Gypsy Vanner History
A Breed Living in Secrecy
It happened by accident. Dennis and Cindy Thompson were on a business trip in England when they first encountered a horse like no other they had seen before. This horse had a body much like a Shire, powerfully built, but shorter in stature. Strikingly colorful, he was a black and white piebald, with an abundance of feather, mane and tail, floating about him, as he moved towards them.
Thus began a mission to find out more about this magical horse, where he came from and if there were more like him. They spent several years investigating the horse and the Gypsies who bred him - and there were others, but not out in the general population of gypsy bred horses. The Thompson's discovered that this horse and others like him were selectively bred by the Gypsies, hidden away in fields, far from public view. These horses were routinely moved to new locations, to keep them private and to keep them from being stolen.
Gypsies, Rom, Romany or Travelers as they are also known, are as colorful as the horses that they breed! They are exceptional horsemen and will breed and keep many horses for various purposes. Long ago, when the Gypsy was a traveling population, living in Vardo's (living wagons), they used the colorful horses to pull their wagons. The horses had to be very hardy and easy to keep, as more often than not they were tethered on the side of the roads or in fields, to eat whatever forage they could find and they had to live without shelter through the cold England winters. And when the days work was done, the beautiful horse had to be gentle and docile enough to teach the Gypsy children how to ride. Horses that exhibited aggression or ill temper were immediately banished from the family. Gypsies also kept trade horses, sometimes selling them for slaughter to be used for food consumption and of course they were used for various type of transportation purposes.
The horses that are selectively bred and raised by the Gypsies have a different purpose entirely. They are the horses that will be hidden away from prying eyes and taken out on very special occasions to impress the lads! Gypsies do not live in vardo's any longer, but they continue to raise selectively bred horses for showing, driving events, horse fairs, and to provide a good source of income from their sales. Now, as in the traveling days, the selectively bred Gypsy horse is a source of great pride among the Romany Gypsy.
Horses raised by Gypsies are known by many names, gypsy horse, cob, colored horse, or tinkers, are just a few of them. Until recently, the selectively bred Gypsy horse did not have a name to distinguish them from the general population of horses raised by Gypsies. They of course were not a registered breed and while the breeding of these magical horses was careful and deliberate; the detailed history of the breed bloodlines, was kept in the collective memory of the families who bred them for many generations.
The Horse To Become Known As The Gypsy Vanner Horse
Dennis Thompson and his late wife, Cindy, changed the destiny of the selectively bred gypsy horse when they introduced them to the American public, they also established the first registry to give the horses a name and an organization to track the closely guarded, original bloodlines, of the Romany Gypsy breeders. The name of the Registry, Gypsy Vanner Horse Society, was carefully selected not only to identify the people that created this magical breed, but to acknowledge the horse's history as well. The Gypsy Vanner Horse must possess a certain look and meet a clear conformation standard, ensuring that we may reproduce the same quality horse that the first Romany Gypsy breeders dreamed of.
The sheer beauty of the Gypsy Vanner Horse will captivate both young and old alike. Bred from a combination of feathered draft and pony breeds, they range in size from 13 hands to 16 hands. They are very sturdy horses with heavy bone, flat knee and a short back. They come in a variety of colors, the most common is piebald (black/white), and a wide variety of solid colors. All colors are highly prized! Gypsy Vanner's have an abundance of mane, tail and feather. The feather should begin at the knee/hock and fully cover the hooves. Manes and tails are long, thick and flowing. The Gypsy Vanner is truly magic in motion, appearing to float as they move.
The Gypsy Vanner Horse is still quite rare in the United States, but the numbers are increasing quickly each year due to their extreme popularity. Traditionally used for Driving, they also excel at Dressage, Hunter-Jumper and both English and Western riding.
Enchanting, incredibly versatile and with a temperament that is unequaled, they will quickly become your dream of the perfect horse.