It is said that the Gypsy Vanner Horse first reached American soil from Europe in the 1990s and are still a rare breed here. Currently there are over 1500 Gypsy Horses registered in the United States. The Gypsy Vanner Horse are known by several different names.
Originally, when some of the first Gypsy Vanner Horses were imported from Europe to America, we started recognizing the breed as “Gypsy Vanner”. In recent years, and after lots of conversations with the Romany breeders in the UK of this fine horse a lot of names for the breed over in Europe started surfacing from the past and present.
These unique horses were called several different names depending on the location in Europe they were bred. For example, France, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and England just a few that comes to mind. Below is a list of breed names that the horses were noted for with the last one mentioned to me by a wonderful lady I met at the Indiana Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse Heartland Feathered Classic horse show in 2008. She is from Holland and interestingly, she told me that when she was a child that they called the Gypsy Vanners “Play Ponies”.
• Gypsy Vanner
• Irish Tinker
• Gypsy Cob
• Irish Cob
• Romany Horse
• Colored Horse
• Play Ponies
What ever name the breed has been known in the past or what you would like to call the breed today, there is no mistaking their breathtaking beauty, exceptional athletic ability, kind, willing and gentle nature and the way they enjoy pleasing and being with their owners.
It is not unusual when Queenie and I go out for a ride, there are always people stopping and staring at her beauty, asking questions and they give her a sweet pet on the face. She always has a crowd of admirers surrounding her. What a nice opportunity to meet people. We always manage to speak to them and educate them about the breed of horse that I chose to breed for.
These horses are a “Gift” to horse enthusiasts around the world that the Romany people have created through selective breeding.
The Gypsy Vanners have been bred over the past 100 years or better by the Romany people or “Gypsy” people. They bred them to pull their colorful carts, drays and Vardos safely through the countryside of Europe. This was their only means of transportation and their Vardo was their home. It contained all of their possessions that they owned.
The Romany bred a nice strong sturdy horse that would not only be a horse to pull their home from place to place as they traveled, but they bred the horse for a companion to themselves and their families. This horse could not be ill or vicious tempered, it would not be tolerated and would be banished by that particular group of travelers. The Romanies would not breed to a horse with that kind of temperament for fear that it’s trait could trickle down into the bloodlines.
The Romany people wanted to breed for a horse that would fit the needs and culture of their families, including the children, and they met their goal with the Gypsy Vanner. In my opinion the Romanies managed to breed one of the best family horses in history. It has been seen, noted and said that these horses are so docile children can play around them and crawl around the horses.
Additionally, the Romany breeders bred for a horse that was an easy keeper. The Romany way of life was one of constant traveling and their horses had to eat and drink whenever their caravans stopped to rest or camp.
Through their careful breeding practices over many generations the Romany breeders have achieved distinctive features that characterize today’s modern Gypsy Vanner. It has been said that they started with the draft horse breeds that we know today as “gentle giants” such as the Shire, Clydesdale and bred them to the common work ponies that pulled steel in the mines in Europe, known as the Fell Pony and Dale Pony.
Most of the traits are listed below:
Color – Piebald, Black and White Tobiano, Skewbald (combinations of brown, red and white including tri-colored), Tobiano Blagdon* (solid color with white splashed up from underneath). All other colors not mentioned can be included in the portfolio of a Gypsy Vanner Horse.
Feathers and Mane and Tail – Usually grown in abundance. Typically are long straight and silky. Some are wavy and or curly. The abundance of feathering starts from the knee and hock then extends down and over the hooves. Other features of hair can be present such as a beard, whiskers etc.
Height – Most stand between 13.2 hand and go up to 15.2.
Head – sweet head, pint size or pony sized head.
Rump – A nicely shaped large “Apple” rump.
Temperament – Extremely gentle, laid back with a kind and willing attitude to do what is asked.
It is our mission as breeders, to preserve the Gypsy Vanners by producing the breed the Romanies worked hard to attain by careful and considerate selection of the right stallions to breed to our mares.
Lastly, it is our job to promote our breed that we so dearly love by educating the public through whatever meetings that are possible such as Horse Shows, Trail Riding, Equine Affairs, Formal Meetings, Parades and more.
You are more than welcome to visit us, our farm, and meet our horses, please do call us to schedule an appointment and we will be happy to have you as our guest.