The History of The Gypsy Horse
Over half a century ago, a vision was born to create a very special horse. A magical, almost mythical, colorful, compact, small Draft horse. A horse powerful enough to pull the decorative caravans the Gypsy calls home, yet gentle and trustworthy for the keeping of their children and worldly possessions. The selective breeding of a few dedicated Gypsies has produced what is now known as the elite Gypsy Horse. The horse breeds utilized for the foundation of this breed, Clydesdale, Shire, Friesian and Dales Pony each have imparted some traits and characteristics individual to their heritage. All of them combined have contributed to the long flowing hair characteristics that the Gypsy Horse will be remembered by. A true Gypsy Horse will have feathers emanating from the knees in the front and just below the hocks in the rear, long flowing manes, forelocks, and tails that will drag on the ground.
In November 1996, Dennis and Cindy Thompson of Ocala, Florida, imported the first Gypsy Horses to North America and established the first documented breed standards as well as the formal breed registry. This registry was conceived to protect the gypsy vision for the breed.
THE GYPSY HORSE BREED DESCRIPTION
The following 7 points of confirmation are required to be met as well as DNA testing of all individuals applying for registry in North America:
1. Short Back in proportion to overall body (short distance between last rib to point of hip)
2. Broad Chest
3. Heavy well-rounded hips (slab sided or severely sloping hindquarters are considered a fault)
4. Heavy flat bone at the knee, ample hooves (small contracted hooves are considered a fault)
5. Feathering that begins at the knees or near the hocks extending over the front of the hooves. Ample to abundant mane and tail
6. Sweet Head (fine head on a strong neck in harmony with the horses overall look)
7. Disposition (the horse should exhibit traits of intelligence, kindness and docility – over aggressive behavior is considered a fault)
The Gypsy horse can range in size from 12.2 hh to 16 hh. The majority of Gypsy Horses in North America average approx. 14hh. Those Gypsy Horses that are 14-15hh very often are inclined to be more athletic and often seen competing in various disciplines.
The short neck and back give the animal the power to pull the colorful gypsy caravans. An abundance of mane, tail and feather give this animal a magical look, true to it’s heritage. Piebald (black and white) and Skewbald (brown and white) are the most common. However, all colors are prized. It is a belief of the gypsies that a Gypsy horse with more white (considered “Fancy”) is more valuable.
Heavy bone, flat knees and ample hooves give this magnificent animal the foundation to sustain a body that includes a broad chest and heavy hips. The withers are rounded making the horse very suitable for harness and the bareback riding style of the Gypsy children.
The Gypsy Horse developed from a combination of the Friesian, Shire, Clydesdale and Dales Pony; all which have the wonderful personality of the cold-blooded draft horse.
The Gypsy lifestyle cannot tolerate animals that might endanger lives. Any horse displaying ill temper is banished immediately. The result of this culling has led to the Gypsy Horse being one of the most docile horses in the world. The intelligence and kindness that the Gypsy Horse exhibits must be experienced to be believed. A sound horse that is easily kept is essential for a lifestyle of travel. The Gypsy Horse by nature of it’s evolvement is extremely sound and easy to maintain. In addition, with the nomadic nature of the Gypsy peoples, their horses had to be adaptable to varying climates, terrains and living conditions. This is what has led to some of the wonderful traits imparted to the elite, performance driven Gypsy Horse.