Gypsy Vanners History
this content was taken from Arcadian Stables website
The Gypsy Horse is known by many as a Gypsy Vanner. Other names are Gypsy Cob, Tinker or Irish Cob. The term 'vanner' has been used for many generations in the UK and Europe to refer to a horse good in harness. The term 'cob' in some countries refers to a size of horse whilst in others it refers to a type of horse: a stout, short-legged riding-horse.
To get a good idea of the horses that fit into this collective group one might go to Appleby Fair or Stowe Fair in England. If in Ireland go to Cahirmee Fair or any one of the bustling fairs or "drives" that the Travellers or Gypsy Folk take their horses to be sold at. There one would find an amazing selection of coloured or solid horses with plenty of feather, long, flowing mane and tail, good bone, calm temperament, all attributes found in these versatile, compact, powerful horses. Gypsy Vanners have been selectively bred over the last 50 years - bred to pull the travellers' vardos or caravans and were required to be an all rounder, able to be ridden and handled by all members of the family. There would also be a fine selection of "Roadracers" at the fairs; high action trotters with little to no feather - these are often seen setting pace up and down the roads. It is not uncommon for a horse to change hands more than a few times at a fair and several times is not unheard of as the fairs themselves can run over a number of days.
Thirty years ago the horses at the fairs and bred by the Travellers were slightly different in appearance - they were not as "hairy" as they are today, nor as solid. The long mane and tail, good bone and abundant feather are all attributes from Shire, Clydesdale, Dales, Fell and Friesian breeding. The larger horses are put to smaller coldblodd horses to be bred up or down, depending on the desired effect in mind. The Gypsy Vanner has essentially the look of a "Mini Shire", with a coloured or solid coat. In Shires a coloured coat is not permissible.
The Gypsy Vanners you see today are the result of years of selective crossbreeding to achieve a certain horse to fill a particular role, need and look. Even today this crossbreeding is still be carried out to produce the qualities strived for in the horses on sale at the fairs and by reputable breeders to produce these magnificent horses. The key to this selective breeding is knowing what will result from the different combinations and having an "eye" for quality is essential.
A hundred years ago people collected horses from the hills of U.K. to trade and sell. The army were the biggest buyers of these horses and the army never bought piebalds or skewbalds as they were obvious targets in battle. The Travellers on the other hand had a use for these flashy horses, they complimented their colourful intricately carved vardos and their visibility on the road was an advantage. Today the coloured, piebald or skewbald horses are very desirable, often commanding and fetching the steepest prices on the market.
The Gypsy Vanner is a coldblooded horse and carries all the attributes associate with such horses. "Coldbloods" are horses that have originated from cool climates such as the United Kingdom or Europe. At the other end of the spectrum is a "hotblood", with a "warmblood" being the combination of both hot and cold in varying percentages. Many a coldblood have a Roman Nose, some attribute this to evolving in extreme conditions as this curved shape nose gave the horses an ability to slightly heat the icy air before it passed into the lungs. So a slightly roman nose is acceptable with the Gypsy Vanner. You will only find abundant feather in coldbloods. Feather is the hair around the horses hoof and the toe feather is referred to as a "spat". Do not expect to get feather if you put a coldblood to a warmblood as the feather will be lost to the warmblood mix. Coldbloods cannot eat a "heating" diet, to do so can be dangerous for the horse!
Centuries ago horse breeds evolved naturally. Influenced by the environment, they exhibited certain similarities of conformation, coat colour, height and general appearance. In the modern context a breed relies on the existence of a stud book, which records and registers pedigree. Horses registered in this way have been bred selectively over sufficient time to ensure clearly defined, consistent characteristics with regards to conformation, size and say, colour. There are only a few stud books in existence that are more than 100 years old.
It is only over the last several years that Societies with breed standards have emerged to recognize these highly desirable and valuable horses. The Gypsy Vanner is a new breed and given sufficient time we will be able to refer to these horses as pure. Some people will say they have a "pure" horse - the term pure should only be in reference to a horse's stud book pedigree. It should not be used as a personal judgement with the intention of devaluing another's quality horse.
The best analogy to explain this new breed evolving is to look at the history of the Shire Horse. In the 1890's in England there were a large number of horses all with a distinctive look but without a common name. The Shire Horse Society U.K. formed at the end of the 1800's after the closure of the Cart Horse Society in 1878. The Shire Horse we know today is the result of the horses of this period that met the breed standards being registered with the Society.
Horses were deregistered if found not to meet breed standards, in order to eliminate horses with physical and mental unsoundness. The Shire Horse Society allows for "breeding up" by putting a Shire Stallion to a Shire type or registered Clydesdale mare so that one is able to breed a pure filly foal true to the Shire Horse breed standards. There is a saying: "For every good Shire there is Clydesdale and for every good Clydesdale there is Shire". Today's modern Shire is a leggier horse with finer, silkier feather than decades ago - evidence of the Clydesdale contribution.
One only has to read the various breed standards from various Societies and Associations around the world for the Gypsy Horse to see the Standards all aim for similar ideals. Today's modern world is a far cry from the 1890's with the internet, advanced technology in AI, horses being speedily transported by air and across continents. One might imagine that the Shire Horse, in the same situation as the Gypsy Horse is today, would also be known under different names in various countries - such are modern times!
The Gypsy Vanner & Cob Society Inc. was the first Society founded in Australia to promote and establish this exciting new Breed in the country. The Society Stud Book has been ever growing since early 2005 and includes quality imported lines and the finest Australian born Gypsy Vanners on it's Registry.
Gypsy Vanner Horse®
The breed standard has been copyed directly from the GVHS website
The Gypsy Vanner is a “people sized” draft horse with heavy bone and broad body, but on a smaller scale then the large draft breeds.
#1 Color: The Gypsy Vanner Horse® is not a color breed it is a body type, therefore all colors, markings and patterns
are acceptable. In honor of the British Gypsy heritage of the breed, the following names will be used to
describe a Gypsy Vanner horses color.
A. Piebald: Black & White
B. Skewbald: Red & White, Brown & White, Tri-Color
C. Odd Coloured: Any other color
D. Blagdon: Solid color with white splashed up from underneath
#2 Height: No height limits, all sizes have the same standards, all equally acceptable.
#3 Body:The Vanner has the look of a small to average size horse with a draft horse type body.
A. Back: Short coupled and in proportion to overall body
B. Withers: Well rounded, not high and fine
C. Chest: A deep, broad chest with well sprung ribs.
D. Shoulder: Sloping shoulder with well developed muscle
E. Hindquarters: Heavy, powerful hips with a well muscled rounded croup, tail not set too low.
Slab sided or severely sloping hindquarters are considered a fault.
F. Neck: Strong and of ample length, stallions must display a bold look with a rainbow (well arched) crest.
#4 Legs: Clean, heavy to medium heavy bone set on medium to large hoof .
A. Front: Set square, muscular with broad flat well developed knees.
B. Rear: Hocks that are broad and clean, a Vanner will have the modified closer hock set of a
pulling horse, but not as close as the modern draft horse. Set back or sickle hocks are a fault.
. C. Hoof : large round hoof , open at the heels with well developed frogs.
Small contracted hooves are considered a fault
D. Leg movement: Clean, straight and true with energy and a distinctive and effortless trot.
#5 Hair: Ideal hair is straight and silky, with some wave, curl and body being acceptable, kinky hair is a fault.
A. Abundant feathering should begin at the back of the knees on the front legs and at or near the hocks on the rear, extending over the front of the hooves.
B. Mane, forelock and tail should be ample to profusely abundant, double manes are common but not required.
#6 Head: A sweet head is a more refined head than a typical shire might have, set on a strong neck in harmony with
the horses overall look.
A. Throat and jaw: Clean throat-latch and jaw.
B. Nose: Flat and tapered, a slightly roman nose is acceptable if it goes with the horses over all look. A
heavy roman nose is not acceptable.
C. Eyes: Any color, wide set, bright, alert and kind.
D. Ears: In proportion to the head, not too large.
#7 Nature: A Vanner should be alert and willing with traits of intelligence, kindness and docility, a Golden Retriever
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