coming show season.
If you have any more individual questions, feel free to contact me direct
and I will be happy to help.