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Date:4/21/2014 9:32:32 AM
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HISTORY OF THE GYPSY VANNER

What were the reasons for breeding a small draft horse such as the Gypsy Horse? One such reason, to have a horse showy enough to complement the brightly colored wagons driven by the Gypsy breeders, was given above. But the Gypsy Horse was not just for show; he performed a vital function—pulling his family’s wagon. For this type of work, a heavy draught horse such as the Shire, which typically stands between 16.2 and 17.2 hands and weighs between 2,240 and 2,688 lbs, was overkill. Even the smaller Clydesdale was too much horse for this task. An even smaller draft horse such as the Gypsy Horse was capable of performing the work needed and required only a fraction of the feed needed to maintain the massive Shire. This need to create a draft horse capable of performing the relatively light work of pulling a wagon and needing minimal feed was the primary reason for the creation of the horse we call the Gypsy Horse.
While the Gypsy Horse was bred for the road, the nomadic life of the road further shaped him, both physically and mentally. By necessity, he was hardy, thriving on uncertain forage found at campsites as the Gypsy caravans traveled from place to place. These campsites most likely provided no shelter for the horses; his profuse mane, tail, and feathers provided protection from the cold and wet. He was an integral part of his family and so had to be tolerant and kind. He had to able to be handled and managed even by the family’s children. Any horse which behaved aggressively was immediately banished.
The American discoverers of the breed were Dennis and Cindy Thompson. While driving through the English countryside in 1994, they glimpsed an extravagantly feathered black and white stallion and stopped to inquire about him. Two years later, they imported the first two Gypsy Horse mares, and founded the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society, one of the breed's registries. Other registries include the Gypsy Horse Association, the Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse Association, and the Gypsy Cob Society of America. The Thompsons coined the name “Vanner” for this imported breed, and intended the name to refer not to all Gypsy-bred horses, but only to those which they felt embodied the vision of the breed’s originators, whom they sought to honor. Some lovers of this breed choose not to use the name “Vanner”, but rather prefer to use one of the other accepted names for the breed, Gypsy Cob or Gypsy Horse.

Question of the day: If you could change one thing about your horse, what would it be?

Have a great weekend!
Maria, Dakota N the girls
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