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This page has been put together to help people new to the Gypsy Vanner Horse learn more about this fascinating breed. We do not claim to be experts on these subjects yet, so much of it has been gathered from fellow breeders and other sources of Gypsy information. If you find errors or think that we need to include additional material, please contact us.
Big Sky Gypsy & Drum Horses is a small family farm located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains of Montana. We have raised and ridden saddle horses all of our lives. Riding in the mountains surrounding our home and outfitting in the beautiful Bob Marshall Wilderness we have come to value sound, sane, people oriented horses. We began our journey with the Gypsy Vanner Horses when we purchased our first mare Skye. She was a stunning young black Clydesdale mare with tons of hair, beautiful, white, feathered feet, and an incredible disposition. While looking for a stallion to breed her to, we discovered the Gypsy Vanners and realized that they were exactly the type horse that we wanted to become involved with. Soon after, we began our search for a breeding stallion and the rest is history…
Why The Gypsy Horse?
I am often asked "Why a Gypsy Horse?" or "What drew you to this breed?" That is an interesting question, and one that individual Gypsy owners will answer differently. However, for me, even as a young girl I knew that someday I would own draft horses.
What Is a Gypsy Horse?
Information Compliments of Black Forest Gypsy Horses
What Is a Drum Horse?
“Actually named after a “job” performed by the horse, The Drum Horse is an indispensable part of the Band of the Life Guards. These horses carried two large solid silver kettle Drums, plus a fully outfitted rider, through crowds of thousands, during the Queen’s processions! The extraordinary part was that these horses were controlled entirely by reins attached to the rider’s feet, as they had to use their hands to beat on the drums. The Calvary Drum Horse is one of the most popular and recognizable members of the regiment. Nearly always piebald or skewbald in color, although it is also common to see solids, they stand at least 16 hands.
Drum Horses must be strong and steady enough to carry the stout kettle drums during ceremonies. It takes a very special horse to carry such a prominent role in the Queen's Household Cavalry." Information compliments of Old Mill Farms
Today the Drum Horse is achieving breed status in the United States. A registry has been formed and the criteria for breeding Drum Horses has been established. For registry in the United States, a Drum Horse must be a cross between a Gypsy Cob and a Clydesdale, Shire, or Friesian.
All About Hair
One of the most obvious characteristics of the Gypsy Vanner is it's amazing hair!!! Thick full manes and tails that drag the ground are the hallmark of a quality Gypsy Vanner. In order to command the admiration of fellow Gypsy breeders an man's stock must possess and pass on the luxurious hair.
Another unique characteristic of the Gypsy Vanner is the facial hair. The horses that are really heavy in hair will also often have a beard of long hairs under the jaw, and sometimes even a moustache.
Feathering is an inherited trait passed down and enhanced through generations of careful breeding. The amount and quality of feather separates the superior Gypsy Vanner from the average one.
To qualify as a "feathered" breed a horse must have ground-length hair completely around the hoof. However, by Gypsy standards this is not adequate. A superior Gypsy Vanner will have full, thick hair that starts behind the knee or hock and continues to the ground. Often the feather will also grow down the front of the leg as well. The hair of the feather should be fine, straight, and silky not coarse and kinky. A horse that lacks this thick feathering will not be kept for breeding by the Gypsies, but will be sold.
At times the Gypsy Vanners will lose the bottom edges of their feather in a condition referred to as being "bog burned." This occurs during the wet season when the mud accumulates on the feather and the weight actually breaks the hair off. You can tell a bog burned horse from a poorly feathered one by observing the obvious line of breakage above which the hair is still full. This condition is not unusual in the UK and most horses grow their feather back in a couple of months.
A poorly feathered horse will have thin, wispy feather on the leg which will barely cover the hoof. A horse with this type of feather should be avoided at all cost!
Gypsy X Non-feathered Drafts
Percherons and Belgians are known for their strength, large size, and calm manner. When you cross a homozygous Gypsy stallion with a non-feathered draft breed such as these, you would produce a draft horse with pinto coloring. The Gypsy / draft cross would be slightly smaller and more refined, with a thicker mane and tail, and some light feathering. And of course you would get the prized Gypsy Horse coloring. This cross would accentuate all the wonderful draft horse qualities and capture it in a slightly smaller package. Perfect for driving, parade, or pleasure.
Gypsy X Friesian
The Friesian breed is prized for its elegant stature, floating movement, and abundance of hair. When crossed with a homozygous Gypsy stallion you could expect an amazing, forward moving colored athlete. This cross would preserve all the size and self-carriage of the Friesian and wrap it in a flashy colored coat. A Friesian / Gypsy cross would have TONS of mane and tail and would also have an abundance of feather. This cross would have boundless potential, and could excel in dressage, driving, and English pleasure to name a few.
Gypsy X Warmblood
The Warmblood horses are outstanding in the jumping and dressage arena. They possess the calm nature, heavy bone, and size of their draft ancestors. They are strong and athletic, capable of the rigors of heavy jumping and competition. When crossed with a homozygous Gypsy stallion you would produce a colored sporthorse. You would be maintaining all the bone and substance and then topping it off with the eye-appealing color and flash of the Gypsy. A foal of this cross would be a show-stopping athlete.
Gypsy X Thoroughbred
The Thoroughbreds are noted for their heart and stamina, their clean, fine bone, as well as their lofty, floating gait and jumping ability. When you cross a Thoroughbred with a homozygous Gypsy stallion you will produce a colored sporthorse. The Gypsy Horse influence contributes heavier bone and thicker muscling to the lighter frame of the Thoroughbred. In addition, the Gypsy influence helps provide a calmer, more tractable disposition in a breed known to be high-strung and nervous. Foals of this cross can be expected to excel in dressage, jumping, eventing, and driving.
Gypsy X Arabian or Morgan
The Arabians and Morgans have long been popular for their fire and spirit, animated gait, and endurance. Combine this refinement and personality with the homozygous Gypsy and you would have an amazing colored athlete. The resulting foal would be a more substantial horse having more bone and muscling, but would carry itself with the proud air of its light horse parent. It would have superior stamina combined with a more tractable disposition. Plus, it would have the flashy Gypsy coloring, an abundance of mane and tail, and some light feathering. This cross would make an awesome, up-headed carriage horse that could excel in combined driving.
Gypsy X Stock Horse Breeds
Stock Horse breeds, such Quarter Horses, are valued for their intelligence, strength, agility, speed, and versatility. A Quarter Horse crossed with a homozygous Gypsy stallion would create a stocky, colored light draft horse. This animal would be smaller in stature than the larger draft breeds, but would retain much of the draft qualities such as heavier bone and muscle. This cross would be intelligent and tractable, with better stamina and a pleasant disposition. Foals of this cross would be perfect for smaller driving teams. They would be flashy enough for use in parades or a carriage business, yet solid and dependable enough for use on the farm.
Fullblood Gypsy Horses can be registered in three registries . Each registry has slightly different criteria for their horses. The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society is a registry for selectively bred fullblood stock only. The Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse Association offers registration for fullblood Gypsies and several categories for Drum Horses. The Gypsy Cob Society has categories for fullblood and crossbred Gypsy horses.
The American Drum Horse Association is a newly formed registry that is soley devoted to registering Drum Horses.
In addition to the above registries, Gypsy crosses can also often be registered in the part-blood registry of the non-Gypsy parent. For example:
Back to Topics
|American Part Blood Registry
http://www.apbhorseregistry.com Half Arabian Horse Registry
http://www.arabianhorses.org/registration.asp Half Quarter Horse Registry
American Sporthorse Association