When you were a child, did you imagine yourself riding atop a magnificent steed with flowing mane and tale, dancing gate and a personality so sweet you could eat them for desert? Well perhaps unknown to you, you were thinking of the Gypsy Vanner Horse!
The Gypsy Vanner, also known as an Irish Cob, or an Irish Tinker Horse, has been in Ireland for many years. How old the breed really is, no one knows for sure, because the Gypsy Vanner was born in a veil of mystery. Prior to the breed being officially recognized in the late 20th century, the Gypsy people liked to keep their bloodlines secret. Kind of like a really good recipe! But now it is an official breed recognized in North America as well.
It is difficult to pass by a Gypsy horse and not stop and stare. They are beauty and grace gift wrapped for you in a compact equine body. They are on the smallish side, the average horse stands between 14 and 15 hands. They are referred to a Classic Gypsies. Those smaller are called Mini Gypsies, and the big ones are called, "Grand Gypsies." While on the smaller size in height, they are not slight. Gypsy horses are solidly built, as they are light draft horses.
Gypsy Vanners catch the eye, because of their striking markings, manes, tails and feathering. They can be any colour, but often they are piebald or skewbald. Their crowning glory is definitely all their hair that takes the form of a luxurious mane and tail, so thick, wavy and silky that many a woman would weep with jealousy. And each leg is heavily feathered. When I look at images of them, I want to put bells on every lock of their hair and listen to them prance across the pasture.
But they are not only beautiful. They have personality in spades. Gypsies (the human kind), wanted a graceful horse that would pull their caravans with endurance, and to be safe for children to play around. Gypsy Vanners make a great family horse. They have lots of spunk, and yet they are extremely gentle. Some have called them "Golden Retrievers on Hooves". I'm assuming they are referring to the horses' temperament and not their retrieving ability!
Not surprisingly the breed is gaining recognition in North America as the breed proves its' talent in a wide variety of disciplines, including dressage. There are many breeders, clubs and shows both in Canada and the USA. If you live anywhere near Palgrave ON, then perhaps you'd like to take in the annual Vanner Fair which takes place in September. Perhaps a nice vacation spot?