Gypsy Vanners - The Breed That Gleams In The Sun

Posted by Lynnsy Johnson - Saddle Up on Sep 26th 2019

There's an old Gypsy saying that goes, "Gypsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark." This quote is very fitting for Gypsy Vanner Horses. This breed has a magical backstory and they are quickly becoming very sought after horses.

Gypsy Vanners were developed by Gypsies out of Great Britain and Ireland. Before World War II, there was a demand for horses to pull carts and caravans. The European Gypsies crossed a few different breeds and the end product was a perfect match to pull the caravans. Although these horses haven't been in the United States for very long, Gypsies have bred them for the past 50 years in other countries. Two specific sires, Sonny Mays and The Coal Horse, were two of the very first stallions to start reproducing Gypsy Vanners. They produced beautiful offspring and it's been said they started the foundation of this breed.

The goal was to create a horse that mimicked a Shire with more color, feathering on the feet, smaller, and a sweeter head. The Gypsy Vanner is crossed with a Shire, Clydesdale, Dales Pony, and a Friesian to obtain all of these features. In Europe, these horses were becoming very popular and many people started breeding/raising them. The first Americans to discover this majestic animal were Dennis and Cindy Thompson, who were on a business trip to Great Britain. They came across a black and white Gypsy Vanner Stallion and fell in love. They ended up purchasing the stallion and introduced the breed to the United States. They imported the first 16 Gypsy Vanner Horses into America and named the breed in 1996.They wanted to keep the Gypsy history with this breed so they put a lot of thought into the name. Gypsy means European Travelers and Vanner means suitable to pull a caravan. It's simple but holds all the meaning and history with it. The Thompson's founded the Gypsy Vanner Society and still have it going today. 

These horses were made to work, but they are extremely beautiful also. They have a thick long mane and tail with feathering on their legs. They have a heavy body build, broad chest, and short back. Gypsy Vanners are also known to have a friendly and calm temperament. You can find them in just about any color, but there are breed standard colors.

* Piebald - Black and White 

* Skewbald - Red or Brown and White 

* Blagdon - Any color, but with a splash of White 

* Odd Color - Any other 

Although they are crossed with very big horses, Gypsy Vanners, on average, are 14.2 hands. Some people say, "They are people sized draft horses" because of their heavier build and smaller size. Since coming to America, people have used Gypsy Vanners for a little bit of everything. Most commonly, you will see them in pleasure, dressage, hunt seat, driving classes, and western riding. They have become wildly popular and have the reputation of being very easy to train and also smart and willing. The only downfall with this breed seems to be the price tag. These horses are very expensive to purchase or even breed. In Europe, Gypsy Vanners are much more affordable, but why? It is because these horses are a status symbol for European Gypsies so they are more expensive in the United States. 

It's amazing to go back in time and see how involved horses were. So many years ago, a hefty horse was needed to pull a cart. With cross breeding and a little gypsy magic, the Gypsy Vanner was created. They sure left their hoof prints all over history. 

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