The Irish Tinker is a popular leisure horse and is one of the absolute fashion breeds in Germany. The strong piebalds have had a large fan base for many years, although they have only been recognized as an independent breed in Germany for 14 years.

The good-natured, colorful horses originally come from Great Britain and Ireland, where they were used by the wandering gypsies and tinkers as draft horses for their wagons.

These living conditions have significantly shaped the Irish tinker. His physique is strong and muscular and he is not overly tall. Its spotting is particularly striking: the tinkerers, to whom the breed owes its name, bought piebald horses sorted out by the breeders’ associations for little money.

But not only the appearance of the Irish Tinker was influenced by the gypsy life.

Breed description

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Irish tinkers are hardworking and hardworking. At the same time, they are extremely good-natured, social, and fearless.

Once you have won their trust, they are up for all kinds of fun: cross-country rides, western riding, groundwork, circus lessons, it doesn’t matter, the Irish Tinker will be a perfect partner for you.

The Irish Tinker is extremely frugal and unproblematic in keeping, a little hay and a little grass are sufficient for him. You only have to keep an eye on the expansive fetlock hangings, as the Irish Tinker can tend to be bitter.

Size: 135 – 160 cm
Origin: Great Britain, Ireland
Lifespan: 25-30 years
Color: All colors, mainly piebalds
Leisure time, therapy

Origin and breed history


The Irish Tinker is originally from Great Britain and Ireland. The word Tinker is a Gypsy word and means tinker.

Tinkers and gypsies were part of the wandering people and carried all their household items with them. Their wagons were pulled by donkeys until the end of the 19th century.

When the wagons became too heavy for donkeys, the merchants looked for powerful horses. Since the horses should be as cheap as possible, they kept buying piebalds that were not approved for breeding by the respective breeding associations.

The spotting had another advantage: the individual horses could be easily distinguished from one another. Over time, other breeds were crossed again and again, for example, Clydesdales, Shire horses, Hackneys, and Dales ponies.

In this context, however, one cannot speak of targeted breeding. In Great Britain and Ireland, the word tinker is a kind of dirty word. The Irish Tinker is known in these countries under the name Irish Cob.

The Irish Tinker

The Irish tinker came to mainland Europe as early as the end of the 20th century. In Germany and the Netherlands, the piebald horses quickly became a popular breed among recreational riders because of their friendly nature.

The Irish Tinker was only recognized as a separate breed by the German Equestrian Association in 2005.

Irish Tinkers whose height is over 160 cm are listed as an independent breed, Irish Cob. In the past, attempts were made to develop a uniform standard together with the international breed associations.

However, these efforts failed. Only Irish tinkers imported from Ireland are permitted for breeding in Germany. In their home country Ireland, trotters are crossed again and again in order to get the Tinker faster and more fun to run.

However, the typical appearance should not be lost.

The appearance of the Irish Tinker


It is unclear to many riders which type the Irish Tinker should be assigned to. His height ranges from 135 to 160 cm. Due to its strong appearance, the assignment to the cold blood type is obvious.

However, its diverse appearance makes a clear assignment difficult. Many Irish Tinkers are of the typical cold blood type, while smaller and finer-built horses are more reminiscent of ponies.

The Irish Tinker looks big-boned and strong at first glance. The head is heavy with a broad forehead and partially raised nose line (Ramskopf), the joints and bones are strong.

The split croup, as it often occurs in the Haflinger, is typical of the breed. Irish tinkers have thick fur and lush ears.

The mane and tail are dense and long, and the pronounced fetlock hangings are particularly eye-catching.

His physique predestines the Irish Tinker as workhorse and draft horse. He is rather unsuitable for demanding dressage work, as the gathering is difficult for him due to his physique.


Their spotting is characteristic of this breed. So-called plate checks, which you can easily recognize by the large patches of color, are desirable.

Black piebalds (Piebald) are also specifically bred in addition to flat-top pancakes. But brown and fox piebalds, as well as three-colored piebalds, can occur.

In addition to piebalds, monochrome horses such as black horses, foxes, or brown horses are also found every now and then. Mold, on the other hand, are extremely rare. In the case of monochrome horses, large markings on the head and legs are desirable.

Temperament and essence

Typical of the Irish Tinker is his friendly and open-minded nature. They are extremely people-centered, social, and fearless.

The Irish Tinker is a rather cozy horse with a moderate temperament without being lazy, which makes him an ideal therapy horse.

His intelligence and curiosity complete the picture. The Irish Tinker is, in addition to all of his coziness and fearlessness, a sensitive horse and has a close relationship with his caregiver.

He needs sufficient trust in his caregiver. If he lacks this, he can react stubbornly and stubbornly.

Husbandry and nutrition


Like most horses, the Irish Tinker feels most comfortable in the open stable with other horses. The breed develops sufficient winter fur in winter and can easily live outdoors all year round.

However, it is important for the Irish tinker that he can stand on a dry and mud-free surface. Due to the lush ankle hangings, the Irish Tinker tends to be a bit tough.

Persistently moist soil is nothing for this breed’s sensitive skin. Ideally, the open stable is designed with paddock plates to prevent the formation of mud.


Originally the Irish Tinker was used to areas with only a limited range of food. As a result of these circumstances, the horse’s metabolism has adjusted to drawing as much energy as possible from as little food as possible.

Similar to the Icelandic horse and the Haflinger, the Irish Tinker’s organism is completely overwhelmed by the rich roughage that is common in Germany.

He tends to get fat, but primarily has problems with easily digestible carbohydrates. This not only includes lush pasture grass but also synthetically produced concentrate and grain.

The sugar contained in Irish Tinker often causes lymph deposits. When feeding, these circumstances must be taken into account and feeding must be kept in mind.

The feeding of concentrated feed is only necessary in the rarest of cases. Sufficient hay and straw and balanced mineral feed are sufficient for the Irish Tinker.

Education and care


The Irish Tinker is a good-natured horse and does not tend to test the limits of its owner.

If you approach him with the appropriate consistency, always friendly and confident, the Irish Tinker is a real dream horse to deal with.

His sensitivity and intelligence must not be forgotten, so with patience and calm you will usually reach your goal faster with Irish Tinker than with hardship.

Many imported horses from Ireland are often a bit rowdy because they were not properly trained there. Such imported horses first need training by an experienced horseman before they can be used as beginner and therapy horses.

Because once the Irish Tinker knows what is expected of him, he is the perfect family and leisure horse.


The main focus should be on the care of the Irish Tinker’s ankle hangings. The Irish Tinker has a tendency to bully, so the fetlock must be checked regularly.

The same applies to the jet, which tends to rot if it is too wet. If you have bought an Irish tinker freshly imported from Ireland, you should take into account that it was used to different climatic conditions.

Such horses need a lot of shade in summer because they are not used to the sunshine that is common in Germany. Many Irish tinkers do not require horseshoes and have a solid horn.

However, almost all Irish tinkers have a flat sole and, depending on the nature of the path, tend to walk with feeling. In such cases, hoof boots or horseshoes are essential.

Health and Typical Diseases

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The Irish Tinker reacts sensitively to mistakes in feeding and husbandry. Diseases such as allergies, laminitis, feces, colic, or COB (chronic obstructive bronchitis) are therefore not uncommon.


Due to its strong pastern hangings, the Irish Tinker has a tendency to scuffle. This is a bacterial inflammation of the skin that is painful for the horse and can become chronic.

The first signs are scabby skin in the fetlock, crusts, and weeping areas quickly forming.

Mauke itches a lot, which is why the affected horses take turns lifting the affected legs. Mauke is treated with various ointments.

Problem area of ​​the back

The tinker’s sturdy appearance often leads to it being classified as a weight carrier, which it is by no means. Tall and strong people should therefore better distance themselves from the Irish Tinker.

Smaller, pony-type specimens with a height of 135 to 145 cm should not carry more than 50 to 60 kg. Due to the build, the back of the Irish Tinker is short.

Added to this is the high erection and poor ability of this breed to gather. Similar to many draft horses, the back of these horses is not intended for riding, but the entire body is designed for pulling loads.

The back area is often too soft and needs sufficient back muscles to be able to carry a rider undamaged. Developing this is not easy due to the unfavorable physique.

If the back is well trained, the Irish Tinker can easily carry a rider. If the training of the back muscles is neglected, tension and back damage can result.

The life expectancy of the Irish tinker

A healthy Irish tinker has a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years.

As you already know, correct and adjusted posture is important for the Irish Tinker in order to enable him to live a long and healthy life.

Buy Irish Tinker

If you want to get a horse, the Irish Tinker is an extremely popular recreational horse and the market is correspondingly large.

Depending on your size, level of education, age, and state of health, you can buy an Irish Tinker for as little as $2000. For a ridden recreational horse for around 5 to 10 years, you should calculate $3500 to $4500.

As you probably already know, the purchase price of a horse is the smallest investment over the entire life of the horse. You should calculate costs between $500 and $700 per month for your Irish Tinker,

Decision support

The Irish Tinker is the perfect family horse and, with appropriate help, also suitable for beginners. He scores with his intrepid and calm manner and is the perfect companion on long rides, during circus lessons, or in groundwork.

Only the dressage work is not his supreme discipline due to his physique. At first glance, the Irish Tinker looks cozy, but you must never forget that he was a workhorse in his home country.

The Irish Tinker is a hardworking and intelligent horse and wants to be kept busy. He likes to forgive mistakes, but he has to rely on you and be able to trust you.

If you have won the Irish Tinker for yourself, you have a great comrade by your side!

Irish Tinker FAQ

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How old do Irish tinkers get?
Irish tinkers have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years. In exceptional cases or with particularly good care, this age can also be exceeded.

How tall are Irish tinkers?
The horses range in size from 135 to 160 cm.

What do Irish Tinkers eat?
Hay and straw as well as mineral feed are sufficient. Irish tinkers from home are used to not eating much. Therefore, it would be overwhelmed with the German feed and the amount, so that serious problems would arise.