We went to the Fort Worth Stock Show yesterday and enjoyed seeing “Gypsy” horses up close and personal for the first time. Being a city slicker, I knew nothing about these fine horses. They are definitely a “people friendly” breed. We enjoyed interacting with them in their stalls and watching the show in the Justin Arena.
Through selective breeding over more than 100 years Gypsy men and their families in England and Ireland created this breed of horses. Their goal, was to create a unique draft type horse that could pull their caravans in fancy fashion yet was docile enough to be handled by their children and would work all day with small amounts of food and water.
They designed the horse to primarily be half black, and half white. They wanted the horses to have a “WOW” factor so that each family could always have a competition on whose stallion was the finest. The average Gypsy Vanner should stand about 14.3 hands high, and be most any color these days. They should have an arched crown neck, smaller ears that curve inward, a round and correct heavy chest, thick boned legs with feathers that start at the knee in the front and the hock in the back that tent-like cover the hooves. This horse should have a very chiseled and refined head with tapering towards the end of the muzzle, and kind, well set eyes. The Gypsy Vanner, or Gypsy Cobb horse as it is sometimes referred to, should have a short back and a very well rounded hindquarters, and a crease down the center of the hind quarter that is called “Apple Butt” (so they look well in jeans. The breed should also have a very wide and thick tail that is not set too high, and may eventually drag the ground.
Click on image for large view Further research revealed the true origin of the Gypsy Vanner breed. The Shire horse had the greatest influence with the Fells pony, Dales pony, the Clydesdales and the British Spotted pony also contributed to its makeup, with the Highland pony giving rise to its magnificent mane and tail.
The Gypsy and nomadic people popularized the use of the Gypsy Vanner in Europe and gained its popularity in the USA in the mid 90’s. At 14.2 – 15.2 hands, it is considered suitable for riding and all athletic pursuits and is favored in America for breeding purposes.