Gypsy vanner horse breed

Gypsy Horse Breed Gypsy Vanner

Gypsy Horse Breed – The Gypsy Vanner

The Gypsy horse, or the Gypsy Vanner, is a breed of horse that hails from Great Britain and Ireland. They are recognizable for their white splashes and were bred and used by the Irish Travelers as well as the English Romanichal Travelers.

This is what gave the breed their name! Gypsy Vanners were often— and still are— used to pull the traditional vardos, or wagons, of the Romani subgroup in the English Isles.

This is a fairly newer breed, especially when compared to some other breeds of horses that have been around for centuries. We will go over the Gypsy Vanner horse in more detail below, including its characteristics and history. 

Gypsy Vanner Characteristics

When it comes to the defining characteristics of a Gypsy Vanner horse, they are most often piebald or skewbald colored. In addition, they have the conformation of a cob. The Gypsy Vanner is also called the Irish Cob, and are classified as being small draught horses because of their strong hindquarters. Gypsy horses have a flowing mane and tail and feathered legs, as well as having a general appearance of a heavy, powerful horse. The head of a Gypsy Vanner is sweet, which means it is without coarseness in proportion and fits the overall balance of the horse. Their bite should also be even. 

Gypsy Vanner Size

The Gypsy Vanner breed stands at a height of between 13 and 15.2 hands high. However, these rules are not very strict, as the Gypsy Horse Association will accept heights outside of the aforementioned range, meaning that horses both smaller and larger may be accepted. When compared to other breeds of horse, the Gypsy Vanner height is considered to be average.

Among draft horses, this breed is considered to be small, especially when you take into account that the Shire horse can stand up to 18 hands in height! The Irish Cob, or Gypsy Vanner, is a horse characterized by a sturdy, broad, and compact body. They have dense bones and deep, powerful chests. The chest of the horse should show off ample muscles. 

Gypsy Vanner Weight

Weight is not restricted by the Gypsy Horse Association for registrations. However, the breed does have an average weight, of course, and that average is between 1100 and 1700 pounds.

There are many registries across the globe for the Gypsy Vanner breed, and all accept different heights— this means that there is also a big weight range for Gypsy Vanner horses, as height and weight are proportionately linked in horses.

This is a breed that has dense bones, too, which therefore makes them heavier than the average light horse breed. The strong muscles and conformation of the Gypsy Vanner makes the breed heavy cob-type horses.  

Gypsy vanner horse breed

Gypsy Vanner Colors

Like with weight, the Gypsy Horse Association is not picky with colors, either. They accept all colors and markings of the Gypsy Vanner breed. There is even an old saying in the breed standard that is often mentioned by the registry.

It goes as follows: “A good horse never comes in a bad color”. Thus, the Gypsy Vanner is not a color breed, as some other breeds of horses are. They can be diverse in color, though there are some colorations or patterns that occur more often.

These most common colorations are piebald and skewbald. Both of these are characterized by white patches on dark coats, which is typical of Gypsy Vanners. Rarer colors that you may see the breed appear in are champagne, cremello, and palomino. They may be solid, tobiano, or splash-in patterns. 

Gypsy Vanner Temperament 

The Gypsy Vanner is a breed beloved for its temperament, too, and not just its many colors. They are well known for being kind and tolerant, as well as patient and intelligent. They have an agreeable nature which makes them a fantastic family horses. They can also be used as therapy horses due to their unflappable personality.

In addition to all of these characteristics, the breed is known for being tractable, sensible, and willing. A good Gypsy Vanner will have all of these important traits. These traits also make the Gypsy Vanner an adaptable breed that is able to participate in all of the equine disciplines. You could see a Gypsy Vanner in dressage, jumping, driving, and more!

Gypsy Vanner Care

If you give your horse the proper care and maintenance that it needs, it will be able to live a long and happy life. The Gypsy Vanner breed, for example, can live an average of 20 to 25 years if properly taken care of. It is also important to note that this is a breed that does have several care needs. The weight and the feathers of the horse are what needs the most care and attention, typically. That being said, the Gypsy Vanner is still considered to be an easy keeper among horses. We will go over the needs of the Gypsy Vanner in greater detail further in this article. 

Gypsy Vanner Diet and Nutrition

Some horses have very demanding diets, while the dietary needs of other breeds are less so. As each breed of horse has a different build, energy level, purpose, and more, not all breeds will benefit from the same diet. The Gypsy Vanner breed is one that is a less demanding eater, especially when it comes to things like supplements.

They do need a bit more forage than the average horse, which is because of their conformation and weight. Horses of this breed will also need a variety of fresh hay, pasture, some grains and vegetables, and some fruits, too.

Draft horses, such as the Gypsy Vanner, are known to have economical metabolisms. This means that they are able to digest nutrients slowly and more efficiently. Draft horses can also be prone to obesity, which means that their grazing should be monitored carefully to avoid this. 

Gypsy Vanner Health Issues

Like every breed of horse, there are some common health issues that can crop up with the Gypsy Vanner breed. That being said, this breed is overall a pretty healthy horse breed. The Gypsy Horse Association even notes that they are a sturdy and healthy breed. Hardy breeding has made Gypsy Vanners a breed that is good at jumping and swimming and is even able to carry heavy weights on its back.

They have strong conformations and can withstand many obstacles. However, one of the biggest health issues to be aware of is obesity. This is a health problem common with all draft breeds.

To avoid this, you should not overfeed your Gypsy Vanner and should also maintain a healthy diet. Gypsy Vanners can be prone to polysaccharide storage myopathy, or PSSM, and equine metabolic syndrome, or EMS, as well. 

Gypsy Vanner Grooming

While the Gypsy Vanner horse does not have a particularly demanding diet, as we went over above, the required grooming of this breed is certainly more involved. One factor is the feathers on the horse’s legs. They are striking, but they do require more upkeep to avoid issues such as skin irritation or diseases. Most, but not all, of the Gypsy Vanner horses will have feathers.

Their feathers must be washed and dried every 3 to 4 days. If you do not do so, your horse may end up dealing with skin irritation or skin infections. In addition to caring for your horse’s feathers, you will also want to brush its coat every day with a body brush in order to remove any small particles or debris. A curry comb should also be used to get rid of more serious grease and dirt as well as to stimulate your horse’s blood flow.

Gypsy Vanner History

The Gypsy Vanner breed has not been around for very long, especially when compared to other breeds. Because of this, they do not have as much of a lengthy history. These small draft horses were used and developed by the English Romanichal and Irish Travelers. Below, we will go over the history of the Gypsy Vanner horse as we know it today. 

Gypsy Vanner Origin

As we mentioned above, the Gypsy Vanner is a breed that originated in the British Isle and was used by the English Romanichal and Irish Travelers so that they could better travel through the Isles. However, the horses were not used by travelers until the later 19th century. Once they began to use the Gypsy Vanner horse, they used them to pull their vardos, or caravans, and then started to breed the horses to better fulfill this purpose. They bred the Gypsy Vanner horse to be the ideal caravan horse, using the Shire, Clydesdale, and British ponies such as the Dales to crossbreed for favorable traits. 

Gypsy Vanner Historic Development

After World War II, the English Romanichal had the ambition and vision to create what they pictured to be the perfect caravan horse. This horse would be “a small Shire, with more feather, more color, and a sweeter head”, and this is what the original breeding goal was. Most of the steps of the selective breeding process were not documented to the outside world. It was not until two Americans by the names of Dennis and Cindy Thompson were traveling through the English countryside and came upon a breed of horse that was not known to them, grazing in the fields. The Thompsons went on to assist in creating the breed now known as the Gypsy Vanner. They did this by connecting with the English Romanichal and being the first to take the first of horses across the pond to the United States. The breed is still more common in Europe where they originated than in North America. 

Notable Gypsy Vanner Horses

Gypsy Vanner horses were not known to the outside world for a long time, as we mentioned previously. This means that there was less time for horses of the breed to become notorious or famous. However, there are still some famous Gypsy Vanner horses that are worth mentioning! These horses have typically won competitions or hold records. Some Gypsy Vanner pedigrees are also notable as they have produced well-known horses. 

The Gypsy King

The Gypsy King is a famous Gypsy Vanner horse who is a black and white tobiano stallion. He was famous for being the sire of 84 foals. He was also the first of the Gypsy Vanner stallions that the Thompsons imported to the United States, back in 1998. The Gypsy King is widely considered to be the most famous and recognized of the Gypsy Vanner breed, all over the world. 

Birthday Boy King

Birthday Boy King was a Gypsy Vanner who was born on Cindy Thompson’s birthday. He is a striking black Blagdon stallion and lives at the Appleby equestrian center. He is also recognizable for the prominent blaze on his forehead, three stockings, and a sock. Birthday Boy King’s sire is The Gypsy King, another famous Gypsy Vanner horse. This means he is directly descended from the first Gypsy Vanner to step foot on US soil.

VV King William

VV William was a black and white tobiano stallion. He was born in 2007 and is 15 hands tall at his withers. He has sired approximately 35 foals, and his own sire was the legendary Gypsy Vanner stallion The Gypsy King! In addition, VV William has fathered many champion offspring. These champs include the likes of the Champion and Hall of Fame Stallion GG Lyuba’s King Zeus. 

Gypsy Vanner Myths and Legends

Like with the history of the Gypsy Vanner and the notable horses of the breed, we do not know as much about Gypsy Vanner myths and legends, because they are still a fairly new breed of horse.

They were unknown to the outside world for quite a while. The legends that surround the breed mainly originate from the English Romanichal community. We will go over some of the details of the stories and myths that we do know further in this article.

Verbal History

It was not until the late 19th century that the first studbook of the breed was introduced. Instead, the breeding goals and the history of the Gypsy Vanner was passed down verbally in the English Romanichal and Irish Traveler communities. This is one of the main reasons that we do not know about the older history of the breed. 

Ireland, not Great Britain

The Gypsy Vanner is a horse of many names, which can be confusing to some. For example, the breed is also known as the Irish Cob. There is a reason for this, though! The Gypsy Vanner originated from Ireland and not the UK, which is why the breed has these names. The Gypsy Vanner is the more commonly used name for the breed in the United States.

Fairytale Horse

The Gypsy Vanner, or Irish Cob, is a breed that looks particularly magical! On top of its magical appearance, there are also some beliefs that the breed is not just an ordinary horse. Locals in Ireland used to believe that these horses have a connection to fairies and leprechauns, and some do still believe this! The horses are also called Tinker Horses, and of course, we all know the fairy Tinkerbell of Peter Pan fame. Do you believe in magic, too?

Modern Gypsy Vanner Horses

The Gypsy Vanner was unknown for many years, and the outside world had no idea that they existed. These days, though, the breed has emerged to worldwide popularity. They are beloved for their temperament and unique appearance, too.

That being said, they are still a fairly rare breed. Gypsy Vanners can especially be found in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States, often being used as family horses or pleasure horses. The kind temperament of the breed and solid conformation has made the Gypsy Vanner popular, and thus their breeding has increased in volume in past years. 

Gypsy Vanner Breeding

The Irish Cob, or Gypsy Vanner, breed of horse began to grow in popularity in the United States. This, of course, was due to the interest of the Thompsons in the breed. The Gypsy Vanner has also increased its popularity in the breed’s home countries of the United Kingdom and Ireland. They are more common than ever and can now be spotted all over the countryside!

Due to the sweet and kind nature of the Gypsy Vanner, many families have a gelding of the breed on their farm or keep them as family pets. Most of those that own Gypsy Vanners these days are not nomadic, as the travelers who originally bred them are. Th Gypsy Horse Association still remains the original breeding goal of the English Romanichal.

Gypsy Vanner Population

As we have mentioned earlier in this article, the Gypsy Vanner is a fairly rare breed of horse, though it has become more common in recent years. It is estimated that there are around 10,000 horses of the breed across the globe today.

Of these 10,000 horses, 20% of them are selectively bred so that they can maintain the Gypsy Vanner breed standards. While there are not definitive numbers about the Gypsy Vanner population, it is estimated that 20% of the horses reside in the United States. Of course, the number of Gypsy Vanners is low in comparison to the number of some more populous breeds like the American Quarter Horse. This low number can be attributed to the relative newness of the Gypsy Vanner breed. 

Gypsy Vanner Uses

The Gypsy Vanner is a particularly versatile breed, as according to the Gypsy Horse Association. In fact, they even say that the Gypsy Vanner or Irish Cob is “beyond doubt, the most versatile of animals in existence and long ago established a reputation as the best ride and drive animal in the world”. The gait of this breed is agile, powerful, and well-balanced.

All of this makes them successful dressage horses. Another trait of the breed is that they have a good depth of body and are suited for driving or riding. After all, the breed was used for pulling caravans, originally. Their kind temperament makes them good for any use. They are also naturally gifted jumpers and can even compete in jumping and dressage as a result.

Gypsy Vanner Prices

The price of a horse is commonly thought to be the purchase price, and while this is true, there are other costs associated with a horse as well. While there are different purchase prices for a horse depending upon certain characteristics, there are also additional costs that you will continue to pay for your horse’s lifetime. These include the cost of food and room and board, for example. Below, we will go over some of the numbers associated with owning a Gypsy Vanner horse. 

Gypsy Vanner Purchase Price

The Gypsy Vanner horse can be more expensive than more common and popular breeds like the Thoroughbred or American Quarter Horse. Part of the reason for this is because of the low number of Gypsy Vanner breeders in the United States.

It is a classic case of supply and demand driving the cost up! The breed was only imported into North America a couple of decades ago, so the number of available horses is limited, therefore increasing the purchase price. On average, a Gypsy Vanner stallion will cost between $1200 to $25,000. A Gypsy foal, on the other hand, can cost as low as $120 if you were to purchase it in Ireland, where the breed is more populous.

Then, you would have to factor in import costs with the purchase price. Import costs to the states, for example, can be up to $7,500. A good Gypsy Vanner horse can cost between $3400 to $5400 on average, while a very high-quality Gypsy Vanner can cost around $25,000.

Some of the things that come into play here are how old the horse is and how well it is trained. Bloodlines are also important and can drive up the purchase price of a horse. For example, if the horse comes from champions, it will cost much more than a horse from a lesser bloodline.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much do Gypsy Vanner horses cost?

The Gypsy Vanner horse breed is one that can cost more than some other breeds of horse when you look at the average purchase price. However, it is also important to remember that the cost of a horse is not limited to their purchase price.

There are certain costs that you will be paying throughout the horse’s lifetime, like their food, shelter, and medical needs. There are also different factors that affect the purchase price of a horse, and these include their bloodline, age, and training level.

Since the Gypsy Vanner is a rarer breed in North America, they can cost between $10,000 and $40,000, easily. If you are purchasing a top breeding stallion, that price can skyrocket to between $45,000 and $60,000. 

Are Gypsy Vanners good horses to ride?

Plenty of breeds of horses are good for riding, but there are also some horses that cannot be ridden, or are more difficult to ride. The majority, though, are able to be ridden, because after all, the sport associated with horses is called horseback riding! Luckily, the Gypsy Vanner is a good breed of horse to ride.

They have a laid-back temperament, which makes them a good equine partner and a horse that will typically be easy to ride. This breed is ridden in both the English and Western riding disciplines. They are also suited for many events and disciplines, such as dressage and trail riding, among others.

Are Gypsy Vanners good for beginners?

It is important for beginner equestrians or those who lack a lot of confidence when riding to be paired with a horse suited to their skill level. Those who do not do so are more prone to accidents, which are unfortunately quite common in the horseback riding world.

Gypsy Vanners are one breed that are well suited to beginner-level riders. This is because they have a laid-back temperament and are not a temperamental breed that will be more sensitive or difficult to control. They are also known to be a docile breed that is easy to train, and are popular choices among riders, despite their rarity. 

Are Gypsy Vanner horses rare?

Gypsy Vanner horses are still a fairly rare breed of horse, and this makes them more expensive. Though they are considered to be rare, especially in North America, they have many favorable qualities that make them popular with equestrians and horse lovers.

The breed is a striking breed of horse that was bred and developed by European gypsies, so they are less rare in European countries. Gypsy Vanners are also a newer breed, as they have only been being developed for the past 50 years or so. The European gypsies bred these horses to make them better suited to pulling caravans.