The Versatile Gypsy Horses
They Really Can Do It All!
by Marilyn E. Short, Photos
Sir Winston, Gypsy Horse Stallion, working nicely for
trainer, Pete Lichau
For generations the Gypsies,
the Romani, nomadic people of England and Ireland, have kept a great
secret. They maintained their wandering way of life by traveling
the roads in extremely ornate wagons known as vardos. In order to
make this lifestyle work, they created an extraordinary breed of horse
known to us as GYPSY HORSES. These horses have been
referred to by other names such as Gypsy Cobs, Irish Cobs, Travelers
Horses, and Gypsy Vanners. All are the same breed and GYPSY HORSE
is the correct name. This breed had to have great endurance and
strength to pull the wagons across the countryside and yet have a
completely calm and cooperative temperament as the master could ill
afford damage to his home/wagon. The horses are hearty and easy
keepers as they were forced to subsist on whatever grazing might be
available around the evening’s campsite.
If you were to describe the “perfect horse” it might start with
striking looks. These horses with their LONG flowing manes and
tails and abundant feather from the knee down are showstoppers.
They are typically 14 to 15 hands tall making them a comfortable easy
height. And yet pound for pound you won’t find a stronger
breed. Their looks stop people in their tracks, but it is their
temperament that cannot be duplicated in another breed. They are
naturally calm, gentle, and cooperative. They have great
minds, learn each new discipline quickly and are cooperative and happy
to do whatever is asked.
Although the Gypsy people
primarily drove their horses, this breed has shown their great
versatility by participating in many other disciplines in the
U.S. They are fearless and have great endurance for trail
riding. They will go through water, over bridges, and care for
their rider without hesitation. They love the challenges of ranch
work including cutting, roping, reining, and general cow work.
The Gypsy Horses are amazing show horses excelling in Western Pleasure,
English Pleasure, Obstacle Classes, and are some of the flashiest
halter horses ever seen. As an indication of their versatility,
the California State Champion Barrel Racer in 2008 was a Gypsy
Horse. At the other end of the spectrum, they are amazing
Dressage and jumping horses.
The most prominent and easily recognized look of these horses is black
and white pintos, but they come in a variety of colors. The
louder pinto coloring became popular with the Gypsy people after they
lost their horses to the war effort in World War II. A loudly
colored horse is less desirable in the war thereby diminished the
possibility of them being confiscated.
While most Gypsy people could not read or write, some lines of the
breed and their ancestry were well known and verbally passed down
through generations. The registration of these great horses
begins in the U.S. with the Gypsy Horse Registry of America, Inc. in
Springtown, Texas documenting this heritage through DNA. The
explosive growth of this breed keeps the registry hopping.
And, in 2009 the GHRA Gypsy Horses were invited to participate in the
Fort Worth Stock Show and parade. The aisles were packed with
spectators asking questions and taking pictures.
One of the largest Gypsy Horse breeding ranches is A Wizards Spell
Ranch in Burleson, Texas. Owner, Linda Brown, imported
foundation-breeding stock from select Gypsy breeders in England.
The horses from this ranch were Reserve Grand Champions, both stallion
and mare, at the Fort Worth Stock Show and many offspring from this
breeding program were proudly in the ribbons at that prestigious event
too. In March the horses from this ranch were invited to the
Houston Stock Show Agri Summit to perform and educate their VIP
international visitors. This ranch’s 2009 foal crop produced some
of the finest examples of this breed with nice heads, great
conformation, abundant feather, and calm temperament.
You are invited to meet Linda Brown and learn more about this
incredible breed at the NCHA Summer Spectacular at Will Rogers in Fort
Worth from July 13 to August 2. Ranch visits are welcome by
appointment. For more information, visit www.GypsyHorsesInTexas.com
or call 817-297-9292.