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The Official 2013 Publication of the



Gypsy Vanner


Feat her Addict My Life AS A



Gypsy Vanner Horse Society

United States Dressage Federation All Breeds Awards Program

— Gypsy Vanner Horses — The United States Dressage Federation is the only national membership organization dedicated to dressage, a method of horse training in existence since ancient Greece and an Olympic sport since the inception of the modern Olympics in the late 1800’s. Dedicated to education, the recognition of achievement and promotion of dressage, USDF is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization with more than 30 different educational programs, 125 affiliate local or regional clubs and more than 2000 annual awards for excellence in competition. The national levels, Training Level through Fourth Level, are governed by the United States Equestrian Federation. The international levels are governed by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society participates in the USDF All Breeds Awards Program. Each year horses that have declared the GVHS as their registry with the USDF and completed the requirements with the USDF earn scores toward awards in this annual program.

Gypsy Vanner Award winners in the USDF All Breeds Program: 2011 Training Level Open Simone Owner Lee Ann Kagy Riders Laura Corsentino & Lee Ann Kagy 2010 First Level Open I’m The Lion’s Share Owner Jeannette Slaughter Rider Annie Sweet third Level Open Lake Ridge British Sterling Owner Laura Robideau Rider Sarah Travis Second Level Musical Freestyle Kuchi Owner Wendy Ricci Rider Heather Caudill

2009 First Level Open I’m The Lion’s Share Owner Jeannette Slaughter Rider Annie Sweet First Level Open Kuchi Owner Wendy Ricci Rider Heather Caudill First Level Musical Freestyle Kuchi Owner Wendy Ricci Rider Heather Caudill 2008 Third Level Open Kuchi Owner Wendy Ricci Rider Heather Caudill two year old fillies Mount Christie Tiny Dancer Owner Cheryl McLaughlin four year old & older mares Kuchi Owner Wendy Ricci

2007 yearling fillies Mount Christie Tiny Dancer Owner Julie Agar

2006 Colt/Gelding of Current Year Latcho’s Barrett Owner Kimberly Osborne Three Year Old Colt/ Gelding Turley Owner Susanne Rathbone four year old and older stallion Charlie Owner Susanne Rathbone four year old and older brood mare Kaeli Owner Kimberly Osborne


The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society is a proud Breed Partner with the American Driving Society. This is a very important partnership for our breed. The Gypsy Vanner is recognized as a small draft horse capable of pulling a caravan. Driving then is a discipline in which our breed excels and one that our horses truly enjoy. We are pleased to be a part of the ADS Breed Partners program and hope to help to promote driving both as a recreational and sport activity, and to demonstrate the driving abilities of the Gypsy Vanner Horse. The following was taken from, “A Short History of the American Driving Society” by Natasha Grigg, July 14, 2006. It can be found on the ADS website along with other interesting and helpful information about the ADS. The sport of carriage driving is thriving in our country. It is not a large sport like the Hunters or the Reining Horses, but has been steadily growing, especially since the inception of the American Driving Society, which came into being in 1974. Actually, there are two carriage driving organizations in the U.S. – the Carriage Association of America, known as the CAA and the American Driving Society, the ADS. The CAA was the first carriage association in this country, founded in 1960 by twelve people. The main interest of this group was and is the preservation, restoration and exhibition of antique carriages, as well as historical data on the origins of particular vehicles and the history of horse drawn vehicles. The first Carriage Journal was published in 1963, with Paul Downing as editor. After Tom Ryder became editor, he encouraged more interest in horses as well. In the early seventies, a number of members of the CAA wished for better guidelines and consistency in the judging of pleasure shows. A meeting was held at the Greenbriar in North Carolina in conjunction with a CAA meeting to discuss this. There was no real interest at that time on the part of the CAA in the driving horse, so a group got together in 1974 at the Stonybrook, Long Island driving show to form an organization – the ADS – patterned after the BDS (the British Driving Society). Interested people were invited to join

“Jasmine and Esmeralda were the first Vanners to drive tandem and became the North American Tandem Driving Champions in 2001 when owned by Bill and Joanne Thorup. Here they are driven by Bob Giles.”


– they were the Founding Members – and they contributed money to start the Society. About 35 people did so. A sportswriter for a Connecticut newspaper, Charles Kellogg, became the volunteer editor of the WHIP, the official publication of the ADS. This journal was the glue that kept the fledgling membership together and growing. The WHIP is now edited by Sandra Cooke. The WHIP has won numerous awards in multiple categories. In fact, there are 12 publications annually: four WHIPS and eight WHEELHORSES, the WHEELHORSE being the newsletter, is a tip of the hat to our Canadian brethren, being the name of the former newsletter of the Canadian Driving Society. These Founding Members devised Pleasure Driving rules that created “working classes” which emphasize the horse, and “reinsmanship classes” with emphasis on the good driver, so that not only the most expensive harness and antique turnout would always win. Driving Patterns, precursors of the driven dressage tests were developed. There were guidelines to driving in the AHSA (now USEF) rulebook, but they largely pertained to show ring breed driving, so an ADS committee was formed to revise these the rules and to submit them to the AHSA for their 1975/76 rule book. A Licensed Officials Committee was established to help make judging more uniform, a handbook was published to spell out some of the requirements for a fair competition. And thus the seeds for competitive driving in this country took root and began to grow. More and more pleasure shows sprung up around the country, mainly in the Northeast. Some like Walnut Hill and Lorenzo still take place and have grown into destinations. Many other wonderful ones have ceased to exist. There are also now some superb newer shows in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and other points South as well as in the Midwest and California. The ADS trains and licenses its own officials and is the conduit to the national federation driving license for people who wish to achieve the highest national licensing level which is required to officiate at advanced level CDEs and to continue onward to become a candidate at the international level with the FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale).

“Julie Anthony is the proud owner of Spencer, a beautiful Gypsy Vanner gelding, who has been showing the Combined Driving world that Vanners can do it!”

“Today Jasmine and Esmeralda are proudly owned by WR Ranch, Bill and Wendy Ricci, and are two of the horses forming the very first Vanner four in hand team.”

Odd Job Bob and his movie car. Don’t all stars have cars?

y o J g n i r B El Brio Vanners

By Sue Rathbone

One of the early breeding farms that set out to embrace, promote, and protect the Vanner Breed was El Brio Vanner located in Pennsylvania and owned by Sue Rathbone and Ed Fitts. El Brio focused its breeding program on quality and performance. It was not long until its horses were winning in the show ring and being purchased and enjoyed by a varied group of horse enthusiasts. Over time Sue and Ed’s interests began to take them in other directions and they began to consider ending their program and finding places where their Vanners could serve as the best ambassadors for this new breed that they had truly come to love. They wanted to assist in getting the name, Gypsy Vanner Horse, out to the general public and to help insure the breed would grow. 10

Sue owned a gelding, Odd Job Bob, she had found in England pulling a Gypsy’s trade cart, thus his name. He demonstrated a wonderful versatility as a riding horse, halter horse, and driving horse. She used to share, “No matter wherever we take him he has fans. They follow us around like the Pied Piper saying there he is – Odd Job Bob!” Ed and Sue decided that Bob had talent. Talent that could make him a Vanner star and amazingly they decided to produce a major motion picture helping him do just that! In 2011 “The Greening of Whitney Brown” was released on video. The movie starred Aidan Quinn, Brooke Shields, Kris Kristofferson and Sammi Hanratty. It has been very well received making Odd Job Bob not only a movie star, but a Vanner star! If you thought making a movie was enough, well not for Sue. As the downsizing of El Brio began, Vanners were donated to therapy organizations and they have been surprising everyone they have worked with so far. The following story was shared by Jeanna Pellino of Hidden Acres Therapeutic Riding Center: Hidden Acres Therapeutic Riding Center of Naugatuck, Connecticut was founded in 2008 by Mary & Theron Simons. Understanding the unique gifts that horses offer, they developed the 501c3 non-profit program to serve children and adults with physical, developmental and emotional challenges through therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities.  It takes a very special horse to be part of the Hidden Acres therapy herd as they must possess a gentle and patient spirit, most typically found in older horses.  However, the youngest member of our herd at four years of age is Gypsy Vanner EB Kendall Jackson. Kendall was donated to Hidden Acres last December by Sue Rathbone of El Brio Stables, to honor the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School and to serve those traumatized by the event. A favorite of all who visit the farm, it is not only Kendall’s beauty that attracts children like a magnet with her striking black and white body, and her long flowing forelock and mane, but it’s what’s inside her - a soul so gentle and sensitive it instinctively draws people in. As soon as she sees a visitor, she’ll come right to the stall door, turn and press her mane against it, so the child or adult may stroke her. You can see any tension in the individual melt away as Kendall works her equine magic just being herself - a gentle, loving soul.  We are so thankful to have her in the program, and look forward to her having a long life full of giving to others. Hidden Acres feels strongly that we must advocate for and honor the horse for the many gifts they provide.  Activities with program participants are driven by both the needs of rider and the horse. Some

Feathers and C. Rock doing their Vanner thing!

days a student will ride and other days the focus will be on giving back to the horse. This supports our philosophy of promoting an authentic environment for teaching empathy and compassion for all living things.   To learn more about Hidden Acres and how you can help, please visit our website at,  email: hiddenacres2@gmail. com or call 203-723-0633.  We leave EB Kendall Jackson doing that great Vanner job on the east coast and now travel all the way to the west coast to see what other El Brio Vanners are doing there. The following story was shared by Christine Rodriguez of Hippotherapy (hippo=horse in Greek) is a physical, occupational and/ or speech therapy that uses the movement of a horse as rehabilitation strategy. The key to our program is the quality of our horses. We require they be sound and have the correct temperament for this type of work. We do not charge for this service, we depend solely on donations, grants, fund raising events and our “all volunteer” staff to continue our program. We were given an opportunity of a lifetime when two Gypsy Vanners were donated to our program. As each day passes I am in awe of Sue Rathbone’s breeding program. On the outside it’s easy to see the beauty of the Gypsy Vanner, but for me it’s their soft easy going temperaments, solid strong demeanor, trusting hearts (especially Feathers), and willingness that make me a Gyspy Vanner supporter.   Feathers is a very, very special mare I am so honored to be able to work with her. C.Rock is the most mature baby I ever met. He takes his lead from Feathers which is wonderful. She is a calming force for him and for me. I am so proud to have them in our program. Gypsy Vanners have enhanced our program. We are beginning our newest pilot program “Equine Assisted Learning” on June 18th, we plan on using Feathers and C. Rock exclusively for this program. It does not involve mounting the horse, it’s all done on the ground. It focuses on educationally disengaged children, attention deficit children, autistic children and generally kids that have trouble focusing in a traditional classroom atmosphere. I will be working with an educator with 18 years of experience and a horse lover. I am very excited to begin this program and I am even happier that we have the “perfect horses” to compliment this program. This is a link to a video that was recently done about our program: “Time spent with a horse is never wasted!” So as you can see El Brio Vanners have captured the attention of movie goers as well as begun to touch and heal hearts from coast to coast. The GVHS appreciates and applauds all those involved with El Brio Vanners and thanks you for a job well done!

Odd Job Bob is in charge at the Kentucky Horse Park!

EB Kendall Jackson under saddle.


Š Mark Barrett

in North America in 2001. The White Horse was so intimate to Patsy McCann’s life that his image along with the image of The White Horse’s sire are etched on Patsy Mccann’s grave. Patsy McCann’s perfect caravan horse will impact the Gypsy Vanner Horse breed forever. The Vanners look that Patsy McCann chased was inspired by two stallions soon after World War II, Sonny Mays and The Coal Horse. The vision was to create a small Shire with more color, more feather, and a sweeter head. The name Vanner in the English Chambers Dictionary was described as, “ A horse suitable to pull a caravan” until 1996.

“He does she replied but he is not here right now, I will call him for you.” When the man arrived I shook his hand and said, “My name is, Dennis Thompson.” He looked in my eyes, pointed his finger in my face and said, “I know who you are, you bought “The Log”, I raised him from a baby, come inside and I’ll show you pictures. That man was Tom Price and the old man at the entrance was Tom’s father.

The name was removed for lack of use the year we brought the breed to America. A Vanner was the semi truck of Great Britain before combustible engines replaced them.

The pictures Tom showed us that day were of a red and white Irish bred mare who was The Log’s mother and a beautiful stallion Tom still owned called The Old Horse . Both sire and dam, Tom said, were Irish bred by the Connors.

A Gypsy’s “Vanner” Horse is therefore a horse suitable to pull a Gypsy’s caravan.

Tom Price is a very large breeder of horses. All horses raised by Gypsies were called coloured horses or coloured cobs before the name Gypsy Vanner Horse distinguished the breed from the type of horse Gypsies raised for the restaurant business in Belgium Holland and France.

The Log had a destiny to become Cushti Bok, GV00001, the first selectively bred horse, developed by British Gypsies, to be recognized as a breed and the first registered Gypsy Vanner Horse. If you are a Vanner lover you might already know most of his story. Now let me tell you the rest. Six years after meeting Cushti Bok/The Log, the breed had been introduced and Cindy and I were in Wales trying to find a man who had dedicated twenty years of his life building miniature Gypsy carts and caravans that we thought we wanted to buy. As we drove through the Welsh countryside history repeated itself. To our right in a stone fenced field stood a beautiful stallion and a band of beautiful mares. We were bold that day and jumped the fence for a closer look. Not since our fateful encounter with The Log had we encountered another stallion of his quality in an open field. It really is rare to see great ones in the open, so I guess we got a little carried away with the fence jumping. We knew that a breeder of the Vanner vision owned this stallion, and like The Log, the look was not an accident. This time the nearest farmer did not know who owned the horses but he knew they belonged to a Traveler and he knew where we would find a travelers caravan site, it was down by the docks. As we approached the entrance to the site, two men stood burning branches near the entrance. Tree lopping (trimming) is a common vocation of Gypsies so these men were surely burning their days work. As we pulled into the entrance, the men stared at us with suspicion. An old man approached my window and said, “What do you want,” “I’m interested in your coloured horses,” I replied. “You messing with me,“ he said. “No, I’m an American, I love your horses, I have several.” He said, “the man you need is in the back caravan.” The demeanor of the men burning the branches changed for the better as we entered the site but I could not help but wonder, how did this man know who we needed to see and why was he in the back caravan? Our experiences had always been good but this time I wondered, why the back caravan? A woman with ringlet headed children was outside the back caravan. “We are interested in coloured horses and were told that the man we needed to see lived here,” I said.

Tom had fifteen hundred horses at the time but only a small percentage were the Vanner breed. We spent that entire day with Tom and he could not have been more gracious with his time or willing to show us the horses he most prized. We walked past hundreds of Tom’s common coloured horses as he guided us to see his special ones. We stood with, Bob The Blagdon, Miss Price, The Midget Mare and overlooking the Irish Sea we stood with, The Log’s DNA verified sire, The Old Horse of Wales. As we stood on the hill overlooking the sea with Tom and The Old Horse, he pointed to a clearing under a tree and said, ”He was born right over there. I will never forget the day he was born, I held him in my arms and I knew he was special. He’s the best colt I ever raised.” At the beginning of our day when Tom showed us the picture of The Log’s sire and dam, he also gave us a little book on Appleby Horse Fair. The book had a picture of two Gypsy boys ponying three yearling colts through The River Eden in Appleby. The lead colt in that picture was The Log. The Log Tom told us was the highest priced colt at Appleby Horse Fair that year, selling for seven thousand pounds. With a 1.70 exchange rate that existed then, seven thousand British pounds was $11.900.00 US dollars. A lot of money for a horse not recognized as a breed. The man who paid that much to own the special colt was Roy Evans, the same Gypsy who owned The Log when we discovered him. “Look all you want,” Roy said, “you wont find any better and if you do he’s gonna cost you a lot of, money”..... At the end of our special day Tom asked, “How did you find me?“ I answered, “We spotted a really nice stallion and asked the nearest farmer who owned him. He didn’t know but he told us where to find your caravan site.” Tom then said, “Oh that’s a son of Patsy McCann’s stallion from England, “The White Horse”...

Now you know the rest of the story” Dennis and Cindy Thompson are the founders of the GVHS. Dennis can be reached at or 352-817-1777


The Impact of Three Cultures on A New Breed

By Joyce M. Christian

The Gypsy Vanner Horse caught everyone’s eye when first introduced at Equitana in Kentucky in 1998. Its color, its size, its movement were a unique set of traits that definitely set it apart from other breeds. This rare, and special horse was the product of approximately sixty years of selective breeding begun by a few Gypsies in England and Ireland. Yet this horse was not introduced by those Gypsies, but rather by an American couple, Dennis and Cindy Thompson, who stumbled upon one of these horses running in a farmer’s field. Why was it the Thompsons and not the Gypsies who introduced this incredible breed to the world? 22

To answer that question we have to look at the Gypsy culture, the British culture, the American culture and the circumstances that fostered the development of a brand new breed of horse. While some Irish Gypsies are credited with herds contributing to the breed’s development, it was primarily the British Romani Gypsies that are responsible for the completion of the process that lead to the Gypsy Vanner Breed. The Romani Gypsies exited India one thousand years ago, moving outward into the then known world. The tragedy for this nomadic people was that no matter what culture they encountered on their travels they were never welcomed. They were mistreated, enslaved, or killed. Those who would escape and move on began over time to develop a lack of trust for anyone outside the Romani culture. They began to develop protective traits keeping outsiders at a safe distance. Among those were changes in their language so as to confuse or prevent outsiders from knowing what they were saying. Romani women began to tell fortunes and while this was a profitable trade, it also was one that kept those outsiders who feared bad news away. This was not a skill that the culture had but rather a pretense to further add to their wall of protection. While keeping outsiders at a distance was desirable for the Romani, they also had to survive. This meant doing business or trade with their current resident nation. Romani occupations were those most appropriate for someone on the move. They became skilled artisans as well as entertainers, and one of their most prized skills was that of horsemanship. In fact, according to Dr. Ian Hancock, a Romani historian, “the buying, selling, and trading of horses has been one of their most profitable professions for a thousand years.” The key for us here as we look at the development of the Vanner is two fold – one the protective wall that prevented anyone outside the culture from knowing of the private family breeding practices that lead to this new horse; secondly, the profession of horse trading which became critical when Gypsies not involved with the selective breed worthy herds saw the business potential of selling their indiscriminately bred horses as if they were breed worthy to unsuspecting outsiders. Now, we take a look at the British culture for a moment. The first point in time that we need to revisit is the early part of the last century. Specifically we need to see the impact the two world wars had on the Gypsy horse population. During WWI the British government conviscated horses from Gypsy herds for wartime use. If you were a young Romani at this time and witnessed this government action then your job was to rebuild your herd after the war. The sad reality is that within a couple of decades it happened to you again. Following WWII you determine this is not going to happen to you any more. Rather, you will develop herds that will be undesirable for government use.

legislation prohibiting the movement of Gypsies throughout England. They did, however, build in clauses allowing for places and times when travelling and gathering would be acceptable. Given the travelling restrictions and the need to change their herds to make them undesirable for government use, the Gypsies began breeding for a new look to match the changes in lifestyle being forced upon them. When and how did this process of breeding shift? It began shortly after WWII. There was no longer a need for the larger living wagons (even though some continued to live in them) since moving around in them was so limited. Rather the majority of the families began to use the bow top caravans which were smaller, lighter, and better suited for short travel and lodging. The breeding process began to focus on all white horses or horses with broken coats. This would not be desirable for government use. Also, rather than the larger horse the bow top caravan required a smaller animal. Thus, the breeding moved to a smaller horse while retaining the desired traits: calmness, manageability, endurance, and strength. This was achieved by breeding their draft crosses to the local British ponies, primarily the Dales. As early as the 1970’s the cross breeding was no longer needed as horses possessing the look and behavior had been successfully produced. At that time breeders began to maintain selective herds: herds of these “new” horses that when bred to each other reproduced themselves. A new breed had been developed; existed only in the selective herds of a few Gypsies; were no more than 300 to 600 at the time of their discovery by the Thompsons in 1994. Now that these remarkably beautiful horses existed why did the Gypsy breeders responsible for their development not wish to declare and share this accomplishment with all of us? First, this was not done to create a new breed, but rather to breed a horse more appropriate for a changed lifestyle. Once achieved, it became a matter of family pride as to the herds that gained the respect and recognition within the Gypsy community. continued

To begin, what kind of horses did the Gypsies have that would be appropriate for wartime use? In the early 1900’s the Romani were travelling throughout England and Ireland in their living wagons pulled by large draft crosses. These horses had the strength and endurance to pull those wagons over great distances sometimes day after day. In addition they were calm and manageable which were appreciated traits as family work animals. While these characteristics made them ideal for the Gypsies’ way of life they also made the horses desirable to the British war effort. Also, as early as the 1930’s the British government had established


Historically the relationship with Gypsies and those outside the Gypsy community has been one of distrust and distance. It was no different when this horse came on the scene; the truly treasured selectively bred animals were only for family and friends, never were they intended to be shared outside the Gypsy community. If the Gypsies were not going to share their accomplishment with us, then why didn’t a British horseman recognize that a breed had been developed and make the effort to work with the Gypsies in sharing this new horse with the rest of the world? The British also have become known through history as skilled equestrians. The point in time of most interest to the development of the Gypsy Vanner Breed would be during the mid to late 1980’s and through the 1990’s. At this time the British equestrian community began a love affair with colored horses. Colored horse clubs formed for the purpose of showing off and simply enjoying any horse with a colored coat. This fad was not breed specific, in fact they accepted and encouraged crossing to get color. As this interest in broken coat horses grew a demand evolved. Where could a British horseman find a colored horse? The Gypsies of course. By the 1980’s early 1990’s the Gypsy horse population had become a sea of color. Now, the British were interested in the Gypsy’s horse not for war time use, but for pleasure. However the cultural connections between the British and Gypsy communities caused the British to see the Gypsy horse population only as crosses or indiscriminately bred animals whose primary purpose was the meat markets of Europe. Granted that was the general use behind horse herds managed by Gypsies. As stated earlier, “the buying, selling, and trading of horses had been a profitable trade” for them for centuries. They raised horses as a commodity. But now in the 1980’s cultural boundaries had caused the generally savvy British horseman to miss a breeding practice occurring right under his nose – the selective herds of a few Gypsies. Without being too hard on the British, it wasn’t apparent to the eye at first glance. Why? The indiscriminate herds of the Gypsies, the ones they sold as commodity, had taken on a look similar to, but not equal to, the selective herds of those few. The primary similarity was the color, and it was color that the British now were admiring. You might say that the color as well as cultural differences were the major stumbling blocks to the British equestrian community embracing and celebrating this incredible new breed. They saw no difference in Gypsy bred horses; they were all colored; they all had cob body types; they must all be the result of the typical Gypsy breeding practice which was “to breed what you


have to what you can find” – no plan, no purpose other than the meat market. That was the world of Gypsy bred horses in the 1980’s early 1990’s. You might be wondering, but what about those Gypsies that had selective herds; that were breeding with plan and purpose. What was happening there? To understand why we almost lost this breed we have to closely look at “their plan and purpose”. These few, approximately fifteen, had only one purpose and one plan – breed “selectively” to create a horse that will wow their clansmen. This they were successfully doing, so much so, that many were in the late 1980’s having to hide prize stallions and mares to prevent them from being stolen by other Gypsies to then use in their breeding programs. These selective herds were carefully guarded, were the pride of these families, and were the beginning of this amazing Vanner breed. continued

Ronnie and Debbie Chunn embrace their new pride and joy, Belle Rose Bright Chiavala, a second generation Gypsy Vanner Horse.

America has cultural traits just as the British and Gypsy folk, and those traits have been interesting to follow over the last sixteen years since the introduction of the Vanner Horse in the late 1990’s. One primary trait, “we want to keep up with the Jones”. People visited Gypsy Gold farm in Ocala, Florida, the Thompsons’ farm. Some could afford the prices being asked by the Thompsons and purchased from the original sixteen horses imported to establish the registry. While others wanted what the Thompsons had, they felt the prices were excessive and began to rationalize that, “if the Thompsons can buy horses from the Gypsies then so can we.” What this group failed to grasp was how long it took the Thompsons to first understand the Gypsies’ breeding practices, find selective herds that indeed were breed worthy, and convince those Gypsies to sell a few of their prized animals. Secondly, these buyers had no understanding of Gypsy breeding practices and were not aware of the “colored horses of Great Britain”, were not aware that “Gypsies breed horses as a commodity”, were not aware that the now three to four thousand Gypsy bred horses were mostly black and white, with some feather, but only a handful of those were genetically correct to be considered a breed. And the big fact and trap, that they did not know was , “Gypsies have been buying, selling, and trading horses for a thousand years as a profitable business.” People went to England and Ireland met Gypsies who were “very happy to sell them Gypsy horses.” These people returned with “their stories”. For them the Gypsies were open and friendly and more than willing to share their work with these horses and certainly happy to sell them horses from their herds. By 2005 America had imported every kind of Gypsy bred horse that was available. By 2005 the Gypsies credited with the selective herds that had created the Vanner Horse had moved on creating herds with different traits that “they” now liked, the British in 2005 continued to wonder what in the world those crazy Americans saw in Gypsy “mongrel” horses. Are you beginning to see the impact these three cultures have played in the development of this amazing Vanner Breed? Initially the Thompsons had planned to register and import only selectively bred horses. This was not going to be an easy task. Gypsies were not selling their selective horses, in fact it took the Thompsons three years to negotiate the purchase of their stallion, The Gypsy King. Now, with American buyers going directly to the Gypsies and the importing of horses from all “three circles” (see chart), it was not looking good for the Vanner.


In 2003 Dennis Thompson agreed to allow horses from that “second circle” into the registry based on their phenotype rather than known pedigree. If the horse’s phenotype met the breed standard set by the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society it could be registered as a Gypsy Vanner Horse. This was an appropriate move to protect the breed. According to equine geneticists horses possessing correct phenotype but without known lineage can expand the genetic base of a breed and over time strengthen and stabilize the breed. Given the Gypsy, British, and American cultures influence over the last sixteen years, where is “the breed” today? It is this writer’s opinion that “the breed”, that would be the Gypsy Vanner Horse exists today primarily in America. Due to the three cultures involved what has transpired is an importing of the Gypsy Horse breeding practices that existed in the late 1990’s in England to America. Accomplished by buyers purchasing from many Gypsies and from their many herds. Importing both indiscriminately and selectively bred horses to these shores. Few, if any Gypsies, continue to maintain herds that would possess the traits we desire in the Vanner Horse. We have “all kinds” of Gypsy bred horses in America today. America has become nothing more than a “reflection” of the England Dennis and Cindy Thompson encountered on that fateful day when Cushti Bok ran to meet them. It took them four years to not only understand a culture and their breeding practices, but to gain their trust in order to protect this amazing achievement for you, me, and Vanner lovers in the future. We have a huge responsibility to embrace the horse that earned breed status in 1998, the selective genetics that created it then and continues to perpetuate it today, only in doing this will the Vanner be found in the future. Today as in England in the late 1990’s those genetics exist in pockets of dedicated breeders who continue to see a “difference”, who breed selectively, and who want to share these incredible horses for many generations to come. There is only one name for these incredible horses and that name is, Gypsy Vanner Horse. The ongoing work of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society will be critical in protecting this breed for the future. In closing, the slogan of the GVHS seems most appropriate, “Come share the dream with us!” Joyce M. Christian is a Vanner historian and freelance writer whose articles on the Gypsy Vanner Horse have appeared in a variety of equine publications over the last twelve years. In 2011 she published her first book, “Dreams… Promises…A Vanner Horse Journey”. The information in this article is copyrighted material and can only be used with the permission of the GVHS and the author.

Traditional Colors in Gypsy Vanner Horses by Jamie Sharp

The traditional and most recognizable Gypsy Vanner horse is the black and white horse. Where does this color come from? Black is a dominant base color. All horses have one of two base colors. Black is dominant over red (chestnut/ brown). This means that if a horse carries a black gene it will cover up a red gene even if a red gene is present. Many Vanners are homozygous for black, meaning that both of their base coat color genes are black. They will never produce a red base coat baby. The paint gene (aka tobiano) adds white in areas covering the base coat color. It is what produces the white on the black to create the traditional black and white Vanner. It is a dominant modifier gene, so if the gene is present the foal will show it. The tricky part is that the paint gene displays its presence over a very wide range. It can add 2 white hairs to an otherwise black horse or produce a white horse with only 2 black hairs. When two copies of the paint gene are present in either parent, homozygous, every one of the babies will have white in addition to its base coat color. The black and white Vanner is called a piebald. There are 1919 registered piebald Gypsy Vanner horses at the time of this writing. The Gypsies I have met seem to like a 50-50 mix of dark to white. Fred Walker, a Gypsy man who helped Dennis and Cindy Thompson to identify and define the Vanner as a breed, was known as the King of the Colored Horses. In the UK the term “colored” in horses refers to horses with the paint gene. There are some people who believe that all Vanners should be paints. Vanners come in other colors too. Skewbald is described as “Combinations of Brown, Red and White including tri-colored Tobiano”. These are traditional colors as well. The red base coat color is called sorrel, chestnut or brown. These horses have no black hair. The red gene is recessive so it is hidden in the presence of a black gene. Thus, even though many Vanners carry red, a red base horse is fairly rare. Without DNA testing it is sometimes hard to determine if a horse carries red. If an individual ever produces a red baby it must carry a red gene.


Bay is another dominant modifier gene. All modifier genes change the base color in some way. Bay can only be seen on a black based horse (a red horse can carry it but will not show the bay color). The bay gene (aka agouti) takes a black horse and moves the black to the edges (head, mane tail and lower legs) leaving brown or red color on the body. Sometimes bay is very easy to see but sometimes is hard. A “seal” bay frequently looks black and only gives clues that it is a bay by producing lighter hair around the muzzle, flanks and under the tail. Many people confuse a

sun-bleached, black horse with a bay horse. Paint coloration and white markings can cover all, or almost all, of the black on an otherwise bay horse. I have seen several horses in the UK called the Red and White mare or stallion but they have black hair above their stockings, on their ears, in their tails or manes. These horses are actually bay paints and would be referred to in the US as tricolors. Grey is a dominant modifier color present in the acknowledged progenitor breeds, even though it is sometimes considered an odd color. As with all dominant modifier genes, grey must be present in at least one parent for a baby to be a grey. Grey will eventually cover all colors with white so in an older horse you can’t always tell which colors it was when it was born without DNA testing. Not all Vanner breeders in the UK I have visited have greys but some prize them. Grey is very easy to eliminate from a herd. Blagdon is the next Vanner color on the list. Blagdon is more of a pattern, caused by several different genes. It is a pattern present in the progenitor breeds of the Vanner. Blagdon Clydesdales are common, as are Shires. Many people associate the extended stockings (white on the legs to the knee or hock connecting to the belly) with these breeds. The genes act like dominant modifiers, much like the paint (tobiano) gene, and produce varying amounts of white. When the pattern is minimally expressed it produces white spotting on the belly which can extend up the sides of the body. With maximum expression it is called sabino and can make the horse mostly white. Sabino horses have white hairs mixed in evenly with the base coat color, mimicking a roan horse color pattern or in splotches/splashes on any part of their bodies. Unfortunately there is only one sabino gene which can be tested for at this time and it is not consistently found in all similarly colored Vanners. Before discussing the last designation of Vanner colors, something should be said about markings. Markings are white areas on the face and legs. Traditional Vanners frequently have 4 white stockings, (white from the hoof to the knee or hock) and a blaze (a wide white mark on the face from the eyes to the muzzle). These markings are present in the draft horse Vanner progenitors. Other facial markings include a star (a white “spot” between the eyes), stripe (a white line below the star and above the muzzle) and a snip (white on the muzzle). Leg markings are sock, (white from the hoof to the ankle) and stockings described above. I have sometimes heard markings called “high whites”. These are stockings with at least some white extending to the elbow, stifle or body, usually associated with blagdons. See “Odd Colored” in part 2.

My Greatest

Accomplishment: GVHS 1st Versatility Medallion of Honour By Rita Susgin-Cardy When the GVHS rolled out their Evaluation Program, I was really excited. With my background in warm-blood horses I understood how valuable that process was in achieving the breed standard goal. I started by having our first Vanner mare we ever purchased evaluated. Although she achieved a 5 star rating (80%), it was very important as a breeder to know what areas she could be improved upon. Thrilled with my information and now on a quest, I took our stallion, The Pleasures’ Mine, to be evaluated for conformation and thought I may as well try the English under saddle test as we had started showing him in the dressage ring at the lower levels.

we proceeded up center line, halted and he sat back and reared up. Much to my horror, astonishment and embarrassment after balancing there for about ten seconds, which felt like forever I reached forward with my whip and gave a good tap, telling him to “Get up!”After a brief inspection of equipment and chat with the evaluators expressing my bewilderment over his behavior, we started over and he did his usual manner of performance scoring 72%. We also brought our newest mare to this evaluation and she was also rated as a four star Vanner scoring 75% for confirmation and 76.25 for English Riding.

Although he was evaluated as a 4 star stallion (73.5%) and I was hoping for a higher rating, I digested the numbers, the remarks and his scores and after some careful unemotional thought came to the same analysis. The Evaluation for English Riding was probably one of my worst attempts at riding ever! I started by going in the wrong direction and with no markers in the arena, I made a real mess of my figures. Being somewhat embarrassed and rather rattled it was hard for me to hold the horse’s attention. He did however do whatever I asked and we managed a score of (70.8%) which I know was what he showed that day in Ohio.

We were now well on our way to achieving the versatility medallion with the stallion but Western Riding was not an area we had any proficiency in. I spent the winter attempting to attain a grasp on Western Riding and getting my rather forward moving boy to rock back, collect and accept this new discipline. It was obvious to me after just a few months of trying that we needed some professional help. I participated in a western dressage clinic and got the assistance of a renowned reigning trainer. Sadly no one other than me was available to ride him the weekend of the evaluations. Evaluation day was a beautiful spring day and we had an unfortunate trailering incident only fifty feet from our driveway. Our yearling colt ducked under the chest partition and was wedged with his face into the front wall. We ended up untying him and he shot out the man door skinning his eye and scraping the inside of one front leg. We decided to load him back on and see how he was when we got there. Other than his scrapes and a bump that came up on his back, he seemed fine. We arrived in good time but rushed to get ready for my riding portion. In the rush, the tightening of the girth was overlooked and within a few steps after my leg up I attempted to straighten the saddle at the same time another stallion snorted loudly from behind the arena wall and my saddle slid. Pleasure was sure he should leave, and the ground and I became close friends as I watched him canter away. (He did look back) After retrieving him from a chute between two paddocks, I repositioned the saddle, tightened the girth and remounted. There was a half mile track for our use as warm up and I took full advantage of it, perhaps maybe a bit too much. After five rounds in different directions and in all three gaits he was certainly warm! They were waving us in

Knowing that this young stallion had a lot of talent and was very trainable, we started him in harness which to date is still his favorite discipline. He amazed the man I hired to give me a hand. Tom has worked for many years with Clydesdales and was in awe of Pleasure’s ability to process all the new things that being harnessed entailed. After only line driving five times, we hooked him to my exercise cart and with Tom at his head we set off. After two times around the ring and a few changes of direction we were solo on the rail and it was obvious this was his deal. He was far more relaxed and confident than I was and it wasn’t long before I started feeling the same way about driving him. He was only broke to harness a few weeks before Vanner Fair and we drove him there to a second place finish. I spent a year gaining enough confidence to perform the driving evaluation and Pleasure had never really taken one wrong step. The day of the evaluation the weather was brisk and he was more horse in between the shafts than usual. After a brief warm up


Breed Evaluations – Their Value & Challenge By:Wayne G Hipsley, BSc, MSc Hipsley and Associates, LLC Lexington, Kentucky

The question is, “What is a breed evaluation?”

Official Conformation and Movement Scores

A breed evaluation is not a horse show, where one horse is compared to another horse. Instead, an evaluation is a process where one horse is assessed for comparison to the breed standard, with one horse being presented at a time, without comparisons to other horses like seen in the in-hand breed classes at a horse show.

The evaluation score sheet has the following areas for assessment: Head – 10 points Neck – 10 points Body – 10 points Forelegs – 10 points Hindlegs – 10 points Walk – 10 points Trot – 10 points Overall Impression – 10 points Breed Type – 20 points

To those unfamiliar with the process used by most European breeds to register and establish the criteria for breeding animals, the breed evaluation is a process whereby a horse is evaluated as an individual, while compared to the official breed standard by a team of evaluators. The official breed evaluations are usually conducted on an annual basis by highly trained and certified individuals that have no personal interest in the breeding of Gypsy Vanner Horses, but are committed to, and dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of the breed. The official breed standards are set by the breed association, Gypsy Vanner Horse Society’s (GVHS) Board of Directors. Through training programs, the evaluators’ learn to apply and use the official breed standard to assess each horse presented for evaluation. The evaluators utilize a standardized score sheet to record their assessment of the anatomical regions and gaits. Beside the numerical scores reported on the score sheet, written notations by the evaluator are recorded to enhance the scores, providing further detailed information on the qualities and weaknesses of the horse. And yes, the owner of the horse receives a copy of this assessment, with one copy going to the GVHS for permanent recording in the horse’s file. Owners are encouraged to ask questions about any aspects of the evaluation score sheet, to assist the owners to improve their personal evaluation skills while guiding them to produce a more perfect horse. The official evaluations are conducted by two independent persons, who have been appointed by the GVHS. The evaluators are to work independently, arriving at their official scores without collaboration on scores. The scores are totaled for each evaluator, and divided by two to arrive at the official score for the horse.


Official evaluations are a proven method whereby all horses within the breed or those seeking approval of the breed society, can be compared to the breed standard. The evaluation score provides: method for horses to be promoted from one studbook to another, 4 Awhen they have met all the criteria required by the GVHS.


A method for breeders to have their foals/offspring evaluated by outside, independent persons to assist in the assessment of the breeder’s accomplishments to produce a quality Gypsy Vanner Horse. A method for stallion owners to obtain the numerical scores on

4 their stallions, and use these scores to advertise and promote their stallion’s qualities for solicitation of stallion services.

method to advertise and promote any mares and geldings to 4 Ademonstrate the qualities and strengths of a breeding farm.


A method for young stock, under 3 years of age, to be assessed for their potential as a breeding prospect or a recreational riding or driving animal. A method of studbook entry for horses whose ancestry is unknown,

4 but their origins are known, once all the criteria for registration are fulfilled.

method for a breeder and owner to have an assessment on the 4 Apotential uses of the horse, either as a riding or driving horse.

Many breed societies have utilized the evaluation system to assist persons new to horses to gain further information about the breed and to assist them in the breeding of quality offspring.

Performance Tests

To advance beyond the assessment of a horse’s conformation and movement, the GVHS has added the opportunity for participation in official evaluation performance tests. Once the horse as satisfactorily completed the conformation and movement evaluation, the horse may than participate in different performance divisions to demonstrate the horse’s qualities and trainability. The horses are eligible to be evaluated as English, Western and/or Driving horses. The performance tests are similar to a dressage test, however, the evaluators are seeking to determine the horse’s quality of gaits, aptitude, responsiveness, suppleness, impulsion, and willingness to work in partnership with man. There are specific patterns to be ridden or driven, with maneuvers to test the horse’s agility and flexibility, all the while remembering the horse is being evaluated and not the rider or driver. Errors by the rider or driver can be forgiven if the horse demonstrates its willingness to perform, but not if the horse will not or cannot accomplish the task or maneuver. Precision in the introductory tests is not as important as in the advanced level performance tests. Once again, the results of the performance tests are reported on an official score sheet by two independent evaluators. The official evaluators are encouraged to write comments about the horse’s performance, and make recommendations on the horse’s future training. The performance test is not a dressage or reining test, nor any other show ring competition. The breed type, the acceptable style of performance as related to the horse’s conformation must

be taken into consideration as the scores are determined and the comments written. In these performance tests, ‘form to function’ becomes the paramount consideration. The conformation of the Gypsy Vanner Horse will determine the type and style of performance ability of the horse. The scores from the performance evaluation can be excellent methods to use for advertising and promoting a horse for sale. The scores indicate the areas of assessment that are generally ignored or missed in the show ring. The scores indicate to the potential buyer, the qualities of the gaits, movement and training of the horse by the independent ‘eye’ of the evaluator. In both the conformation and performance section, prior training of the horse does enter into consideration. A horse is expected to be presented in-hand, on the lead, at a walk and trot on the triangle, and to stand quietly for inspection. In the introductory performance classes, the horse is expected to perform the gaits and maneuvers in a positive, willing manner. The untrained or poorly trained horse will be reflected in the scores, as behavior must be considered as a paramount trait of the breed.


The GVHS Evaluation Program is an important step for the breed society to take as it moves to preserve and protect the Gypsy Vanner Horse in North America. The GVHS feels its evaluation program can support its effort to maintain the quality and investment of the breed as seen in other European breeds. All breeders and owners should contact the GVHS for more information about the Official Breed Evaluations.


The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society Established 1996

Photo by Mark J Barrett


Traditionally, the ‘Battle’ has been attended by teams of; Morgans, Appaloosas, Paints, Pintos, Warmbloods, Canadians, Saddlebreds, Arabs, Shetlands, and even Mules. For the first time in the history of the TELUS Battle of the Breeds, Spruce Meadows has granted it’s approval for Team Gypsy Vanner to be included amongst those competing for the ‘Breed’ Title. The trick to succeeding in this competition is not just to have a good horse, but to have a horse that is good at everything! During the Compulsory Skills, 2 horses from each team are required to complete a judged pattern - One horse/rider is scored on their basic skills under saddle (english or western) and the other demonstrates those basic skills in harness. In the Jeopardy Jumping portion of the competition, two horses from each team are required to navigate a jumping course with jumps ranging in height from 2’ - 4’ with the option of a 100 point, imposing bonus jump. Precision Driving is a driven course where 20 obstacles are given a point value and two drivers each negotiate as many obstacles as possible to gain the most points. The Trail Riding portion of the competition involves (as it does in Precision Driving), a number of obstacles with point values, and two riders from each team negotiate the obstacle course to collect the most points possible for their team. Lastly, two riders from each team compete in a traditional style barrel race and the combined lowest times determine the team placings in the event. The introduction of Team Gypsy Vanner to the traditional lineup of North American horses is sure to draw a lot of attention to this relatively unknown breed! North Fork Gypsy Cobs, along with International trick trainer, and event competitor Jackie Johnson have selected some of the finest and most talented Gypsy Vanners from all over the world to represent the Gypsy Vanner team at Spruce Meadows. The Stallion “Clononeen Tullamore Dew (Tully)” originates from Irish bloodlines and has vast experience in Western Canada’s, Mane Event, Equine Expo, Calgary Stampede and Spruce Meadows show venues thanks to Wendy Walker of “North Fork Cash” is a young stallion from English and Irish bloodlines, born in Canada out of the great “Tumbleweed”. North Fork Cash has competed in barrel racing events, and mounted shooting competitions. He has also been shown and used extensively at Mane Event, Equine Expo, Calgary Stampede, as well as having done some simple jumps on the grounds at Spruce Meadows. “Clononeen Bliss” has not only passed on her jumping talents to her son Cash, but has shown at both Mane Event and Calgary Stampede after being imported from England. “Rolling Thunder Bailey” comes to the team short list after being found in the USA. “Bailey” has displayed her aptitude for jumping and trail, and has also shown at Mane Event, Calgary Stampede, Equine Expo, and Spruce Meadows. Lastly, Cash’s 1/2 brother “North Fork Orion” comes to the team short list with driving and showing experience equal to that of his big brother. These fine horses, combined with a team of dedicated riders, and under the training and direction of Jackie Johnson of, will go into intensive training and preparation to see who makes the final cut, and represents Gypsy Vanners at the 2013 TELUS Battle of the Breeds. Although five well trained, and well bred, horses are being considered for the team, only 4 will make the final cut. TELUS Battle of the Breeds is a collection of events that sounds relatively ‘easy’ on paper however, the reality of the competition is anything but easy. The pressure will be on Jackie Johnson to prepare and train both the horses, and the riders for what they are about to experience. “This is a competition that challenges the skills and abilities of even the most accomplished horse folks,”, says Johnson. “It takes a talented horse to be able to reliably, and safely contribute to the team’s success in ALL disciplines.”. It is a unique breed of horse that can display aptitude in Driving, Trail, Speed events or Jumping and it’s a unique horse of that breed who can demonstrate competitive ability in ALL of the events. This is where “Battle” brings out the best of the best. To be able to have one horse compete well in the morning driving competition, and then switch gears for the afternoon and compete at Barrel Racing, and THEN go clear through a lengthy course of 3 ‘ oxers and verticals the next day is how “Battle” separates the competitors from the winners. Even though all horses are being coached and trained in all disciplines, the final selection of Team Gypsy Vanner will be determined once Tully, Bliss, Bailey, Cash and Orion prove how well they can perform to competitive standards, in all disciplines.

Many questions and much speculation still surrounds the Gypsy Vanner breed, which is relatively new in North America, with the most frequent question being “what can they do?”“We have searched the world over, and this team of Gypsy Vanners has been selected with the assistance of North Fork Gypsy Cobs, to show the general public that Gypsy Vanners are more than just a pretty face”, explains Johnson, “With breeding stock establishing itself on the continent, the next challenge of the Gypsy Vanner market is showing what these horses are capable of doing.”. There is much documentation on the Gypsy Vanner ability to perform in jumping, driving, and performance events however, many serious competitors need to ‘see it to believe it’ before investing in the breed for either themselves, or their families. It’s one thing to see a picture, and claims on paper of what a horse or breed is capable of doing, but it’s quite another to be standing in the most respected equine venue in the world, and seeing for ones self what a living, breathing Gypsy Vanner (times 4) is capable of doing throughout all noted disciplines. “As we debut Gypsy Vanners at this event, we will be under the close scrutiny of Spruce Meadows officials, Battle organizers, media outlets, and the general public (most of whom have never even seen a living Gypsy Vanner), and when you’re the unknown breed, proving yourself as a safe, and reliable breed as well as a talented breed is a big job. “The job is much larger when you’re both an unknown, and an underdog.” explains Johnson. With the pressure of competition plus the added pressure of being new, and operating under a bit of a microscope, Johnson has encouraged the Gypsy Vanner team members and horses to not worry about their overall standings in the competition their debut year, and instead wants the team to be more focused on absorbing the whole Battle of the Breeds experience. This is the year that Team Gypsy Vanner will answer that most common question, ‘What can they do?’ Johnson also stresses that it’s important for both horses and riders to have fun. “This year, I just want the team to get their bearings, put in a safe show, address any questions that people may have, and reinforce the reputation of the Gypsy Vanner as the safe, enjoyable, capable breed that we know it to be”. As well as being closely scrutinized, the Gypsy Vanner team has accountability to The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society, North Fork Gypsy Cobs, and all Gypsy Vanner breeders in North America “ there is no pressure”, laughs Johnson. The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society has been phenomenally generous in its financial sponsorship of the team, as well the GVHS has provided team backing and entry approval to the Spruce Meadows event as the Gypsy Vanner breed association. “The team works hard to ensure that we represent the Gypsy Vanner breed, but sponsorships and support are what get us off the ground”, stresses Johnson. More appropriately, the sponsorships are what get the team on the road to Spruce. “Entry fees, transportation, accommodations.... it all adds up to a few thousand dollars”, says Johnson. “and that’s not counting the time and dedication to practices, training, harness, saddles, equipment, vehicles etc., etc., We just couldn’t represent this fantastic breed without our sponsors.” The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society backs the team’s entry by contributing sponsorship towards the team’s entry fees. North Fork Gypsy Cobs and have donated tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of horses, equipment and use of trucks and trailers in order to make up, train, and move the Gypsy Vanner Team. Further sponsorships to assist Team Gypsy Vanner are being sought. It’s one thing to have an idea of a Gypsy Vanner team competing at TELUS Battle of the Breeds, but it takes an army of passionate, dedicated and supportive Gypsy Vanner enthusiasts to see that idea become a reality, and when the final selection of Tully, Bliss, Bailey, Cash and Orion steps onto the Battle grounds at Spruce, they will bring to life the legend, the history, the magic and the versatility of the Gypsy Vanner horse. To follow the training and progress of Team Gypsy Vanner sign up to receive “The Vanner Banner” newsletter, or get live updates by liking the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society on Facebook. To watch the team compete live, plan to attend TELUS Battle of the Breeds at Spruce Meadows on Sept 5, 6 and 7th. With enough fan support maybe Team Gypsy Vanner will win the vote of “Fan Favourite”!!



Gypsy Vanner Horse Club By Members of the CGVHC

From its humble beginnings in 2007 with a founding group of just four Ontario farms, the Canadian Gypsy Vanner Horse Club is now over thirty strong with members distributed between Quebec in the east to British Columbia in the west. The mission of the Club is to promote and enjoy the Gypsy Vanner horse, support the mission of the GVHS, and educate others about the breed. While the majority of members are located in southwestern Ontario, the Club provides financial support for members to attend events throughout the country to educate the public about the Gypsy Vanner Horse breed. In 2013, the Club kicked off the year with over 25 members attending an Annual Meeting including seminars on horsemanship and jumping at DeerFields Stables in Palgrave, ON. Already this year, the Club has represented the breed at several events including the Saskatchewan Equine Expo, Can Am Equine Emporium, Orangeville, ON, The Mane Event in Red Deer, AB and Lindsay All About Horses, Lindsay, ON. For the third time in Ontario, GVHS Evaluations were held this May, attracting horses to complete over 20 evaluations. Members are now gearing up for Vanner Fair, to be held September 21-22 at the Orangeville Agricultural Centre in Orangeville, ON. The Vanner Fair organizing Committee decided a new venue was required to


accommodate the anticipated increase in attendance from horse exhibitors. Already, with twice the capacity as in 2011, the stalls are over 80% booked. In October 2012, seven horses representing four farms gathered in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario to participate in the annual Oktoberfest Thanksgiving Day Parade. This is the biggest Thanksgiving Parade in Canada and is televised nationally. We plan to be back at the parade in 2013 with even more participants. The Spirit of the Horse at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, ON has long been a favorite event for member farms to attend to show off their horses and educate the public about the Gypsy Vanner horse breed. The “Royal” is the largest combined indoor agricultural fair and international equestrian competition in the world. This event runs over ten days in November and attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees who come to learn, compete, shop and have a great time with friends and family! In 2012, eight member farms participated with their Gypsy Vanners showcasing the breed’s versatility in western, English, dressage and driving demonstrations. With increasing membership in other regions of Canada the Club hopes to continue to grow in numbers and activities into the future.


shavings you use, the better in their stalls. It will help keep your horse cleaner, especially if the floors are dirt or red clay. If the floors are concrete the extra shavings will act as a cushion. As my trainer says, if I have to ask if there are enough shavings the answer is no. TO CLIP OR NOT TO CLIP There always seems to be an ongoing debate within the Gypsy show community whether to clip your horse or not. To me whether you clip or don’t clip your horse is an individual choice. That being said many of the judges that are used at Gypsy shows are judges of various different breeds of horses, not just Gypsy Vanners, therefore they are not used to so much “hair.” Some of the judges that I have spoken with regarding this issue have shared if you have a horse that is clipped and a horse that is unclipped, the judges have to judge by what they can see. No judge will penalize you if you chose not to clip your horse; however, if a judge cannot accurately see the jaw line or throat latch of a horse compared to one that they can see because it is clipped, they will go by what they can see. This can also vary, depending on which shows you go to and what discipline you show in. In dressage, we do clip a small bridle path to keep the bridle in place. Many people also choose to clip their horses, or not, due to the climate where they live. In the showing arena, whether you choose to clip or not, I think the most important thing is that you present a clean, neatly turned out horse. ATTIRE AND TACK Another important component of showing is looking and presenting both your horse and yourself in the best light. This does not mean you have to show with the most expensive saddle or riding attire money can buy. It means showing up dressed appropriately for the discipline you are in and that your tack is clean and in good working condition. I cannot afford, nor do I have a $5000 dressage saddle. What I do have is a very clean and well maintained Wintec Dressage saddle. Having and wearing all the bling stuff is fine, but it is not necessary to win in the show arena. On the other hand, showing in a t-shirt/ tank top, ripped jeans and a baseball cap will probably not get you the blue ribbon either and may even get you disqualified depending on the judge. Always, check the rules for a particular class or division at the show to make sure your attire and tack meet the standards and criteria set forth.

IN CLOSING I would like to share one of the best pieces of advice I have ever gotten. When I first started showing at the “big” Gypsy shows, I would get very nervous before going into the classes. Luckily, I have had some wonderful folks mentor me along the way at shows. I will never forget what one very successful trainer shared with me before a big class I was about to go into, where there were lots of spectators and I was very nervous. She said, “Debbie, just remember that everybody who is sitting in those stands watching you ride wishes they were you.” Ever since then I have had a different perspective about showing. For me, especially as an amateur, the most important thing about showing is HAVING FUN. I enjoy every minute I get to be at a show both inside and outside the arena. As most folks know who see me at the shows, I always have a smile on my face. I feel so grateful, blessed and lucky to be able to show and share this amazing breed. No matter if we win or lose at shows, we are all ambassadors for the breed and should act accordingly. If I don’t win in a class I will still smile leaving the gate knowing Phantom and I have done the best we could that day and that we will have another opportunity another day. Remember judging is subjective and the winners are based on who the judge thought was the best horse that day given the standard they used for each class. We all love our horses and in our minds they are all winners, however, do not be discouraged if your horse does not win the first time out. Keep trying and learning. I try to use every show as a learning opportunity to use for the future. Phantom and I have had great success at many shows. We have also had times when we were not as successful, but we continue to try our best. I love showing so for many reasons. I have made wonderful, lifetime friendships. The camaraderie shared by those of us who love our horses and love to show is great. I also love watching Phantom touch people’s lives both young and old alike when they get to pet and touch a horse for the very first time. It reminds me of the first time I petted a horse when I was four years old and dreamed about having a horse of my own to ride and love! Dreams do come true! I look at showing my Gypsy Vanner as a wonderful privilege and hope to encourage all amateurs out there, who are not sure they can do it, to give it a try - you will never know until you do!

Make sure your halter, saddle, saddle pad and bridle fit well and look good on your horse. Just because we think something looks cute doesn’t mean that it shows your horse off to their best advantage. If you are in a halter class, make sure the halter fits properly to show the head and jaw line off in the best way possible. I prefer a good quality leather halter and leather lead. In under saddle, make sure that not only does your saddle fit your horse properly, but that the blanket/pad and girth are clean and go well with your horse. If you use a white pad, as many of us do in English classes, make sure your horse is very clean and well groomed, if part of their coat is white, and not very clean, it will stand out and not in a good way, SHOW TIME- AT THE GATE AND IN THE CLASS First of all, be prompt. The show will go on without you! Be ready at the arena gate prior to the class. I always try and bring a clean towel and brush for last minute touch-ups outside the gate. Before the class starts, make sure that you give your name to the gate attendant for the class you are entered in when they ask for it. Always make sure you have your entry number on and if you are showing more than one horse make sure it is the correct number. When your class is called, enter the arena and proceed as directed by the ring steward. At this point, I could go on and on at length about what to do in the actual show arena when in a class, the strategies involved, etc., but obviously this article is not long enough to go over everything you need to know about showing. You will have to learn many of those lessons first hand. One point to remember in the show ring is do not talk to a judge during a class, without first being addressed by the judge. If a judge does speak to you, always be polite and respectful. Address them properly as your honor or madam/sir judge. Also, remember whether win or lose make sure you always demonstrate good sportsmanship when exiting the class. When you are at the show, make sure you take the time to talk to lots of folks while there. Learn as much as you can. Most of us at horse shows, whether amateurs or professionals, love to talk about horses and showing horses. Don’t be afraid to come up to us and ask questions. We have all been to our first shows and understand what that is like. When I was new to showing I went around and tried to meet as many show folks as I could. I was in awe of some of the big barns and their setups. I also found, that big or small, almost everyone at the different barns I talked with was willing to offer advice, suggestions and help if I needed it.


Building a Perfect World for Horses One Person at a Time Joe Mangravito A Perfect Horse Ranch by Shelley L. Patterson Joe Mangravito is a horse trainer certified in the John Lyons method of Gentle Persuasion. He “fixes” horses. Recently, Joe received a call from a woman asking for help with her horse that had six trainers within a year. The last had her ankle shattered and they advised her “to get rid of the horse.” Joe changed the horses life in one lesson. He plans to bring that knowledge and experience to the Gypsy Vanner World.

found that all of the breeds were about the same until he started working with Gypsy Vanner horses. Joe claims that their disposition and demeanor are clearly different than that of other breeds. He says, “Working with Gypsy Vanners has been an enlightening experience. Although I find every horse enjoyable to work with, I have developed a special love for these horses.”

Joe Mangravito retired from the New York Fire Department in 1990 and decided to turn a passion into a career. Joe took his years of experience on a Montana horse ranch, his studies of animal behavior, and his devotion to the methods of horse training developed by John Lyons to become a horse trainer specializing in Gypsy Vanners. Joe continues to save and change lives but in a different way.

Joe was introduced to Gypsy Vanner horses by a gentleman who requested one lesson for his horse. This man was adamant that he would not allow anyone to treat his horse harshly. He explained that he loved his horse and would sooner never show, or ride her, if it meant mistreating her. Understanding that he must have had prior bad experiences, Joe began working with the 2 year old filly who seemed not to have any training. He also noted how quickly she learned and the client watched in amazement. The client later mentioned that he had another trainer for a year, and that he did not achieve as much as Joe in that one session.

Joe has an almost supernatural ability to fix problems that horses have had for years. He has helped many horse owners that have been told their horse could not be trained. Joe has worked all over the world with a variety of breeds but he has found that Gypsy Vanner horses respond even greater to gentle handling, including the stallions that he has trained and started. In regards to his training philosophy, Joe says, “Any horse with any problem can be worked with effectively in a gentle way...the key is not to break the horse’s spirit, but rather to become part of it. My goal is to take my ability to understand and communicate with the horses and show the owner how to do the same. Helping the owner and the horse to understand each other and to subsequently see the deepening of their relationship brings me great joy.” In 2011, Joe discovered an even greater joy as he began donating his services to the South Florida SPCA, a horse rescue in Miami, Florida. Joe was the trainer of an equine rehabilitation team organized by Shelley Patterson, Volunteer Director of the organization from 2007 to 2012. Joe trained the rescued horses and more importantly, taught the volunteers to safely work with and handle the horses who had suffered abuse, abandonment and neglect. Joe says, “These were some of the most traumatized horses I had met. Many of them were thought to be unfixable. It was my favorite and most rewarding place to work.” Joe’s generosity, knowledge, experience, confidence and compassion were a positive influence on everyone at the organization which greatly improved the welfare of the horses and saved several lives. Although the rehabilitation team left the organization in November 2012, Joe continues to meet with its members at his home, A Perfect Horse Ranch, on a monthly basis. Joe teaches the team to work with troubled horses and to understand the principles of the John Lyon’s method of Gentle Persuasion. The members use these skills in various non-profit programs and with other horses to continue spreading these gentle techniques and to become a positive influence for other horse owners. The team’s favorite training horse is Joe’s Gypsy Vanner, Tali’s Royal Ronan (a.k.a. Ronan). Ronan has been beneficial to the training program because anyone can work with him regardless of their experience or skill level. Joe has trained many breeds of horses in a variety of disciplines from pleasure to Grand Prix. The owners would always claim that their breed was the best or the smartest but he


That Gypsy Vanner horse’s name is WR Sundance. Sundance brought Joe together with Gordon, Michelle and Amanda Muir. They are more than his clients, they are his friends, extended family and sometimes, his competition. After their first meeting, Joe began working with Sundance and the client’s 10-year-old daughter, Amanda Muir. Two months later, in her first show, Amanda and her 2 year-old filly, Sundance, were awarded 14 ribbons, 9 of them blue, all in hand. After that, Amanda showed at every feathered horse show she could find, and never received less than 18 ribbons. At the National Feathered Horse Show she was awarded 24 ribbons, and won youth high point of the year for two consecutive years. As rewarding as the ribbons are, Joe states that they don’t compare to the happiness that Sundance has brought him. Joe says, “When I look into Sundance’s eyes, I am sure she knows what she has given to me. I have worked with a lot of Gypsy Vanner horses, but Sundance will always have a special place in my heart.” Joe’s goal is to promote Gypsy Vanners so others can experience the joy and satisfaction that this special breed has brought to him. As a trainer, Joe plans to use Gypsy Vanner horses to teach horse owners about Gentle Persuasion and that these positive and gentle training techniques can be used successfully. Joe states, “There is not a contraption in the world or any harsh method that can get a horse to do what we can do with a snaffle bit or a halter, and in a fraction of the time.” Joe states that this method has always worked with every horse he has encountered, including the traumatized horses at the SPCA. Joe proposes that horse owners and trainers abandon shank chains, harsh bits and striking or hitting a horse to achieve goals and replace them with snaffle bits and Gentle Persuasion training. If Joe is as successful in replacing these unwanted human behaviors with wanted behaviors, as he is in applying that technique to horses, it will be a better world for all. Joe offers free clinics at his home, A Perfect Horse Ranch, in Southwest Ranches, Florida. Joe trains horses in a variety of disciplines. He offers a certification program for horse trainers and private lessons to help horse owners learn to work with their horses in a gentle, effective and satisfying manner. Joe often offers free clinics the day before feathered horse shows to help share this gentle training and to teach people that harsh methods are not necessary with these, or any, horses.

A few Vanner Health Tips from Aunt Fannie Vanner

A few Vanner grooming and health tips from Aunt Fannie Vanner Whinnnnnnnie, (Greetings from Aunt Fannie), Ah spa time…..bathing and grooming! A good friend shared a few grooming tips to help my folks cut their grooming time down considerably, I’d love to share it with you. A great pick for shampoo and conditioner is from Premier Equine Products called Nature’s Clean and Rose’ Conditioner along with a rice root brush gets me in tip top show shape in no time at all. The shampoo does a wonderful job of lifting any dirt and debris to give a sparkle and shine to white and deepens colors. The Rose’ spray and leave in conditioner along with the rice root brush conditions down to the hair follicle making my mane, tail, feathers and coat even more beautiful. Now that I’m totally beautiful, I am ready for my interview with an equine veterinarian about pastern dermatitis, which I call scratches because that’s what I do sometimes, scratch on anything available. He explained to me that there are two possible causes of this condition which affects our lovely feather, fungus/ bacteria or mites. First to tackle the fungus/bacteria, he recommended clipping the feather below the fetlock and above the hoof of the affected foot. Wash the area with chlorhexdine shampoo or scrub to remove dirt and scabs for 4 or 5 days in a row and keep me in a dry area. Keeping my legs free from moisture and dirt that can matt the hair together is very helpful. This can be done by routine cleaning with a medicated shampoo. A good feed through product which works in conjunction with the cleansing routine is NuFoot Vet Formula which has anti-fungal properties in the blend, it definitely works for me. Next question, what to do about those pesky mites? Those pests love our lovely feather and can be also referred to as chorioptic mange. The mites irritate our skin and the resulting serum ooze dries to crusts and scabs. The itching lesions do not spread rapidly or extensively but often become worse in autumn and winter. If infested we bite, scratch and stamp especially at night. Your vet can identify if mites are the problem by skin scrapings. Usually Ivermectin is given at a dose of one full tube (1250# dose) by mouth once weekly for 4 doses. Treatment may have to be repeated as failure to eliminate completely is common. Moxidectin may also be used however dosing must be more accurate based on body weight. Wash the legs and body thoroughly with Selsun blue shampoo (Selenium Sulfide) followed by Lyme Sulfur (Lym Dyp) diluted at a rate of 6 oz per gallon and sponged or thoroughly sprayed to the skin level once every five days for one month. Make sure to soak the legs all the way up to where they meet the body,


especially the hind legs, ensuring the inside of the legs are treated also. Some folks have tried Dectomax with no ill effects and it worked, although it hasn’t been FDA approved in the U.S.A, it is used extensively throughout the world. It is commonly used for cattle, pigs, goats and dogs but equine trials are quite expensive which may be the hold up here in the states. Mallenders and Sallenders….jumping horse feathers, does this sound like some kind of reptile? Neigh it isn’t, but have you ever wondered what that dry crusty stuff is on the back of our knees? Mallenders is the scurfy, crusty skin condition that occurs on the back of the knee, and sallenders is what it is called when it occurs on the rear leg. It is a scaly itch, a form of psoriasis. Often seen in feathered breeds and very commonly seen on Gypsy Vanners. A high percentage of mature Vanners will have a spot or more of mallenders occur at some time in their life. Sallenders, occurring on the front of the rear legs is seen less often. This mostly harmless skin condition usually can look crusty, build up and flake off often taking some of the hair with it. This condition is normally not painful or bothersome to us, although some of us may reject your attempt to treat the condition simply because the scabbing and pulling can be painful…ouch. It seems as with many conditions some of us Vanners are more prone to it than others. These conditions shouldn’t be confused with mites, mean little devils which make camp in our feathers, also don’t confuse with scratches which is located on the fetlocks above the hoof. Some of us beauties can have this scaly condition and seem none the worse. Should your person notice an occurrence, it is best to treat it or at least try to keep it at bay. The resulting sores under the scabs can become painful or infected if chronic and ignored. To treat, use a mineral oil to soften and release the scales. Often a mineral oil product containing sulfur is very effective. Wash the area with a mild soap and water. When dry apply a zinc oxide cream. As with any psoriasis complete elimination is rare and though it is a benign condition it often bothers our owners more than we Vanners. As always check with your own local veterinarian for any condition you may suspect is troubling your Vanner and follow his advice. Aunt Fannie extends special thanks to Mrs. Felicia Britt for the grooming tips, Dr. Damon Odom DVM for the pastern dermatitis info, Mrs. Anne Crowley for the info on mites and Mrs. Barb Snyder for the info on mallenders and sallenders. The GVHS is not responsible for any liability or opinion expressed in this article. If you have questions or tips to share please send an email to Aunt Fannie Vanner at our email address of Till Then, Trot On...

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Gvhs lr 0613  

First ever publication created exclusively to celebrate the Gypsy Vanner horse and everything that makes them unique.

Gvhs lr 0613  

First ever publication created exclusively to celebrate the Gypsy Vanner horse and everything that makes them unique.