Monday, April 13, 2009

Straight Out of a Fairy Tale: The Gypsy Vanner Horse

E-card of Finnvara of Toadstool Farm

The Gypsy Vanner Horse (also called Gypsy or Irish Cob, and sometimes 'Tinker' Horse), was originally bred by Romani people to pull the vardos. From what I understand, the Vanner was bred by Romanis who were situated in England and Ireland.

These folks needed a very special type of horse to meet many different requirements; the horse must be hardy and an easy keeper, strong enough to pull their wagons over sometimes great distances, and they needed to be gentle and agreeable enough for the young ones to be around.

A Vardo. Photo from Sunset through the clouds

The ancestors of the modern Gypsy Vanner are a combined breeding of Friesian, Clydesdale, Shire, Dales Pony, and maybe the Dartmoor Pony and Exmoor Pony as well. All breeds which are noted for hardiness and strength, sure-footedness, and most for their docile personalities. Oh, and of course like the Vanner, all very beautiful!

The Gypsy Vanner did not become a recognized breed until the late 20th century, and since then many different registries and preservation societies have emerged. The first registered Vanners touched American soil in 1996, and have been gaining popularity in North America thanks to folks like breeders Cindy and Dennis Thompson.

Originally posted as a Luverly of the Week. Photo from Sweetyseb

The Vanner can come in a variety of heights as there are no set standards, but there are generally three classifications with in registries. For horses under 14 hh (hands), they are known as 'mini', horses that are 14 to 15.2 hh are 'classic', and for those above 15.2 hh are called 'grand'. There are also no set standards for colour, although many are a beautiful piebald or skewbald.

One characteristic that Gypsy Vanners are most known for is all their hair! They have lush manes, forelocks, tales, and wonderful horse-feathers, all of which add to their 'fairy tale' appearance.

The overall body structure is powerful, heavy, and compact with dense bone. The back is short, the shoulders deep, the chest broad, the hindquarters smooth and rounded, the legs straight and clean, the neck slightly arched, and every part is well muscled.

Peaking from under all that hair they have large eyes, neat little ears, a broad forehead, and a square-ish muzzle. And besides their good looks, they have a personality to match: they are kind and sweet-natured, very intelligent, cooperative, and laid back.

Photo from CottonEyeJoe

Today the Gypsy Vanner is a multi-discipline breed, and is used in shows for dressage, hunter, jumper, and sometime Western classes. For homesteaders, this is a breed that I would recommend as much as I would the Canadian Horse (click to see previous post on this breed) if you are looking to work with a smaller breed.

They would be excellent for in the field, to haul loads, and for transportation either by horse-back or in a cart/wagon.



Photo from Annalisa Parisi


cammie said...

oh how pretty!

perma_culture said...

Those horses are so beautiful! If I ever hit the jackpot I will get me one X^D

Anonymous said...

i could see my noble knight riding in on one of thoes!

Medusae said...

It's decided! I'm getting one of these IMMEDIATELY!

*makes other two wishes....*

nefaeria said...

Cammie: Aren't they?! I'm a sucker for anything remotely equine (I think the 'ugliest' horse is a beaut), but these gaffers are gorgeous!

Permie: May I suggest a whole herd? ;)

Anon: Perhaps you can find a 2 for 1 special! ;)

Medusae: One of the perks of the NWO (from a pervious discussion on your blog), you get as many wishes as you like!

dancilhoney said...

I was immediately in love with these beautiful horses. Thanks for the informative post. gypsy horses