Gypsy Vanner Mare and Her Foal
King Richard - Gypsy Vanner Piebald Horse
Gypsy Vanner HorsesThe Gypsy Vanner Horse, as it is know in America, is the culmination of over a century of breeding by the Romany Gypsies of Britain. There is evidence that these nomadic people began selectively crossbreeding Shire, Friesian, Clydesdale, Fells and Dales Ponies in England and Ireland during the mid 1800`s to create their ideal horse. It was during the last half of the 20th Century that they began refining the breed that we have today. Vanners, or Gypsy Horses as they are sometimes called, are distinguished by their long flowing manes and tails, feathering that drapes the hooves, arched neck, short back and powerful chest and hindquarters. They are one of the most beautiful, intelligent, powerful, gentle and docile horses on earth with a special affinity to children. That is why they are sometimes referred to as `magic horses`.
The dream of the Gypsies was to have a horse that could pull their wagons or `Vardos` through the hills of England and Ireland. The horse had to be strong and athletic so they could manage the heavy vardos with the worldly possessions of the Gypsy family. They had to be hardy and have the ability to stay healthy eating whatever grass they could find along the roads and fields as they traveled and to sustain themselves on small rations of water. They were also required to live without shelter in the harsh British Isle winters. When the days work was done they had to be gentle and docile enough to teach Gypsy children how to ride. Last but not least, they had to be beautiful. Being a nomadic people with few possessions, it was very important to ride in a vardo pulled by a beautiful Gypsy Vanner. As the Gypsy Vanner breed developed it became a symbol of status and a source of great pride among the Gypsies.
While breeding the horses was done in a highly selective manner, the detailed history of the breed bloodlines was never written but kept in the collective memory of the families who bred them. For this reason the Gypsy Vanner was not a registered breed until it began to draw interest from outside of the `Gypsy Nation`. In recent years three registries have been established. Today`s top breeders, such as GypsyMVP, belong to The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. A Gypsy Vanner must possess a certain look and meet seven basic standards of conformation to be registered with the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. This ensures the same quality horse will be bred to the ancient Romany Gypsy dream.
The sheer beauty of a Gypsy Vanner, particulary one descended from GypsyMVP breeding stock, will catch the eye of even the most casual observer. The draft horse traits combined with the pony breeds yield a horse between 14 and 15 hands. The most common color is black/white with an occasional solid but they also come in bay/white, red/white and tri-coloured.
Years of selective breeding has produced a horse that is gentle and extremely social and eager to please. Traditionally used for driving they also excel at western and English riding, dressage and as hunter jumpers. The Gypsy Vanner Horse is, in short, a beautiful, gentle and intelligent horse capable of learning any discipline with the disposition to serve as the horse of choice for any horse lover, young or old.