Gypsy Vanner Horse Society - The Vanner

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Official 2014 Publication of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society

Defining the

Vanner Breed

Fairyt ale

Worthy Photos


Vanner Versatility

POWER. STRENGTH. BEAUTY. - a serious breeding program with core values -


2014 GVHS Officers Michael Litz - President 2827 Weckerly Drive Monclova, OH 43542 ————————— Jane Howard – Vice President 3428 Fieldstone Path The Villages, FL 32163 —————————Katherine Mutti Executive Director 6019 4th Line East Ariss, Ontario N0B 1B0 ————————— Terri Martel – Secretary P.O. Box 751Sulfur, LA 70664 ————————— Kim Kramar -Treasurer 5191 N. Chester Rd. Charlotte, MI 48813 —————————– Barbara Snyder – Registrar P.O. Box 65 Waynesfield, OH 45896

GVHS Board Members Rita Susgin Vanner Manor 942 Buchner Rd Welland, ON Canada L3B 5N4 (905) 892-7034 Term expires 12/31/2014 —————————– Joyce Christian GVHS Region 7 1710 Hwy 80E Calhoun, LA 71225 Term expires 12/31/2014 ————————— Michael Litz GVHS Region 3 2827 Weckerly Drive Monclova, OH 43542 Term expires 12/31/2015 ————————— Debbie Noonan GVHS Region 1 39901 Bayview Drive Lady Lake, FL 32159 Term expires 12/31/2016

The Vanner magazine is published by and is the property of The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. P.O. Box 65 Waynesfield, OH 45896 The Vanner Magazine makes every effort to provide accurate information in advertising and editorial content, however, does not make any claims as to accuracy of information provided by advertisers or editorial contributors and accepts no responsibility or liability for inaccurate information.

Jamie Sharp GVHS Region 7 PO Box 3897 Pagosa Springs, CO 81147 Term expires 12/31/2014 —————————— David Riedel GVHS Region 3 6284 Greenwich Rd. Seville, OH 44273 Term expires 12/31/2016 —————————— Terri Martel GVHS Region 7 PO Box 751 Sulphur, LA 70664 Term expires 12/31/2015

For information on how to submit story ideas, concerns or information on how to advertise, please contact

The GVHS office 1-888-520-9777

Letter from the Editor

Dear GVHS Members, As I begin this letter I am filled with a feeling of genuine happiness. Our first issue of The Vanner was a success. Our very own publication has become a reality thanks to all of you. Your GVHS Board, Executive Team, and Communications Committee worked together on this project, yet we could not have done it without your advertising and amazing stories. We hope that The Vanner will continue to be a tool for you as a breeder and/or owner and enthusiast to help those you meet learn about the horse that has captured your undivided attention. In this issue our focus returns to our beloved breed’s roots and showcases it as “the perfect horse to pull a caravan”. At the same time we share with pride the amazing versatility it has exhibited as American owners have introduced Vanners to multiple disciplines over the last seventeen years with undeniable success. During the last two decades this breed has been introduced to the world for the first time; has grown in popularity; and continues to generate followings wherever they go. The Gypsy Vanner Horse and the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society have a rich history that is continuing to unfold. Our owners and breeders are writing that history even now. I continue to be astonished at just how many people have never seen or even know that this breed exists. Even in the age of social media and the internet we still are relatively unknown. With that shared I want to encourage you to get out and about with your Vanners, spread the word, there is a new breed in town! For those of you just discovering the Gypsy Vanner Horse then I invite you to join with us on this incredible journey and, “Come share the dream with us!” Sincerely, Joyce M. Christian Editor We invite you to write to The Vanner Editor and share your comments and/or questions. We want to hear from you! Send emails to: 04


Mission & Goals

Mission & Goals Statement 08 Words to grow by

Tribute to Cushti Bok 09 Saying good-bye to a dear friend

USDF All Breed Awards Program 10 United States Dressage Federation

USDF All Breed Winners 11

Gypsy Vanner Horses are competitive

The Gypsy Vanner’s Impact 14 GVHS Annual Meeting 17


Katherine Mutti


Defining the Vanner Breed

History of the Gypsy Vanner 20 A Passion for Pedigree 23 Editor, Joyce M. Christian

Those Vanner Words 28 Jamie Sharp

GVHS Registration Information 30 Registrar, Barbara Snyder

GVHS Breed Evaluations 32 Katherine Mutti



Driving the Gypsy Vanner

Cover Spotlight 36 Editor, Joyce M. Christian

A Driving Story 38 Adam Murfield

Starting a Gypsy Vanner 42 Carol Dunbar

Driving Must be In My Genes 44 Gale Totton Rempel

Dreams Come True 46 Sylvia Bieler

A Cinderella Story 48 Joyce M. Christian


IV Celebrating GVHS Youth

Vanner Health

One Family’s Perspective 52 The Muir Family

Journey of DeJay Matthews 54 Deerinwater Farms

Debbie Noonan

GVHS Youth Initiatives 58 Katherine Mutti

GVHS Youth Winners 59


112 To Geld or Not to Geld

Robin Visceglia

114 Helping your Vanner Survive Founder

Special Talents 56

Ginger Green

117 Grooming Tips & Hints

Samantha VanSickle

121 Aunt Fannie Vanner

GVHS In Canada

Vanner Fair 64 Jim Wilson

TELUS Battle of the Breeds

Jackie Johnson


The Vanner Girls 70

Shyla, Kendra, Shannon & Kaitlyn


Performance & Versatility

Photo Contest Winners 74 Easter Seals 80 Samantha VanSickle

Art of Presentation 82 Samantha Vansickle


The Versatile Vanner 84 An introduction


Jane Howard

The Vanner & Dressage 86 Gillian Muir

Award Sculptor 89 June Brown

Truly Versatile Vanner 90 Ron Chauvin

GVHS Show High Point Awards 94 GVHS Vanner Advantage Awards 104 06



the Registry

mission & Goals


Mission and Goals

of The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society “It is the mission of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society to respect, the spoken words of Gypsies who have dedicated lifetimes in the pursuit of breeding the perfect caravan horse…the Gypsy Vanner. The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society’s mission is to bring honor, recognition, and a better understanding to one of the world’s most colorful and least understood societies and the horses they love so dearly. This registry was established to protect a vision that was born over half a century ago to create the perfect horse to pull their colorful caravans. A perfect caravan horse is strong, intelligent, docile, athletic, and colorful and has excellent endurance. These same traits make this breed well suited for any number of pursuits.

The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society remains quality based, culturally sensitive and socially responsible in the pursuit of our dream. Come share the dream with us!

Goals of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society :

GEstablish the breed with the look envisioned by the Gypsies. GEstablish the breed with the genetics that created the look. GEstablish the breed with the feelings of the status and pride that Gypsies feel for their selectively bred horse. 08 Establish the breed in parallel to the values that Gypsies place on their selectively bred horses. 08 G

Tri buteto Cushti Bok A


1992 – 2014 (GV00001F)

ho could have known a glance at a horse running in a field would lead to the recognition and protection of an unknown and rare breed? Cindy Thompson would ask her husband, Dennis, to turn around and go back for a closer look. Stepping out of the car and closing the doors would alert the stallion’s attention, rather than the typical fright and flight – he ran to them! Already he was like no other horse they had ever encountered.

For the Gypsy Vanner Horse breed there was one horse that started the ball rolling to introduce these incredible animals to the world – that one horse was Cushti Bok. He was the model for the GVHS logo, no matter where his image is found whether in calendars, on boxes of Luck and Love Horse Treats, or gracing the cover of the very first issue of The Vanner magazine , our attention is drawn to it – he doesn’t look real – he must be right out of a fairytale – and yet…..

Recalling that special moment Dennis Thompson has said, “There was magic in the air!” This beautiful and unusual stallion won them over and they would spend the next four years of their lives tracing his heritage and uncovering the breed he would become the symbol of – the Gypsy Vanner Horse.

He was real; he was here; he stepped out of a Gypsy man’s dream and into the heart of Cindy Thompson, who from that first glance saw his value and along with her husband, Dennis took the steps to honor this breed and to give us all the chance to see and experience, the one, the only, the GVHS’ number one ………our beloved Cushti Bok.

He arrived in America on Easter Sunday 1997 and his legacy began. The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society registry opened its books with horse number one – GV00001F – the stallion, Cushti Bok.

While he left us quietly in the night, he lives on in the flick of a tail, a toss of a mane, a lowering of the head made by his sons and daughters. In those tiny antics for just a moment we see him again, we smile, he is not gone – he lives on. We will miss you Bok, but we will never forget you, we will with honor guard your legacy and share the beauty you brought us with all who care to...

His home was Gypsy Gold Farm in Ocala, Florida. He was loved and cherished by the Thompsons and all who had the good fortune to see him, get close to him, and to pet him. His breeding career gave us seventy plus offspring to carry on his magic.

“ Come and share t he dream wit h us! ”

USDF All Breed Awards Program By: Katherine Mutti

“Since 2006 the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society has been a Breed Partner with the US Dressage Federation. GVHS Registered horses competing in USDF shows can declare their Registry and qualify to win year end recognition with the USDF All Breed Awards Program. If you are competing with your GHVS horse in USDF shows and have not yet declared with GVHS, you can do so.” Besides driving, the GVHS 2013 Member & Owner’s Survey suggests dressage may be the next most popular show discipline of choice for owners of Gypsy Vanner Horses. Why Dressage? The Dressage levels are set up in order to progressively develop a horse’s flexibility, responsiveness to aids and balance. A horse with these traits will be more pleasurable to ride. When you compete in Dressage you will always be competing against yourself, as well as others taking the test. The main goal in competition is to always improve on your own score. At the same time, a little friendly competition is always fun! This is evidenced by the growing number of Gypsy Vanner Horses declared with the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society under the USDF All Breed Awards Program. In this edition of The Vanner, we wish to recognize and congratulate the 2013 WINNERS under the USDF All Breeds Awards Program! WELL DONE, and we thank you for helping to demonstrate to the equine community that Gypsy Vanner Horses can be competitive and excel in the Dressage discipline!” 10


2013 USDF All Breeds Program Winner

Peperooga’s Parnoo Ori Rider: Sara Bartholomew 1st- AA First Level 1st- AA Second Level 1st- Open First Level Owner: Michelle Nelson-Pawlowski

Riders: Rachel Wade & Sara Bartholomew 1st- Open Second Level Owner: Michelle Nelson-Pawlowski


2013 USDF All Breeds Program Winner

Bommarito Rider: Sandra Northrop (Rider in photo Elizabeth Crowley) 2nd - Open First Level Owner: Anne Crowley


2013 USDF All Breeds Program Winner

Grey Ghost Phantom Riders: Debbie Noonan & Heather Caudill 1st - Training Level Owner: Debbie Noonan


The Gypsy Vanner’s Impact on the Equine Industry in North America A study commissioned by the American Horse Council Federation has recently published a survey stating: The AHC statistics show that California, Florida and Texas have the most ownership of horses and economic impact. The least amount of horses is found in Rhode Island, Hawaii and Delaware. The horse industry is a major economic industry for America resulting in 102 billion to the American economy through direct and indirect expenditures. One may think that racing plays the major role but instead it’s recreational pursuits, (racing - 844,531 vs recreational 3,906,923). Nearly 3 million horses (2,718,954) take part in shows annually. • Horse ownership appeals to different types of people and is not limited to the wealthy. The almost two million American horse owners are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds and demographics. Owners, families and volunteers make up the major share of contributors with employees representing 15% of participants. • Breeding has a direct economic impact on the showing segment producing revenue and creating employment. In the equine industry the economic impact is 2.3 billion with 34,000 full time equivalent jobs.


• The AHC study has found that horse ownership appeals to people of all ages. The most horse owners (41%) are between the ages of 45 and 59. The 30-44 age brackets are the next most significant group with 35% of horses. The youngest demographic 18-29 year olds are steadily moving up owning 16% of all horses in America. The Canadian total economic contribution to their horse industry is well over 19.6 billion based on a 2010 State of the Industry survey: • An estimated 886,500 people are involved in the equine community in Canada with 963,500 horses. • The Canadian horse industry supports more than 154,000 jobs which is equivalent to one full time job for every 6.25 horses. • The industry is trending to more horse owner households with 79,000 more in 2010 than in 2003. • The median age of horse owners is aging and is at the 50-59 age range and 24% of all owners are 60 years old and older. • A key priority for long term industry sustainability and growth will be attracting new participation and revitalizing the customer base.

American Driving Society Annual Meeting September 25-28 in Acadia National Park, Maine

To our generous sponsors for supporting the 2013 ADS Licensed Officials Clinic held at the Grand Oaks Resort & Carriage Museum

Members and Friends Bring your horse and bring a friend, and plan to join us for The American Driving Society’s 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting at Acadia National Park, Maine. The purpose of the meeting is to connect ADS enthusiasts who are involved in all areas of the diverse sport of carriage driving. The Members Meeting is an excellent opportunity to learn from fellow drivers, explore the beautiful surroundings of Acadia and make new friends. the

Attendees are encouraged to bring their equines and will have the opportunity to drive on over 57 miles of carriage roads on 15,000 of pristine acres. The host hotel for the meeting is the Bar Harbor Regency, located in beautiful Bar Harbor, Maine. Agenda, travel information and registration details are available on the ADS website. Please contact the ADS with questions at or (608) 237-7382.

What impact does the Gypsy Vanner make in the equine industry? The breed is fairly new to North America. In 1996 the registry was founded by Cindy and Dennis Thompson. Today the GVHS registry has over 3,200 Gypsy Vanners in North America and is growing. The registry has the genetic base for this breed to flourish and claim its’ place in the economy and hearts of North Americans and worldwide Gypsy Vanner breed enthusiasts. The Gypsy Vanner Horse is steadily gaining ground and providing growth to the economy within the equine industry. A brief of the GVHS Statistics is listed below: Growth in registrations • Through 2010 4-6% each year • During 2011 – 45% • 2012-2013 has been the same as the 2011 level with no decline Growth in transfers • Steady increase year to year • 2013 was 32% more than in 2012 Who is buying now • Breeders are buying to improve their breeding stock • Breeders understand the quality better • Breeders are selling young stock instead of keeping them for breeding purposes • People are looking for older trained geldings • People are looking for brood mares, but they also want them to be trained • Majority of Vanner purchases are people new to the breed The Current Market • Prices are down from the mid frenzy years and have settled closer to the early years. • Breeders have to keep their stock longer, often until training age • Prices – are becoming two different market groups • Low priced (lesser quality?) Is lower price a perception of lower quality? The consensus is not necessarily. One factor may be due to forced lifestyle changes due to the economy at present. • Higher priced (better quality?) The consensus is not always. • Education is the key to understanding quality. • Price is most often due to the motivation of the seller. • The market may be affected more by the cost of keeping a horse than it is by the number available • Certain areas of America are more affected than others due to hay prices (drought) • People can still purchase the horse, but ongoing higher cost of maintenance can affect their choices • When buyers choose a horse it needs to be a Gypsy Vanner because of our breed base and solid programs The Gypsy Vanner Horse market growth potential • Buyers want to replace the breed they currently have with the look and temperament of the Gypsy Vanner. • Baby boomers are coming into the market because of more discretionary income, after child rearing expenses. More time and money for horses. • Celebrity owners • Promotion of Gypsy Vanners in movies, videos, advertising • GVHS and breeders advertise in nontraditional publications • New owners of horses are discovering the breed. By far 16

the most transfers are now to new owners to the breed • Promotion of the Vanners in areas of North America with not as much exposure, sponsorship of regional shows, expos • A rise of interest of the breed in other countries i.e. Australia, Columbia, France, New Zealand

The GVHS Registry • The GVHS provides the products of registrations, programs and other services with potential for growth • Education • Support the breeders and owners (programs, events, awards, advertising) • Gain market share from other registries • Provide excellent customer service • Professionalism • Maintain confidence • Potential for enhancement of existing and new programs • Preferred Breeder Program – Education, Futurity, Evaluations • Youth programs – promotion of more programs geared to increase youth involvement • Gelding incentives - Golden Geldings • Therapy – The Vanner is an excellent prospect for use in these programs The GVHS 2013 Survey Highlights • The number one response of the surveyed membership from the registry was ‘Promote the Gypsy Vanner breed’. How is the registry doing this? • Maintaining the GVHS studbook and online studbook for pedigree research • Education for breeders/owners, judges and evaluators • Sponsorship of shows and expos all across North America • Providing valuable programs such as the annual meeting, awards, futurity, communications, evaluations & advertising

In conclusion are we poised for the future and able to make an impact on the equine industry in North America? A resounding “Yes We Are!”

The 2014 GVHS Annual Meeting By Katherine Mutti

Held this year at the impressive Georgia International Horse Park, in Conyers, GA this meeting was designed to welcome members and non-members alike to participate on their own, or with their horses, in a variety of educational seminars and clinics. The Friday evening Welcome reception held at the meeting hotel featured an impressive hors d’oeuvres buffet with something for everyone. This evening afforded all the opportunity to re-connect with old friends and to meet the many attendees who are new to the GVHS organization and even new to the Gypsy Vanner Horse Breed. With Susan Harris presenting as our feature clinician we attracted several meeting attendees who came to the event just to see her! The challenges of finding the right horse for this demo were rewarded by watching the painting evolve over the 3.5 hours it took to paint every bone and muscle on the horse. Kudos to VV Prince Shandar of Stillwater Farm who tolerated being used as a canvas for Susan’s unique and educational artwork!! He stood, usually patiently, while Susan and often others, poked and prodded to really feel the underlying structure and then painted the multi-colored muscular and black & white skeletal structure on his exterior. Where Susan came across Shandar’s black patches, she improvised, substituting a more opaque paint for the usual watercolors she utilizes. The end result was truly a sight to behold, but having been painted, Shandar’s work was not over. One goal of this demonstration is not only to teach attendees the basic anatomy, but also to show how the anatomy of the horse works in

motion at all gaits. The skeletal system, painted on one side, demonstrates the structure and movement of the body and limbs. On the other side, the colorfully painted major muscle groups show how the “circle of muscles” works to produce good movement and balance. As the horse worked on the lunge line handled by Stillwater’s Daisy Fouts, Susan explained, and it was much easier for attendees to see and understand, the function of the bones and muscles, what causes good and poor movement, and common causes of movement problems. Later in the day, Susan introduced the basics of Centered Riding with Debbie Noonan on Grey Ghost Phantom as the demo horse and rider. Centered Riding is based on a knowledge of human and horse anatomy, balance, movement, and on understanding how the mind affects the body and how both affect the horse. . It teaches a language that allows clearer communication between horse, rider, and instructor. Other clinics and seminars enjoyed by participants over the weekend included something for everyone. GVHS Evaluators Dave Ayers, Heather Caudill, Grace Greenlee and David Riedel conducted a seminar discussing the in-depth review of each horse that is done for the Conformation-Movement and Performance Evaluations. Their seminar highlighted the recommendations owners should take to prepare themselves and their horses for best presentation during an Evaluation. Participants who would be having their horses evaluated the next day were invited into the

ring to work directly with the Evaluators on the techniques to show the horse to its best potential, both standing and for the movement at a walk and trot sections. Another interactive clinic conducted by Jane Howard, founder of the Red Hats Purple Chaps and current VP of the GVHS along with trainer, Michaella Walker, proved very popular and resulted in many smiles, laughs and horses actually becoming accustomed to and even confident with the various obstacles and noises confronting them. With an obstacle course style setup, the horses were exposed to various sights and noises that horses may encounter during parades or on the trail. Even incorporating footing changes can spook a horse and our intrepid and often very young Gypsy Vanner Horse volunteers braved such intimidating obstacles as a scary mattress crossing during this session! Legendary Dreams’ Adam Murfield demonstrated and explained the steps taken to train a 3-year old Gypsy Vanner gelding to drive. This clinic featured WCF RK Anthem, owned by Laurie MacDuffie who sat proudly beaming in the audience throughout the presentation! Adam and Anthem with assistance from his wife, Monique, walked through the process of training a horse to drive, from ground driving basics to a showready driving horse, emphasizing the steps to begin building a good foundation for driving training with your horse. While her presentation got off to a slow start due to a lack of hot wash water and cool morning temperatures, the show must go on, and Jamie Sharp offered a forum for interested owners to get together to discuss basics of grooming and hair care both for every day and for show preparation. While the volunteer horses didn’t leave this session sparkly white as we would have liked, this ever popular topic of discussion was very valuable as attendees were given the opportunity to discuss the tools, cleaners and practices to achieve clean, comfortable and stunning shiny horses!


Several first time meeting attendees gathered in the meeting space during Saturday afternoon to join Joyce Christian, of Unicorn Spirit Vanners as she presented a talk geared to giving the audience a better understanding of the Gypsy culture and the development and discovery of the Gypsy Vanner Horse as a breed.

Evaluations were started bright and early on Sunday morning and ran concurrently with some further seminars. Daisy Fouts with Amanda Connerton assisting discussed and demonstrated the topic of groundwork for young horses. She presented a common sense approach to establishing yourself as the leader and encouraging the young horses to progressively develop their own confidence in tackling new skills and situations while reinforcing good horse manners. Heather Caudill led a discussion, again with Debbie Noonan on Grey Ghost Phantom as the demo rider & horse, on Dressage as a discipline to (here are those words again!), progressively develop their skills through the levels. Within each level are a series of graduated tests increasing in difficulty through which the horse and rider must progress and move up improving the rhythm, relaxation, connection, impulsion, straightness and collection of the horse-rider pair. Our reception & banquet organizer, Rita Ostrom, outdid herself by ensuring the Saturday evening banquet and fundraising auction exceeded expectations. Her gorgeous top hat centerpieces with a stuffed Vanner in each were a hit! As a special highlight this year, Rita arranged for a post-dinner show by magician-illusionist, Joe Turner, which amazed and astounded most in the audience. The GVHS received many generous donations to our fundraiser this year, and as always, the highlight was the auction of a June Towill Brown sculpture. This year’s sculpture was “Precious Moments” and the successful bidders, Bret and Katie Fisher of Awenasa Farm, were extremely pleased to be taking home this wonderful piece of art! THANK YOU to all CLINICIANS, PRESENTERS, ORGANIZERS & ATTENDEES for making this an educational, fun and memorable weekend! Be sure to hold the date for the 2015 GVHS Annual Meeting to be held Feb 20-22, 2015 at the Grand Oaks Resort and Museum in Weirsdale, FL.

Defining the

Vanner breed 19

Gypsy Vanner Horse Society History In 1996 Dennis and Cindy Thompson established the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. To understand the importance of the Thompsons’ work, and this breed, one must know that hidden behind shrubs and under bridges; amid the indiscriminate breeding practices that had caused the world around the Gypsies to see any horse bred by them as nothing more than trade horses for consumption; a breed had been developed and its story begins here: Founded November 24, 1996, the GVHS is the world’s first registry to recognize a breed of horse developed by the Gypsies of Great Britain/Ireland and the only such registry founded on an in depth study of British/Irish Gypsies and their horses. All breeds result from a crossing of breeds by someone or some culture focused on creating a specific looking horse born from their dreamed image – their vision. Once the ideal horse is achieved and recognized, the basic function of a breed society is to protect, educate about, perpetuate and promote the breed. With our breed and the magic it holds, the opportunity is greater.

Cushti Bok carried the dream of the Gypsy Vanner breed on his magnificent shoulders. Photo courtesy of: Mary Beth Wherry 20


Soon after World War II, a vision was born by the Gypsies of Great Britain to create the perfect caravan horse; “a small Shire, with more feather, more color and a sweeter head” was the goal. Selective breeding continued virtually unknown to the outside world for over half a century until two Americans, Dennis and Cindy Thompson, while traveling through the English countryside, noticed a magical looking horse standing in a field. It was that very horse who became the key to unlocking the heretofore-unknown vision and genetics that created the Gypsies’ “vanner” breed (a horse suitable to pull a caravan). Be it good fortune, good luck or pure Gypsy magic, a passion was born in the Thompson’s to understand the little stallion that captured their attention and stole their hearts. It would take years of research – without the help of the Internet – to learn about this special horse and, just as importantly, the colorful culture, which had created it.

Invited by the stallion’s owner, the Thompsons attended Appleby, (the oldest horse fair for Gypsies in the world) with the sole purpose of developing a better understanding of Gypsies and their horses. For ten days they introduced themselves to every Gypsy who bought or sold a quality looking horse and then documented contact information for later pursuit. The discovery of that one special little stallion and ten days turned a curiosity about Gypsies and their horses into an obsession. – Dennis Thompson, GVHS Co-Founder The Thompsons’ relentless pursuit of knowledge over four calendar years resulted in: • Uncovering the post World War II vision from which the breed was born. • Identifying “Sonny Mays” and “The Coal Horse” – the two foundation stallions that inspired the Vanner breed – as well as much of the influential stock originating from those two. • Identifying the genetics that created the breed: The Shire, Clydesdale, Dales Pony and Friesian. • Tracing the genetic heritage of “Cushti Bok” (the stallion they had discovered) through three countries. Discovering that, as a yearling, Cushti Bok had been “the most highly prized colt in of Great Britain” at the same 300-year-old horse fair where their quest for knowledge began. • Naming the unnamed breed “Gypsy Vanner Horse”. • Documenting the Vanner breed standard based on years of listening to the spoken words of dedicated Gypsy breeders. Respecting the spoken words of Gypsies who have dedicated lifetimes in the pursuit of their dream is a commitment of the GVHS mission contained in its by-laws. • Writing the mission statement of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society • Developing the four goals of the GVHS. • Importing the first two Vanner fillies (Bat and Dolly) November 24th 1996. • Importing the first two Vanner stallions (Cushti Bok and The Gypsy King) Easter Sunday 1997 and Easter Sunday 1998. • Importing a total of fourteen mares and two stallions for the breed’s introduction in June of 1998 at Equitana USA in Louisville Kentucky and on the Internet. All other names and efforts, outside the Gypsy community, to recognize a breed of horse developed by Gypsies throughout the world came after. Please visit us on the web at for important information and ongoing happenings with the Society and its beloved breed, the Gypsy Vanner Horse.




Passion For

Lake Ridge British Sterling son of The Kuchi Stallion and a Wiltshire filly


By Joyce M. Christian

How many of you have ever watched the National Dog Show, or waited impatiently for the bell to ring as the gate released the horses for the running of the Kentucky Derby? If so, you have somewhat of a passion for pedigree. All the dogs at the show and all the horses running in the Derby are purebred animals whose registration papers are highly regarded and sought after. They are the top of the line, the cream of the crop in their particular breeds. To reach this standard of excellence breed organizations had to start at some point in time to recognize and document the animals that were producing much desired traits.


Shogun, son of The Original Kent Horse

Charlie direct son of The UK Roadsweeper

In all such cases humans made the decisions that moved the breeds away from or towards particular traits. Fortunately or unfortunately that continues today. Individuals involved with breed associations and registries have the responsibility for protecting and perpetuating breeds for the future. For the wonderful Thoroughbred that began in the 1690’s with a stallion called The Byerley Turk. He was followed by The Darley Arabian, and finally The Godolphin Arabian. It has been determined that out of some 200 Mediterranean Middle East horses imported to England between 1660 and 1750, only the direct descendants of these three foundation stallions contributed to the breed’s greatness. I believe the study of how other breeds began can be of great help to how the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society protects our beloved breed for the future. The Thoroughbred began with a selective breeding process the formula of which was breeding the best stallions to the best mares, with the proof of superiority and excellence being established on the race track. It was difficult initially to maintain accurate records because the custom was not to name a horse until it had proved its racing ability. Therefore early breeding records were hard to come by and incomplete. However, thanks to a gentleman named James Weatherby, through his own research and by consolidation of a number of privately kept pedigree records, the first volume of the General Stud Book was published. Does any of that sound familiar? It should. We know that a “selective breeding” process led to the development of the horse we know today as the Gypsy Vanner Horse. We also know that there were “no written or official” breeding records maintained. Rather the breeders kept “mental” records of the “great” horses they knew had impacted the development of the breed. Thanks to Dennis and Cindy Thompson’s own four year research and recording of privately known records, we have the beginning of recorded history for the Gypsy Vanner Horse. The beginning of that recorded breeding history began with the establishment of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society in 1996. We have then celebrated eighteen years of breeding “the best stallions to the best mares” and building this rare and beautiful breed. But is that really the beginning? No, the breed was already established when the Thompsons made their discovery. As it was with James Weatherby for the Thoroughbred, so it was with the Thompsons and the Gypsy Vanner. The Thoroughbred was established and all Weatherby did was trace bloodlines and begin to record them. The Thompsons did likewise with the Vanner. They spent four years searching, looking at horses many had never seen because they were hidden, and listening intently to men who had dedicated lifetimes to developing this incredible horse. Many of those men are no longer with us and we owe it to them to continue their legacy. From those


men the Thompsons learned about a horse named Sonny Mays and The Coal Horse. Those names would continue to be repeated as Dennis and Cindy met and discussed the horses with the men behind the horse. Soon it was evident that the selective herds of those dedicated men in many cases were genetically connected to one or both of those stallions. As the Thompsons followed the selective herds and began to identify the “common traits” the horses all possessed, they knew they had discovered a rare unnamed breed. They also knew that it existed only in the selective herds of those few men who had shared the bloodlines they so treasured and whose progeny the Thompsons could not believe were “real”. These prized horses were unlike any horse they had ever seen – like a fairytale come true. So it would be also for the many North Americans who have encountered the breed for the first time over the last eighteen years. While standing at Appleby Fair with Gypsy men whose herds were the envy of their peers, or sitting in their caravans, or by their camp fires, the Thompsons sought to understand the beginnings of this breed. They met men like Roy Evans who owned the stallion that first captured the Thompsons attention, The Log. He would be renamed Cushti Bok and become the first registered Gypsy Vanner Horse. They would meet Tom Price, the breeder who had bred Cushti Bok and whose herd sire was Bok’s sire, The Old Horse of Wales. Their longtime friend and mentor would be Fred Walker, known by his peers as The King of the Coloured Horses. Through these men they would come to know about Patsy McCann. A visit to the McCanns would result in their learning about Romany Rye (The White Horse) and his sire whose picture can be seen on Patsy McCann’s grave. As Dennis Thompson has said he and Cindy were sure they would be able to find “many” stallions who possessed the look they saw in Cushti Bok. Yet, in their search they had found only two others – the McCanns’ wonderful Romany Rye and a young stallion named Bill, owned by Tom Draper. Their search convinced them that the selective herds of a few were the “only” herds producing “the look” and therefore were the “only” horses worthy of being recognized as a breed. Another important fact to keep close was that the selective horses were prized and not initially for sale. Negotiation and waiting became a part of the process of choosing and importing horses to be the foundation for this new breed. In the end the Thompsons were fortunate enough to obtain not only Cushti Bok, but also Tom Draper’s stallion, Bill, who they would rename, The Gypsy King. They would add fourteen mares sired by the stallions they had come to value.

The Original Sixteen – imported to Gypsy Gold Farm by Dennis and Cindy Thompson between 1996 and 1998.

• GV0001 Cushti Bok – stallion the horse that started it all.

Sire : The Old Horse of Wales Dam: Callie

• GV0002 Darby Dolly – mare

A “Dolly” mare is a Gypsy’s favorite mare. Dolly was the first Gypsy Vanner Horse to set foot on American soil. Sire: The Gypsy King Dam: Mary

• GV0003 Bat – mare

Named by Patsy McCann’s son for the image of a bat on her back. Bat was being held back for the McCann’s breeding program; she is the dam of America’s first born, Vanner, the mare, Kuchi.

Chauvani, daughter of Romany Rye

• GV0008 King’s Kaulo Ratti – mare

• GV00013 Imari – mare

Sire: The Gypsy King Dam: Mary

Sire: The Lion King Dam: Bonnie

This beautiful mare with her partner, Jasmine, became the number one tandem driving team in North America in 2001.

• GV0009 Papuza – mare

• GV00014 Gypsy Gold’s Rexi – mare

Sire: Vardo Joe Grandsire: The Lob Eared Horse Dam: Kathleen

Sire: Laddie Dam: Patsy

Sire: Romany Rye (The White Horse) Dam: Pat

• GV0004 Esmeralda – mare

• GV0005 Jasmine – mare

Jasmine is a full sister to Bat. Their dam was one of the McCann’s finest mares called, “Patsy McKinley Mare (Pat)”. Sire: Romany Rye (The White Horse) Dam: Pat

A full sister to Dolly. Kaulo Ratti means black blood or pure blood and was a beautiful weanling filly that led the Thompsons to her sister, Dolly, and their sire, The Gypsy King.

Her name means “doll” in the Gypsies’ language.

• GV00010 Chauvani – mare Her name means “wise woman”.

Sire: Romany Rye (The White Horse) Dam: Marti

• GV00011 Romany’s Ms. Bodi – mare

The most precious thing to a Gypsy man is his horse and the most precious thing to a Gypsy woman is her china. A Gypsy woman’s favorite china pattern is often Old Imari.

She was called the white tail filly by the Gypsy that raised her. Cindy Thompson would name her Rexi for the shape of a dinosaur on her side. Sire: The Gypsy King Dam: UK’s Dolly

• GV00015 King’s Gypsy Princess

mare - her image appears in an equine art exhibit at The Kentucky Horse Park, the beautiful princess of a Queen and a King. Sire: The Gypsy King Dam: Queenie

This beautiful mare was the first adult daughter of Cushti Bok in North America.

“We call her Bodi”, Patsy McCann’s son said to the Thompsons. “What does Bodi mean”, they asked. “You know, she has a beautiful Bodi,” he said as he moved his hands in the shape of a woman’s body.

Sire: Cushti Bok Dam: Rosie

Sire: Romany Rye (The White Horse) Dam: Mattie

Sire: The Gypsy King Dam: Lettie

• GV0007 Shampoo Girl – mare

• GV00012 The Gypsy King – stallion

(My many thanks to Dennis Thompson for the commentary on the original sixteen Gypsy Vanner Horses.)

Sire: Romany Rye (The White Horse) Dam: Rhonda

Sire: The Smiling Horse Dam: The Walking Bank

• GV0006 Cushti Bok Lady – mare

Patsy McCann’s son said to the Thompsons, “ …listen to me Dennis, are you listening to me? Never sell Shampoo Girl…. never sell Shampoo Girl”. The dam of many outstanding Vanners today, we can appreciate the advice given to Dennis and Cindy to retain this mare.

Second stallion in America - his name was Bill – they learned when they first met him. Two years later he would become known as the King for his ability to produce what he is. This wonderful stallion would become the first Breyer model for the Gypsy Vanner breed.

GV00016 Crown Darby – mare Named for the famous china company.

VV Mayacaymus grandson of Latcho Drom and Cushti Bok

These sixteen horses began to lay the foundation for the Gypsy Vanner Breed and have consistently carried on their beauty through wonderful progeny over the last eighteen years. As the Thompsons themselves have stated, they were not able to purchase from all the herds they desired. It was their plan over time to negotiate purchases from the other herds, but they knew this would require patience and waiting. Over the ten years following the introduction of the breed, horses from other respected herds found their way to American shores. Horses from men like Syd Harker, John Pratt, Robert Watson, Henry Conners, and Tom Price. Along with the names of the men, the names of the horses began to surface; horses like Shogun, The Lob Eared Horse, Robert Watson’s Old Horse Lad, Syd’s Good Stallion, Tyson, and The UK Roadsweeper to name a few. Soon people were scurrying to find sons and grandsons, daughters and granddaughters of these horses. Then there was the occasional horse whose progeny were so outstanding the horse became the starting point for its own line. A handful of those stallions have left their mark and become recognized as powerful contributors to the Vanner breed, such as The Old Horse of Wales, The Original Kent Horse, and Latcho Drom, known in England as King Arthur, and eventually imported by Dennis Thompson. While the amazing Thoroughbred’s lineage proved itself on the track; the incredible Vanner lineage is recognized in “the look”, “a set of traits”, and “a performance versatility”, that this writer believes cannot be matched. It does take all three components together to make a great Vanner and as with the Thoroughbred, the lines that are capable of such achievement are very few and can be traced back to “only” the selective herds of stallions and mares whose great, great grandsons and granddaughters continue today to cause heads to turn and consistently give us the “WOW” factor over and over again.



The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society was founded to protect the horses coming from the “selectively bred herds”. This was the gene pool creating “the look” that set this group of horses apart from other horses bred by Gypsies. The Gypsy culture is a culture with an abundant history as horsemen. They breed horses for a variety of purposes and reasons; some to trade and sell; others to keep as family treasures; others to experiment and see what else they can achieve. These individual and cultural passions would create herds of horses that were confusing and continue to confuse the ordinary public when it comes to horses from Gypsies. The Thompsons realized this and recognized the task of lifting a breed from this varied population would not be easy. Yet, they took the initial steps by carefully choosing horses they knew had been selectively bred, were connected genetically to the founding sires and dams the Gypsies themselves admired and in some cases envied. The problem was the number. Were there sufficient numbers of selectively bred horses to begin to establish this horse as a breed? Yes. Could problems arise due to the limited number of pedigreed horses? Yes. According to Dr. Phillip Sponenberg and Dr. Donald Bixby in their book, Managing Breeds For A Secure Future , a breed can be based on type or on genetics. They explain that a phenotype derives from breeding for a specific combination of traits. Once a phenotype is established however, outcrossing can be introduced. Some offspring from such a pairing will maintain the phenotype while others will move away from it. Over time if only focused on breeding horses on phenotype alone without an understanding of a genetic base and a return to that base, the “type” can be lost.

Another problem is a limited genetic base. This certainly was the case in the beginning for the horse that would become the Gypsy Vanner. To achieve these selectively bred herds, Gypsy breeders had line bred their animals. In researching those founding lines we find many such combinations. This is acceptable at the start but to build and grow a healthy breed, breeders must make choices to expand and strengthen that gene pool. The population of horses bred by Gypsies provided a group of horses that would be the perfect complement to the selective herds. What group? When Gypsy breeders were building their selective herds they would do what all good breeders do – they would cull the less desirable horses and move them out to their herds that were bred indiscriminately. Over time as they built their selective herds their indiscriminate herds began to show a clear connection to the selective genetic base. The only problem with these “phenotypically” correct horses was the possibility of having offspring that would not match the parent’s “type”. However, if breeders chose the best of these horses and then bred them back to the genetic base, what would happen? They would increase their chances of getting a phenotypically correct offspring whose genetics would go back to the base of the breed. By making such choices over time a breed would grow, expand its genetic base and broaden that base to promote a healthy breed for the future.

In 2003 under the approval of Co-Founder, Dennis Thompson, the GVHS opened its doors to horses with unknown lineage whose phenotype met the GVHS Breed Standard. To further insure the original expected quality in a horse worthy of the name, Gypsy Vanner, the GVHS established an Evaluation Program and began its operation in 2009. This program gives breeders the opportunity to have horses evaluated against the Breed Standard whether pedigreed or phenotypically correct and acquire knowledge to strengthen and build their individual breeding programs while supporting in every way the foundation that gave us this wonderful breed. The amazing Thoroughbred is one of only a few breeds that has maintained its original intent and quality because it has been protected from human interference by its breed registry. Many other breeds have not been so fortunate; their current herds no longer resemble their original founding ancestors. Why? Because registries are controlled by people; and people change breeds. It is this writer’s desire that the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society will model itself after the Thoroughbred; that its members will have a “passion for pedigree” and stand firm on protecting the bloodlines, the treasured few, who gave us this incredible breed and can continue to do so well into the future. It is my hope that the GVHS continues to build our Evaluation Program and an Education Program that gives our members all the tools they need to “selectively” breed for a healthy and viable Gypsy Vanner Horse future.

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. All photos for this article courtesy of Mark & Jackie Barrett.

Blue Boy - McCann bred stallion in England



Words By: Jamie Sharp

The hoof beats on my heart are for the words. I miss the words; the ones combined into the colorful descriptions of our horses which are unique to this breed. Perhaps they are too misunderstood. Perhaps they are not part of the equine world or the judge’s vernacular. That is fine with me. I think that these words set this horse apart and I don’t want to lose them. For those of you who are new, or even old, to the Vanner please allow me to explain. In 2006 our family went on a road trip and visited some friends in Georgia. We were excited to see them and purchase some of their llamas, our then livestock of choice for over twenty years. Our eleven year old daughter, Kate, had been in contact with their daughter, Katie. She had been telling us about their unusual horses too. We had a great visit and when we learned about Dennis Thompson and his stallion, The Gypsy King, we agreed to take Kate to see them while we were in Florida. We had no idea the journey we were embarking on. Our first sight when we arrived at Gypsy Gold was of the stallion, B.B. King. I have always had and loved black horses but this one was magical. My husband agreed that he was something special too. As Dennis showed us around he used some interesting words to describe the horses. He said that what the Gypsies wanted to see was “sweet heads, rainbow necks, short backs, and apple rumps”. What? I knew the parts of a horse and I had not heard these words before. He explained that the Vanner breed was created by specific Gypsy families using Shires, Clydesdales, and native British pony breeds such as the Dales and Fell ponies. Their goal was to “create a small Shire with more color, more feather and a sweeter head”. Since the larger draft horses really do have long massive heads, and great tall 28

ears, the Gypsies wanted to see something which would be more proportionate in their new horse. As it turned out a “sweet head” is an attractive head but not overly refined like an Arabian’s, or tiny like a pony’s. It should be broad through the forehead with large, soft eyes (Soft eyes have a relaxed, not tense, expression in them.) From muzzle to eyes it is also shorter than the typical draft horse head. These are all very subjective descriptions but as I have seen more and more Vanners, I can tell you the proportion for the head which appeals to me is the one with a shorter, “sweet head” with it’s shorter ears. The point here is that this magical horse was bred to have a “sweet head”. Just knowing that makes me smile. Ok, so what is a “rainbow neck”? This one is easy and you don’t even need to be able to see colors. From where the neck comes out of the horse’s shoulder to the head the neck should be arched, unless it is grazing. Most people are familiar with the powerful, arched neck of a Lipizzaner horse. They actually have “rainbow necks” too but Lipizzaner horses are described as “Baroque in type” instead. Lots of horses have powerful, arched necks especially when they are collected when being ridden. Magical Vanners have “rainbow necks”. Again, it made me smile. “Short back” is relatively straight forward but “apple rumps” threw me for a loop at first. I just did not see it, probably because I was looking at the horse from the side. Dennis had to explain this one. When we stood behind his horses he pointed out that the muscles on either side of their spines were pronounced and that the sides of their hips were wide. The Gypsies, he said, compared this outline to the outline of an apple cut in half from stem to flower end. Suddenly

I got it and saw “apple rumps” everywhere! It made me smile. It is true that “apple rumps” are not common in the healthy horse world. In fact our V.V. Violetta’s “apple rump” caused one saddle maker to caution us that she was dangerously obese. We told him that Vanners were normally like that and he just shook his head. He said that her broad withers would not fit in his saddle trees either and that he could not make a saddle for us. Our magical horse was just not like all the others. I told him that I preferred to ride bareback anyway and I smiled. I guess I understand why “sweet heads, rainbows, and apples” just don’t work for everyone. Some of our horses can be described using these colorful words but certainly not all. For us these characteristics remain part of the goal of our breeding program, subjective or not. Coupled with feather from the knee and hock covering the hooves, thick tails dragging on the ground, forelocks down to their muzzles, heavy manes falling below the neck on both sides, beards and even mustaches, these words describe characteristics which make our Vanners all the more magical in our eyes. I love these words, which are unique to the Vanner, and I hope that you too will start seeing the “sweet heads, rainbows, and apples” in your pasture. I bet it will make you smile.

Members Represent GVHS at 2014 Michigan Horse Expo


very year, the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society sponsors various Expos and events throughout North America where our members proudly represent the GVHS by participating in breed demonstrations and GVHS educational displays. Over three days in March several GVHS members and their horses represented the GVHS on “Stallion Avenue” at the Michigan Horse Expo winning the Mike Roath Memorial Barn Manager’s Award for best display presentation. Congratulations to the team of people who organized and managed this event! Owner: Sarah Gaecke Horse: The Alchemist Owners: Bill & Helene Dieck Horse: WW Prince Carrick the Blue Kim & Mandy Kramar - GVHS Display Representatives Watch for announcements in the GVHS monthly e-newsletter, The Vanner Banner, for news of upcoming events in your area. When people do attend these types of events, additional volunteers, and often horses, are needed. Also note that the GVHS can make display & promotional materials available for approved events. Please enquire with our office.


Need To Know Info... HOW TO REGISTER YOUR HORSE 1. Fill out an application (available online or in print form for mailing) 2. Provide one or more of the following for proof of ownership: • A breeding certificate • Copy of import documents on an imported horse • Copy of the bill of sale 3. Provide photos of the horse (one from each side, front, and rear) The preference is that the photos be emailed to the GVHS, but you can also print them off on regular paper or photo paper and mail them in. 4. Pay the appropriate fee. Note: Other documents or information may be requested. Once your horse has been assigned a registration number you will be contacted with instructions on sending in the DNA sample.

How to take Photos for Registration To register a horse it is required that you send 4 photos of your horse, one from each side, one direct from the front and one direct from the rear. The photos should not be too large so they can be easily emailed and inserted into the GVHS database software system. The photos are used for registration approval and for identification of the horse. The side photos will appear on the registration certificate.


The entire horse is shown from top to bottom, no part of the horse is cut off or obscured in the photos. The horse is standing on a surface that properly shows the feather, not hidden in grass or snow. The horse is standing in a reasonable conformation pose, not grazing. The horse does not have to be show groomed, but should be reasonably clean in order to show the feather and markings.


When registering a more mature horse with a thick long tail, the tail should be held out of the way in the rear photo so that the leg conformation and markings can be seen. The tail could also be braided or tied up. At least one side of the neck should be shown not covered in mane.

Send the original registration certificate, the signed ownership transfer form and the $25 transfer fee to the GVHS office.

File a stallion breeding report with the GVHS office by January 30th each year. Provide a breeding certificate to each mare owner who breeds their mare to your stallion.


The GVHS Stallion Service Sale is in progress. Generous stallion owners have donated breedings to their Gypsy Vanner Stallions in support of the GVHS programs.

If you are a General or Lifetime member of the GVHS, you can post registered Gypsy Vanner Horses for sale for free on the GVHS website for sale page. You can also post your stallion at stud on the registered stallion page. If you are an associate member and want to upgrade your membership just pay the difference in membership dues.

You can purchase a breeding for your mare at 50% or less of the normal stud fee. Find the information and forms to donate a service to your stallion, or to purchase a breeding for your mare using the link on the GVHS website home page.

The GVHS has an online studbook that provides detail searchable information on thousands of horses in the studbooks and horses in their pedigrees. As a member you can purchase an annual subscription for access to this system.



Registered Gypsy Vanner Horses

GVHS Registered Horses by Stud Book

- June 2014

Regular SB - Horses whose sire and dam are already registered in the regular SB.

It’s important to report to the GVHS if you geld a colt or stallion. This data on stallions / geldings may be skewed due to lapse in reporting geldings

Gypsy Vanner Horse Society 5 Year Growth

GVHS Members Registrations Ownership Transfers

Pre SB - Horses age 3 and over whose sire and/or dam can not be qualified by DNA and are approved by the registration committee to comply with breed type per the GVHS breed standard: and horses who can be DNA qualified but the sire is in the Pre SB. Temporary SB - Horses under the age of 3, whose sire ire and/or dam can not be qualified by DNA and are approved by the registration committee to comply with breed type per the GVHS breed standard. At age 3 these horses can apply for permanent registration.

Registered Gypsy Vanners By Country - June 2014

Australia Canada Columbia Denmark Mexico New Zealand Nicaragua United States

2 396 7 13 5 11 4 3066 31

GVHS Evaluations: By Katherine Mutti

In last year’s edition of The Vanner, equine professional, Wayne Hipsley, explained the many purposes of GVHS Evaluations as follows: “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: •A method for horses to be promoted from one studbook to another, when 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 their stallions, and use these scores to advertise and promote their stallion’s qualities for solicitation of stallion services.

a . 60-69 Score will be given a Three Star recognition b. 70-79 Score will be given a Four Star recognition c. 80-100 Score will be given a Five Star recognition Gold Medallion of Quality- Any horse with qualifying scores (above 70) in the Conformation-Movement portion of the program and the Performance portion of the program will be awarded a Gold Medallion of Quality. Horses can be awarded a Gold Medallion of Quality in each discipline: Western- Under Saddle, English- Under Saddle and Driving. Versatility Medallion of Honor- Versatility is a very important attribute of the Gypsy Vanner Horse. Because of this it is encouraged that Gypsy Vanners be trained in a variety of disciplines. The ultimate horse has good conformation, movement, and is a willing partner in multiple riding disciplines and driving. Tests can be taken over a period of time as training and skill levels develop.

•A method to advertise and promote any mares and geldings to demonstrate the qualities and strengths of a breeding farm.

When a horse has received a Gold Medallion of Quality in all three performance tests, that horse will be presented with the Versatility Medallion of Honor.

•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.

In 2013 the stallion, The Pleasure’s Mine, owned by Rita Susgin of Welland, ON was the first and only Gypsy Vanner Horse to date to achieve the Versatility Medallion of Honor.

•A method of studbook entry for horses whose ancestry is unknown, but their origins are known, once all the criteria for registration are fulfilled.

Hall of Fame- The ultimate level of the Evaluation Program is the GVHS Hall of Fame. A Hall of Fame horse, either stallion or mare, qualifies for honors, based on recognition of the quality of its offspring. To be named a GVHS Hall of Fame Stallion or a GVHS Hall of Fame Mare the horse must meet the following requirements:

•A method for a breeder and owner to have an assessment on the potential uses of the horse, either as a riding or driving horse.” In addition to the Conformation-Movement Evaluation, the GVHS offers performance evaluations in English- Under Saddle, WesternUnder Saddle and Driving as a means to assess the horse’s level of training and ability in each particular discipline.

1. The horse must have offspring that are evaluated in the GVHS Evaluation program. These offspring must be evaluated in Conformation/Movement and in Performance.

GVHS Awards: Owners can pursue a number of different awards with in the Evaluation system as follows:

a. A Hall of Fame Stallion must have 5 offspring that have received a Gold Medallion of Quality.

Star Awards- The Star Award is given to horses that attain qualifying scores in the Conformation/ Movement portion of the evaluation program. 32

b. A Hall of Fame Mare must have 3 offspring that have received a Gold Medallion of Quality.

No horses have yet achieved this designation, but as our Evaluation program continues to expand, offering more frequent opportunities for Evaluation throughout North America, we foresee that it will not be long before some very special horses achieve this honor. Conformation- Movement Evaluations as a Tool for Selective Breeding Within a Conformation-Movement Evaluation each horse is assessed and scored in each of 9 different categories: • Head • Neck • Body • Fore legs • Hind legs • Movement at Walk • Movement at Trot • Overall Impression • Breed Type It is quite possible for a horse that is weak in a particular area, to still achieve a 5- Star score on the merit of its other positive attributes. If you pair two 5-Star horses with the same weakness, you cannot expect to improve upon that weak area. Breeders should be selecting pairings with a goal to improve upon the quality of the offspring. If you have a mare with a weak back, then review prospective stallions for a strong back to improve the likelihood of improving that characteristic in the mare’s offspring. Used in this manner, the Evaluation Score sheets can be a useful tool for selective breeding. GVHS Evaluators The GVHS Evaluators are independent experienced equine professionals with GVHS Evaluation training. Active Evaluators cannot be Breeders and cannot Judge Breed shows in any year in which they are evaluating. The emphasis is on scoring the individual horse relative to the Breed Standard, and not, as with Judging, to other horses in attendance. All Evaluators are in their position because they are independent, have a strong demonstrated equine background and have attended the GHVS Evaluator training and have met the requirements of completing a certain number of “shadow” Evaluations with scoring within that of the actual Evaluators. It is our goal to maintain integrity and independence in our Evaluations Ensuring that all Evaluators have a solid understanding of the breed conformation, type and movement and are scoring with a common baseline is important to maintain the value of the Evaluation system. With more Evaluations occurring each year, we record and analyze the scoring statistics to ensure as much consistency

as possible between Evaluators and between separate Evaluations. In reviewing historical scoring, with sufficient data, the scores should naturally fall in a normal distribution/ ‘bell curve’. The majority of horses will score ‘average’, low to mid-70s. We recognize that not all people will always agree with their individual horses’ scoring. Owners have the right during the Evaluation day to question the Evaluators about the scores and the GVHS Administrator about the process. Should a process question not be resolved on the day of the Evaluation, there is an appeals process and any horse can be re-Evaluated at any time. Recently the GVHS Board of Directors voted to offer a reduced rate to owners wishing to have their horse re-Evaluated at any time. The normal fee is $100 per Evaluation and for a reEvaluation, the fee is now $70. EVALUATIONS COMING SOON TO A LOCATION NEAR YOU! Starting in late August and through the fall, we have several dates and locations for GVHS Evaluations set. • Sunday, August 31, 2014Rancho Murieta, CA • Monday, September 1, 2014 Pagosa Springs, CO • Thursday, September 18, 2014 Oklahoma City, OK • Saturday, October 18, 2014 Kansas City, KS • October Date TBD Remey, AB CANADA If you wish to have Evaluations in your area in 2015, we do require your assistance. While some 2014 locations were selected to introduce the program to owners in new areas (example: California), others were set when a group of owners got together a confirmed group of at least 20 Evaluations and identified a cost effective Evaluation location (indoor/covered arenas are preferred in most areas). Contact us for more information if you are interested in helping to set up Evaluations in your area in 2015. For more information about the Evaluation Program, the Scoring System and to see the actual Score sheets and patterns, visit the Evaluations section of the GVHS website.



Copper Coin Owned by Ellen Myers of NY

Grand CH Stallion 2012 GSHA National Reserve in Color, 2012 GSHA National Best two year old Stallion, 2011, GSHA National

Available for sire for approved mares.

Contact: Ellen Myers, NY Phone: 631.537.5346 Email: 34

Bob TaborŠ

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driving the gypsy vanner

Cover Spotlight

Driving the Gypsy Vanner Horse By Joyce M. Christian, Editor While I believe most owners and breeders of the Gypsy Vanner would agree this is one of the most versatile equines out there, they also would agree this breed has a real knack for driving. Then again a look back at how this horse came to be gives us a little insight as to why. Prior to naming the breed and establishing the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society Dennis Thompson and his late wife, Cindy, spent four years getting to know the horse through the Gypsy breeders who had developed the breed. In their frequent conversations one theme ran true, “a perfect caravan horse”. While many cultures over time have certainly used the horse as transportation, the Gypsy culture took that need and as Dennis Thompson has so often stated, “…made it an art form.” There is no mistaking the colorful and ornate open and closed lot bowtop caravans of the British Gypsies. The unique designs created by carving, painting and carefully applying gold leaf led to the British government publicly recognizing such caravans as British art treasures. These beautiful wagons were the inspiration for the Gypsy Vanner Horse. The Gypsies set out with plan and purpose to create a breed as strikingly recognizable as the caravans they would pull. It would not just be this beauty on the “must have” list of breed traits, a strong athletic ability to pull, endurance for traveling a distance, and a willing, calm demeanor for the safety of family and belongings would also be needed. With this recipe they carefully chose breeding stock to move their herds in the right direction. When the breed was uncovered it was almost immediately understood as a driving breed; the fun would come later when the horse would clearly and without question show a level of versatility not often found in other breeds and certainly not in draft based breeds. Driving though seemed to come as easily to these horses as tak36


ing a drink of water. When America’s first Gypsy Vanner stallion arrived it seemed just natural that the next step would be to show him driving. I am very grateful to Mary Beth Wherry for sharing a photo from the archives of Bill and Joanne Thorup of Bob Giles driving Cushti Bok with GVHS Co-Founder, Cindy Thompson, aboard. While the picture is fuzzy the memory is not; a beautiful boy proudly carrying the lady who fell in love with him, doing the job his creators destined for him and others like him. Bill and Joanne Thorup would purchase two of the original horses imported to Gypsy Gold farm, the mares, Jasmine and Esmeralda. In the early years these beautiful girls became the breed’s superstars winning many driving competitions and helping showcase this rare and new breed to those in the driving world. In 2001 they were recognized as the North American Tandem Driving Champions. As fate would have it Bill and Wendy Ricci would be drawn to the breed by this lovely pair. They would go on to find and purchase other horses, but then through circumstance Jasmine and Esmeralda would come to call the Ricci’s farm, WR Ranch, home. While Bill loves the breed and certainly sees their amazing potential in many disciplines he simply loves their original skill of driving. Our cover photo by Jackie Barrett is the beautiful Esmeralda pulling the Ricci’s bowtop caravan. The GVHS salutes WR Ranch for proudly caring on this tradition with two of America’s first Gypsy Vanner Horses. All of us in the GVHS thank you for the many efforts you have made and continue to make on behalf of our wonderful breed and the organization founded to preserve and protect them. Please read on and enjoy the articles shared by our members who are taking the art of driving the Gypsy Vanner seriously. They are driving for fun, in competition, and even to the grocery store!


Driving By: Adam Murfield Legendary Dreams Farm Statesboro, Ga. 30458 At the age of 14 I had life all figured out! I was going to finish high school, go to college and get a degree in veterinary medicine, open a small animal

practice right in my home town. Doc, our neighbor and a veterinarian, found out about my aspirations and brought over a stack of books that was nearly as tall as I was and said “well young man you probably need to start reading these and we need to get you around some animals.” He began telling me about the process for getting into veterinary medicine and one of the things that stuck out was that most schools wanted specific animal experience. He told my parents and me about a program at the Joint Vocational School which focused on teaching students about the Standardbred racing industry. “Horses?” was my response. I enrolled in the program that fall. Every morning I would go to school and then be transported out to the barns at the local fairgrounds. There were nine in my class, 4 upper classmen and 5 lower. There were very few horses at first. We were cleaning stalls, water buckets and feed tubs and finally we learned how to put a harness on. One Monday morning in early October we arrived at the barns to all the stalls being filled. The babies had arrived! In the Standardbred racing industry horses begin training prior to their second birthday so most of the animals were only about 18 months old and for the largest part untouched by human hands. Each student was assigned two babies and two older race horses. It was now our responsibility to do all that was necessary to manage that horse’s care. Some of us showed more interest in learning how to train and were given the opportunity to begin learning how to jog and train the older horses and to break the younger ones to the cart. As the Ohio winter set in, fewer and fewer students wanted to go out onto the cold track with their horses where your hands and feet became numb within minutes, and so the tradeoffs began. I would jog and train their horses and they cleaned my stalls, water buckets and equipment. As spring approached every student was asked whether they would be returning the following year. My answer was a resounding “no.” I knew I had the number of hours of experience that schools would be looking for so why come back to something that still didn’t truly excite me. I remember the day like it was yesterday when my mind changed. It was May 3rd, the last day before we had to turn our papers in declaring we would be returning next year. I was on the track with what was one of the first horses I ever taught to drive and we were warming up in preparation for a training mile. The sky was a bright blue, the track smelled of diesel fuel from the tractor which had just finished dragging the track and I looked up and it hit me that this, training horses, was what I was supposed to do.


We finished our training mile and headed back to the barn. I jumped off the cart, handed the horse to someone and nearly fell through the screen door to the office where my teacher was. “I need one of those sheets so I can come back”. She laughed and said “you’ve been bitten by the bug,” and handed me my sheet. The following year I trained more and more horses and broke more and more babies. I was the lead student trainer by the end of the school year, making decisions on how to shoe horses, what equipment they needed, and what their exercise regimen should be. I was asked if I had any desire to drive in races. I knew I wasn’t old enough to drive for money but they told me about exhibition races for younger drivers trying to build their skills. About two weeks later I was in a sulky behind a gate with six others out there. We were being watched, timed and critiqued on decisions we made. The adrenaline was rushing through me as the gate began to pick up speed and I heard the words “drivers go” and we were off. Fast forward ten years now, I was in the same place, sitting in the sulky with the gate about to swing and I hear someone ask “are you leaving, hey are you leaving”. What they were asking was if I was going to be going to the front when the gates swung; what I heard was “Is this what you want to be doing for the rest of your life?” I dissolved my stable, selling off every horse and every piece of equipment I owned the following year and moved back home to take a job in construction alongside one of my brothers. Fast forward now another ten years, I am married and have recently bought Monique the first horse she ever owned as a birthday present. I am pulling into the drive from work when I get a phone call with her sobbing; there had been a freak accident and her horse had not made it. A few weeks passed and even though she was told she could ride others’ horses at the barn, she didn’t feel the same as she did riding her own horse and so one night I caught her looking up horses for sale. She came across this picture of this big, gorgeous black and white horse whose owner was giving away, if someone would just pay for shipping. It sounded sketchy to me, but Monique already had visions of owning one of these horses. She began talking to owners and found out that this gentleman’s ad was in fact a scam and so she began to ask about prices. Very quickly I watched the blood drain from her face. She was a graduate student and I had recently been laid off. There was no way we would be able to afford a Gypsy Vanner, yet. For months afterwards, I would be doing something and Monique would come in telling me about bloodlines and whose mares were foaling and I followed her to every Gypsy Vanner farm within a 200 mile radius so she could learn more. I still wasn’t sold; I had resolved to never have horses again. One day she practically busted the door down telling me “There is a

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show in Asheville; that’s only like 3 hours from here, oh we are going!” I didn’t get a word in but it wouldn’t have mattered anyways. On the morning of the show we arrived at the grounds to find about 60 magnificent animals being led around and worked with. We walked up and down the aisle ways meeting farm owners and looking at horses. We spent time in the stands watching classes and then into the ring came a silver dappled horse in a cart. Monique looked over at me and said “That’s Dalcassian, isn’t he gorgeous?” For the second time in my life, I had been bitten by the bug to drive although this time not for speed or purse checks, but for pure joy. Two years later Monique and I bought our first Gypsy Vanner, a six day old filly we named RHF Legendary Duchess. We began taking her out to shows as soon as we could and we met so many great people. At one of our first shows we met an owner who was interested in the fact that I knew how to train horses to drive. I had always assumed I would teach any horse we owned to drive but had never contemplated training other’s horses to drive. One year later as I left those very same grounds I had the first Gypsy Vanner I would ever teach to drive in the trailer with me, WCF RK Anthem, owned by Laurie MacDuffie. Whether a Gypsy Vanner or Standardbred, my training practices have remained the same. I begin by ground driving and we work our way up to pulling a cart. However; learning all of the new harness parts, how to size the carts, what to wear and all the rules, was a daunting task for me. I read a lot. One of the books I recommend to all new drivers is Carriage Driving: A Logical Approach Through Dressage Training by Bean & Blanchard. It utilizes many of the same steps for driving that I do when training and so if there is an issue with your horse you can find out very quickly how an experienced trainer might have dealt with it. I have enjoyed working with the Gypsy Vanner breed more than any other because they have a level of intelligence not commonly found in other breeds. It’s almost as if you can watch the light bulb go off in their head when they realize what you are asking them to do. However; it is not enough to only train the horses; you must also be willing to work with the owners. Most owners come to me with the desire to drive,



but lack experience and so my key focus in training both owner and horse must be safety. Typically a trainer requires at least 90 days to be confident that the horse has experienced a variety of situations needed to maintain a level head under any circumstance. As I remember back to the first time I watched Laurie MacDuffie climb into the seat of the cart and be asked to drive Anthem, I am not sure who was more nervous, her or me? I have had years of experience with handling difficult situations, but here was someone who didn’t. Then a very special thing happened, something I have only seen from the Gypsy Vanner breed. Anthem practically turned around, saw who was in the cart and then turned back to look at me again as if to say “Don’t worry you trained me well and that is my mama back there, I will keep her safe.” Laurie came for lessons as often as she could from that point forward and always felt very comfortable and safe with him. 96 days after coming to me, Anthem went to the Feathered Horse Classic in Jacksonville for his driving debut where he competed in 3 of the 4 driving classes and was awarded Reserve Grand Champion of the driving division. We returned home to Statesboro, Ga.; the very next day simultaneously saying goodbye to Anthem and welcoming a new horse, Chase N Gold, who was here for training. We have been blessed this year to meet some very wonderful people in the breed who have entrusted to me the care of this member of their family. This fall we will be welcoming another horse to begin their driving career along with two Gypsy Vannners experienced in driving, who will continue their training and return to showing regionally with me. Driving isn’t something you do, but who you are. It begins to define you. My recommendation to anyone wishing to drive is this: allow yourself to get bitten by the bug and throw your fears aside. You are given one shot in this life and it is entirely too short to miss an opportunity to truly share an experience with your horse. One that will showcase what they were bred to do. I walked away from the thing I loved most to do once in my life only to be lucky enough to have it returned to me through this breed. As I move forward training new horses and continuing the training of others, I want to continue what those before me like William Ricci and Robert Giles intended which is to bring the Gypsy Vanner into the spotlight of driving by exposing a greater number of people to this wonderful breed. I couldn’t be more excited than I am about how that future looks.


~ CHF Otis ~

Starting a Gypsy Vanner a Trainer’s Experience By: Carol Dunbar , Chocolate Horse Farm

At Chocolate Horse Farm we have a gelding named Otis, as some of you know. He was named for a gentleman, who is no longer with us, but remembered daily for the special someone he was. It seemed only fitting that we should make this colt his namesake. Like the man, the colt is calm, laid back, and enjoys doing whatever needs done. Learning then for the colt was on his “to do” list and he took the task seriously. Talk about a “quick study” – a typical approach for a Gypsy Vanner. The breed in general learns easily no matter the task. It typifies how they learn - take the gentleness of the draft and the smart resourcefulness of the pony heritage, and you have, truly, the best of both worlds. Give this breed a job to do and as soon as they understand, which is quickly, they are on it. They make everything look easy. With our light horses we were accustomed to doing everything over and over, but with our Vanners it is training on the fast track. I am not suggesting that you skip steps, absolutely not as you are building a foundation and it is imperative your horse understands the task, or he will respond in a way you don’t want or expect.


Within the Vanner breed we find different personalities as with all other breeds. Consistently though we have found the Vanners to have a strong desire to please and smart enough to get it quickly - a trainer’s dream! Maturity is a big factor to be considered as well, as some need a longer period to grow up. We have a small gelding, CHF Traveler, who was ultra-smart as a youngster. He would have taken advantage of anyone lacking experience and common sense. He could have been sold over and over again to moms and grandmas looking for a small horse for their daughter, granddaughters, sons, or grandsons. Instead I shared with interested individuals that he would not be the horse you want for a child. Now, a few years later, he is amazing. We drive him and will put him under saddle this spring. One reason is to enhance his self-confidence. Horses need to become confident in their relationship with you. They need to trust you and know without a doubt, they will be safe, no matter what you ask of them. Second, it gives Traveler the chance to become some special child’s best buddy. And when they outgrow him, size wise, grandma can get out and have some fun driving him. It is a win-win for everyone.


Gale Rempel driving her mare SCF Classic Harley aka Abby.

Gypsy Vanners and Driving It Must be in My Genes By Gale Totton Rempel

As long as I can remember, as a child I dreamed of horses. I really thought Santa would bring me one, and each year I waited. We lived in a modest house in a populated city outside of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Dreams of my new pony living in the garden shed was, well….only a child’s dream. As I grew older, my family moved to Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, and at the age of 15, I finally was able to get my own horse. A small black mare, Beauty, was her name, and she was the start of a lifetime of love and horse ownership. Where did this need, and desire to have a horse comes from? My parents, not understanding this crazy horse girl, would often ask ‘where in the world did you come from?’ My parents, now in their 80’s, emigrated from Belfast, Northern Ireland, just after they were married. I didn’t know until recent years that my Great Granddad owned Cob type ponies and drove them as the local town Taxi, and the Hearse Driver for the town of Belfast. My Dad has great tales of the black and grey Cob ponies that pulled the carriages that my Great Granddad needed. A grey pony for the taxi and two black ponies escorted the hearse. Was this the start of my adventures with Gypsy Vanner Horses, and my crazy desire to start carriage driving, something which I knew nothing about, was it indeed my Great Granddad’s genes ? 44


Years of riding, a Diploma from a Canadian Equine College, Dressage, Jumping, Western riding, Trail riding and most recently, Western Pleasure, Cowboy Ranch Obstacles, Cow Sorting, Cutting…………..and now Driving! The biggest challenge when you get older, it is harder to learn a new thing. How do I go about starting? Living now in Ohio, this was the year my husband Mike and I decided to get out of the snow and head to Florida for a few months in the winter. Our location for the winter happened to be in an area with people that ride and drive their horses in the community. A National Forest is within riding and carriage driving distance with 114 miles of trails. Arriving there with my two Vanners, one harness, which I had never even put on totally myself, I was determined to learn. I found a trainer, the renowned Bob Giles, who has driven many horses including Gypsy Vanners, started working with me. My mare Abby, a Cushti Bok daughter, had already been driven a little, but my mare Cami, a Lenny Horse daughter had never been trained to drive at all. Cami was sent to driving ‘Boot Camp’ with Bob Giles.

I was asked to show Abby at the Florida State Fair…..yikes, was I ready? And Bob wanted to drive Abby in tandem with another Vanner that he had trained to drive. So after three tandem practices, Abby, and Gypsy Princess made their debut, and placed 3rd driven by Bob Giles, in the Pony Tandem class by the Big Top at the Florida State Fair!

After completing Dressage and Marathon without elimination, the driver and horse prepare for the Cones/Obstacle portion of the event. Memorization of the Cones/Obstacle pattern happens after the Marathon. Drivers take their horses through pairs of cones, consisting of up to 20 obstacles driven in correct sequence and direction within a time limit.

Soon with my confidence levels coming up, I was doing solo drives in the local woods and trails, learning driving dressage patterns, practicing in Marathon Hazard obstacles, training every day for Cones, and getting my girls fit for a three day competition. Five weeks after we started training, I entered both horses in their very first three day CDE (Combined Driving Event), at Black Prong Equestrian Center, in Morriston, Florida.

I was in for the adventure of a lifetime. Both my Gypsy Vanners were getting ready to participate. I was driving Abby, and I had another driver compete with the newly trained Cami. With coaches and friends cheering us on, my horses Abby, and Cami completed the Dressage portion of the event. On that day, Abby was in 4th place, Cami in 6th. On to memorizing the Marathon course and Hazard Obstacles, walking each obstacle numerous times ensuring the patterns of each hazard were etched into my mind. With one last quick “walk through” the morning before, we were ready. My adrenaline rushing, my navigator on board, and Abby in the lead,

A Combined Driving Event can be compared to a triathlon. Intended to showcase the versatility, training and talents of

both horse and driver, it consists of three competitions. These components are Dressage, Marathon, and Obstacle/Cones. These three events can be held over one, two or three days. The foundation of the sport is said to be the Dressage portion. Equines and their drivers compete individually, completing a specified pattern, utilizing different gaits, to demonstrate skill, obedience and discipline with one or more judges scoring. The Judges are looking for a display of precision and athleticism of equine and driver. The next portion is the Cross Country Marathon. Here, the driver, along with a navigator complete eight to eighteen kilometers negotiating Hazard Obstacles every kilometer or so. The mental and physical courage and strength of both horse and driver is crucial. Horses are tested in pace control, agility, obedience and endurance. These obstacles have to be memorized the day before to ensure you send your horse through the correct gates in the proper direction, or elimination occurs.

we completed the Hazards correctly, under the time limit. Cami, her driver and navigator completed the course as well. Memorizing the Cones course for the competition early the next morning was the next step. I walked the course numerous times to remember the sequence, and to figure out the best routes for success without a knockdown fault. After completion of day three with clean runs for both of the horses, but time faults on Abby, the amazing Gypsy Vanner breed did us proud and we finished with Cami in 4th place and Abby in 6th. My horses gave us their hearts that day. Those three days of competition were a tribute to the wonderful Gypsy Vanner breed. These adventures could never have been dreamed of or even achieved without my trainers, thank you Bob Giles, Winter Hill Driving Center, in Morriston, Florida and Chelsea Nau, CN Performance Horses, in Huntsburg, Ohio. It could not have been done in those short five weeks without the wonderful ‘willing to please attitude’ of my Gypsy Vanners. These amazing girls looked after us, and made everyone involved so proud. I love this beautiful, extraordinary breed of horse. And the biggest thank you to my Granddad for my Irish pony girl genes.


Dreams Come


By Sylvia Beiler

As long as I can remember I wanted a horse of my own. I was the youngest in a family of six boys and two girls. Being Amish I grew up with big Standardbreds to pull our buggies. We also had a pony for my brother and me to drive to school. Weekends I’d spend hours riding her around the farm. When we graduated school my dad, never one to keep an animal just for pleasure, sold my best friend (the pony). After that I’d sneak my brothers’ horses and ride while they were away at work, but I still always dreamed of having my own. I didn’t care if it were just an ugly old nag as long as I could call it my own! Of course I really wanted a beautiful black and white paint. So naturally the first time I came across a photo of a Gypsy Vanner it was love at first sight. But that was another one of those seemingly unreachable dreams. Little did I know what God had in store for me.

In 2006 my best friend, Nate, and I married. In 2007 we were blessed with baby, Kristina Lynn. I was a very happy wife and mother, but my little girl dream was still there. Four months after Kristina was born we received a horrible phone call. My mom had been killed in a car accident. The day before my 23rd birthday we buried my dad. I was devastated having lost both parents so young. After settling the estate my dear husband really encouraged me to go after my dream, which was of course a Gypsy Vanner Horse. 46 46

Not knowing the history on these horses I didn’t know their value. So when we saw the price I said, “No way, could we spend that much while paying a mortgage and raising a family.” By then baby Katherine Beth had joined our growing family. But Nate kept insisting I should do it. So after researching and visiting the horses at El Brio Vanner we decided the Vanner is a good choice for us with the little girls. After searching for the perfect one we found Dancer at Thorn Hill Farms in Missouri. Kathy Ramey owner of Thorn Hill was very helpful and we felt like God wanted me to have this horse. My husband and brothers got right to work and built a really cute two stall barn. All for my very own horse and a Gypsy Vanner at that! I was so excited I was fairly bouncing off the walls! I have no doubt Dancer was sent to me straight from Heaven and my parents are rejoicing that they could finally afford to give their horse crazy girl her dream. Dancer has been a big part in healing my broken heart. She has an amazing ability to me. When life got too overwhelming I’d bury my face in her neck and she’d always wrap her head around me and press her muzzle against my back until I felt better. Being Amish we don’t drive cars so Dancer is our transportation,

pulling our buggy. Everywhere we go people are in awe of her. Their reactions are so cool. I’ve heard lots of comments like, “She looks like she just walked out of a fairy tale!” We’ve had people follow us off the road to ask about our horse. As many as a dozen people have surrounded us in the grocery store parking lot asking about her. Most of them have never heard of a Gypsy Vanner. One day a road construction man asked me to stop just so he could touch Dancer’s mane; he didn’t think it was real! Road construction, big tractors and all the loud noises never bother her. She just trots down the road and does her duties which is a big blessing for me to have a safe horse to drive with our growing family. Makayla Grace makes number three. We use Dancer for everything; trips to town, ride, broodmare and mow grass (we hitch her to a little cart fastened to a deck mower). She has had two beautiful colts for us. My six year old, Kristina, has now claimed her for her riding horse. We bought her a miniature horse when she was four and already she’d rather ride Dancer. They are so cute together galloping all over the pasture. It’s so fun to watch Kristina live out my own dreams. I always thought I’d be happy with one horse of my own. Everyone told me, “You can’t have only one Gypsy Vanner.” I soon found they were right. It wasn’t long before we knew my girls and I want to raise these beautiful horses. We bought a nice yearling colt from Kathy but a few months later he died of colic. Kathy knew how devastated I was with yet another loss, and offered to give us a very special little colt who lost his mother soon after birth. I was very happy to have such a sweet little guy in my barn. All three girls go out with me to do the chores. We’ve spent many happy hours brushing and bathing our hairy horses and dreaming of having a big horse farm! Someday we’d like to raise quality Vanners and experience the fun of allowing other horse lovers’ dreams to come true. But as of now I’m enjoying God’s gifts to the fullest; with a loving husband, three adorable horse crazy girls, and two horses to call my own. I’m living my wildest dream! Many thanks to Kathy Ramey of Thorn Hill for her help and generosity, the GVHS and everyone else who worked hard to introduce this amazing breed. You were all a part of making my dream come true. God bless you all…..



Driving Bandit

ACinderella Story GV00070F

By Joyce M. Christian

Born in 1950 to a farming family outside of Greensboro, Alabama, I grew up dreaming of having a pony of my own. It was the era of TV Westerns; Gunsmoke, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, The Lone Ranger, and the list goes on. Each cowboy was best known by his companion steed; the two inseparable in their fame. My daydream hours always aboard one of those special horses.



In 1996 while living and working in Germany I would encounter for the first time a group of horses unlike any I had ever seen before in my entire lifetime – a group of horses at my daughter’s riding stable I would learn came from British Gypsies. The Gypsies in 1996 were extremely private; in some cases unapproachable; and exhibited no interest in sharing any information about these horses with anyone outside their immediate family or circle of friends.

Now in my forties and well established in a successful career I found myself in a position to “own a horse”. My first purchase was a wonderful mare for my daughter; a year with this horse would only whet my appetite more for a real “horse of my own”. Then the magical day happened; while strolling through the sale barn at my daughter’s riding stable I came face to face with my dream in the flesh; a beautiful black stallion from this group of amazing horses bred by British Gypsies. Convincing the stable owner of my sincere interest in this horse he finally agreed to phone the Gypsy and let me speak with him. I shared my admiration of the horse; my lifetime wait for such an animal; and my desire to buy the stallion. The Gypsy, whose name I would never know, explained that such a horse was a

family treasure and therefore not for sale. Thinking I was ending the conversation I told the man that I understood as I said, “If I owned him he would not be for sale either; just know that when you take him back to England he will take my heart with him.” There was a long silence and then the Gypsy softly responded, “Did you say he has your heart?” “Yes”, I replied. “Well then, he doesn’t belong to me any longer”, the Gypsy stated as he continued with what I would need to do to finalize the purchase. A true treasure, obtainable only with one’s heart, and the answer to a dream woven in childhood, longed for in young adulthood, and finally realized in a German courtyard far from Greensboro, Alabama. His name is Bandit. In 2001 my career brought me home to the USA and to New York. In 1998 I had discovered the work of Dennis and Cindy Thompson and the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. I proudly registered with the GVHS my two horses I had brought with me from Germany. Our journey of helping introduce, preserve, and promote this wonderful breed then began. Almost immediately upon our arrival in America we received invitations to bring the horses to a variety of events “just so people could see them.” I had learned while in Germany that I am not nor will I ever be a rider. Therefore, I made the decision to have my Bandit trained to drive believing this was an important step to promote the breed with the discipline grounded in their history. It was not only the right decision for Bandit it was truly a blessing for me. I found myself able to have a wonderful partnership with my horse doing something we both clearly enjoyed. After driving him at a local event I was asked why I constantly smile and I responded with a question, “Would you not smile if you were living a dream?”

In 2003 my driving instructor had decided I needed to show Bandit in driving classes that year. I was anxious as we all are when taking those first steps in a new activity – but sign up we did and the day arrived for our very first horse show experience. We had entered two classes the first of which was the Pleasure Driving class. As I approached the gate to the ring I noticed a large group, eleven to be exact, participating in this class. I took a deep breath and urged Bandit to enter the ring. This horse loves to drive. As we moved around the ring it became obvious that he knew his job, was doing it well, and I simply was along for the most exciting ride of my life. Suddenly I heard the announcer asking us to line up in front of the judge. This we did. As I sat there looking at my horse so perfectly posed, my smile grew. We had completed our very first class in our very first horse show. My mind flipped back almost thirty years to annual summer horse shows where I sat on the bleachers envying all the participants and wanting desperately to know how it must feel to show a beautiful horse. Then as if awakened from that dream I heard the announcer saying, “…and First Place goes to number 121, Joyce Christian driving Bandit.” Tears began a slow flow down my cheek as I drove my Bandit to the steward presenting the ribbons and then around the ring for a victory lap. My vision still blurred we exited the ring and waited to be called back for the second class, Reinsmanship. This time my nerves were gone, I simply just decided to enjoy the drive and did just that. When we lined up I was not even expecting to place, just so happy from our previous win and the joy still making goose bumps on my arms when in disbelief I heard, “…and First Place goes to number 121, Joyce Christian driving Bandit.” We exited the ring to a deafening applause and as I halted Bandit near our trailer, my driving trainer, Susan, approached giving me a hug. We loaded the horses and piled in the truck exhausted but happier than I can capture in words. My prince of a horse was resting quietly after a job well done. I remember thinking as we pulled away from the show grounds, “Cinderella, you ain’t got nothing on me!”

Left: Gypsy Vanner gelding, Bandit driven by J. Christian, winning first place in the Pleasure Driving class at Woodstock Riding Club New York. Right: Gypsy Vanner gelding, Bandit GV00070F (at age nineteen) photographed by Mark J. Barrett 2014.



Celebrating our

gvhs youth


Horses and little girls are like peanut butter and jelly. They just go together. There is simply something about a Gypsy Vanner that captivates children. Is it their beautiful colors, the manes and feathers, or their unbelievable personalities? We think it’s their gentle souls and kindness. Whether you board your Vanner at a stable or keep them at home, they are sure to give and receive attention. Anyone who owns a Gypsy Vanner knows that these are not low-maintenance horses. It takes time, effort and money to prepare the rider and Vanner for shows. Amanda has shown WR Sundance for three years at many Feathered Horse Classic (FHC) shows all around the country. They have been Youth Grand Champions over eight times. In Perry, GA last October they were the GVHS Western and English Futurity Champions. Having grown up at Hunter/Jumper shows, Amanda’s true loves are Jumping and English classes. However, she quickly learned that Gypsy Vanners can be shown in numerous disciplines such as Trail, Western, Command, Liberty, and Halter. It is important to find classes that the rider/handler and horse love. Every Youth team has its strengths. Examples could be Showmanship, Equitation or Patterns. The best trained Gypsy Vanner in the world will 52 52 48

not win a Trail or Horsemanship class if the rider does not learn and perform the pattern correctly. The Youth are superstars at the shows. The rules generally do not let them ride horses under three or show stallions at all. Many of the Youth are competent, confident riders/ handlers who hold their own against Amateurs, Adults and Professional Trainers in Open Classes. In our family, Amanda and Gordon do all of the grooming and riding. A successful show depends on everyone working together, each with their own jobs. In addition to shows, Youth can be involved with 4-H, Parades, State Fair demonstrations, Breyerfest, local competitions, fun shows and countless other activities. At the GVHS annual meeting in January, I was pleased to see that the overall membership numbers were up but was disappointed that the Youth membership had declined. The board has made an outstanding commitment to increase Youth Membership and involvement. The key is to get the entire family involved. The Muir Family Black Watch Gypsy Vanner Stables Loxahatchee, Florida


Biscuit stallion ”

“A once in a lifetime

“D oc”

GVHS 5 star stallion



Owned and loved by Janet & ROnnie adamS Jefferson,Ga 706.654.7980



The Journey of

DeJay Matthews Eight year old DeJay Matthews was thrilled to be at the Oklahoma State Fair with friends and family from Deerinwater Farms. Their four year old mare, Westmoreland Quality Street, was groomed and ready and the day of show classes for DeJay at the Oklahoma State Fair Gypsy and Draft Horse Show had arrived. While most kids get a spell of the jittery nerves, not DeJay. He knew his stuff and was ready with Quality Street. He had entered the Youth Western, Walk-Jog Class, and the Youth Halter. This was his first show and he delivered with the air of a long time professional – but maybe just a little too comfortable. After the classes the judge came over and told him he was awesome, but that he probably shouldn’t wave to the crowd during the classes, and it wasn’t a good idea for him to tell her that he liked her shirt during the class – LOL! By the time for the Feathered Horse Classic in Belton, Texas, in November 2013, DeJay had pulled it all together, taking the judge’s advice and doing everything right, he took first place in the Walk Equitation Class which included several adults. Way to go DeJay, the GVHS is proud and we think you are awesome too! 54


2010 Black & White Tobiano Homozygous Black - EE • Traditional Gypsy Vanner • Exceptional Personality • Beautiful Movement • Excelling in Dressage C J B a k e r & Ca ro l R o d s a te r | 3 0 9 - 3 7 0 - 0 1 4 4 | p rc t a c k @ gm a i l. co m




“Special Talents” A Boy and His Gypsy Vanner

I fell in love with the Gypsy Vanners for many reasons, but one of the most special reasons I love this breed is the wonderful bond and special relationships they seem to have with their human companions, especially children. The Gypsy Vanner has been bred to have amazing temperament and disposition. Luckily over the years, I have had the opportunity to witness some very special moments with my Vanners and children. Years ago when my mare Magic was only three years old, the barn owner brought her two year old daughter out with her while she was doing chores. I had Magic in cross ties and was grooming her. The owner and I began chatting while the two year old was playing in the barn. For a moment the owner lost sight of her daughter. The next thing we knew, standing directly under Magic and petting her belly was the young child. Magic stood completely still and had a calm, soft look in her eye as if intuitively knowing that she could not move at all and seemed perfectly fine with the fact that a small child was under her. Another special moment happened when a close friend of mine brought her 13 year old autistic child out to see a “real” horse for the first time. Timmy, my friend’s son, found it hard relating to most people, but loved animals. He had seen many pictures of Phantom so I invited him and his family out to the barn to see the horses. Immediately, Timmy was drawn to my gelding, Phantom. Phantom is great with all people, but especially with children. When I led Phantom out for Timmy to brush and pet him, Timmy threw his arms around Phantom’s face and began petting his muzzle with one hand. In the past, the one area Phantom has been sensitive about with unfamiliar adults, is having his muzzle petted. For a moment I was concerned at what Phantom’s reaction would be. To my amazement, Phantom lowered his head, nuzzled Timmy with his nose to get closer and seemed to encourage Timmy to continue petting him. I then saddled Phantom up and led Timmy around for his first ever horseback ride. To this day Timmy talks about his special friend, Phantom. For the last two years, I have gotten to see a truly special relationship develop between my horse trainer, Heather Caudill’s son, Nicholas (now eight years old) and Phantom. Nicholas and his brother Ethan have been around horses since they were born and have had the opportunity to ride various horses at their mom’s farm. Since moving here, I have had the opportunity to share Phantom with the boys and other visitors to the farm. Phantom has become a favorite of the children due to his calm and gentle nature. As you can imagine when Nicholas expressed an interest in taking lessons and getting “serious” about riding and showing, his mom wanted to make sure he had the right horse. Phantom became Nicholas’ obvious choice and a special bond and friendship was started.

By Debbie Noonan

Nicholas worked hard and prepared to go to his first show which was in a couple of months. It was so much fun to watch Nicholas and his big buddy Phantom going through their paces. His mom wanted to make sure he was well prepared for their upcoming Youth Walk Pleasure Class and Youth Costume. Even though nobody thought it would be necessary, they even practiced backing up just in case. The big event came – The Feathered Horse Classic in Jacksonville, Florida. Nicholas and Phantom were ready for Nicholas’ first time in the show arena. Nicholas was so excited to be at his first show. His mom was nervous, as any mom would be, but I tried to reassure her that Phantom had been trained by the best (her) and not to worry. Phantom and Nicholas made a great team. Phantom has been in the show arena many times, but for me this was one of the most special moments I have ever been a part of in all my years of showing. Phantom seemed determined to take care of his young friend. When Nicholas and Phantom came in for the line up in front of the judge, sure enough the judge asked all the youth to back their horses. We all held our breath, when the judge came to Phantom and Nicholas. Nicholas gave Phantom a slight cue and back they went. When Nicholas and Phantom were named the winners, Nicholas was grinning from ear to ear! As this year has progressed so has the bond between Nicholas and Phantom. At the end of the school year, Nicholas’ second grade class at school was given a final project. They had to demonstrate a special talent that they each had. For many children, it was your typical talents…basketball, dancing, gymnastics and so forth. One day while we were all sitting around the farm, Heather asked Nicholas what his special talent was and what did he want to do for the school project? Without missing a beat, Nicholas replied his special talent was riding Phantom! Luckily the school allowed videos to be presented and the project was started. In the beginning of the video, Nicholas proudly introduced himself and said his special talent is riding “his” Gypsy Vanner Phantom and that he was going to show everyone how to ride them! Heather told me afterwards that during the video it was almost like Phantom knew he had to do his job well and got right down into a proper frame to make sure he did his best for his special friend. What a wonderful gift and special talent to have! Over the years, Phantom and I have competed in many breed shows and USDF open dressage shows, achieving many accolades and awards, but none of them have been more special than a young boy saying his special talent is riding his Gypsy Vanner!


YOUTH in the

GVHS By Katherine Mutti

At the Annual General Meeting held in Conyers, GA this past February, a point was raised by one of our members towards the end of the meeting. She felt the GVHS Board & management could be doing more to engage youth by better facilitating their involvement in Society activities and promoting interaction amongst each other. Following that observation, we had the opportunity to gather with a small group of attendees, including one youth member, for dinner near the airport on Sunday evening. Among many other lively discussions that evening, the youth member was better able to articulate, from her perspective, some ways of developing a camaraderie among our youth membership. By keeping them interested and involved with each other, hopefully they will remain interested and involved with our beloved Gypsy Vanner Breed for decades into the future! Hearing the desire for us to develop some programs and activities to educate our Youth, one of our Evaluators, Dave Ayers, and his wife Aileen, made a generous donation to the GVHS to be earmarked for Youth Development activities. We’ve not yet fully brainstormed potential activities to offer the Youth involved in Gypsy Vanner Horses. Some early suggestions included, a GVHS Youth page on Facebook or other social media, a poster or t-shirt design contest, further development of this Youth Section of our annual magazine, a Youth correspondent for the monthly Vanner Banner e-newsletter, GVHS sponsored Youth activities or special show events at Breed Shows and a special Youth program at the Annual Meeting. There are undoubtedly many more ideas out there that we’ve yet to hear. To kick things off for our GVHS Youth, we are planning on having a special Youth Program incorporated into the 2015 Annual Meeting, February 20-22 at the Grand Oaks Resort & Museum. While in the very early planning stages we are tentatively planning several elements including: • A Youth social evening, • One or two seminars or clinics geared to youth, and • A pre-meeting T-Shirt Design Contest with winning design to be incorporated onto shirts to be available at Annual Meeting. There is a very special connection evident when you pair a Gypsy Vanner Horse with a child. As an organization, we must direct some effort to help our children, our Youth, to develop productive partnerships with their Gypsy Vanner Horses both at shows and on the farm and to help them better understand & appreciate why this special breed of horse deserves our protection now and into the future. After all, today’s Youth will be tomorrow’s leaders for the Society and the breed’s protectors.



Youth High Point ShowChampion

Rianna Ostrom with N’Co So Hot I Sizzle


Youth High Point Show Reserve Champion

Amanda Muir Riding WR Sundance



youth first place winner

Rianna Ostrom with mother Rita Ostrom



youth Second place winner Amanda Muir with WR Sundance

youth third place winner Hayley Martin with Hazel








he Passion Came Alive for the Gypsy Vanner horse breed at Vanner Fair 2013 with an all-time North American record of 55 Vanners in a single horse show! Once again, the Fair showcased the breed, while promoting GVHS registration and educating both public and Vanner owners to be true to the breed’s vision & genetics. The Equine-tourism model brings together regional communities to enjoy both a shopping experience of local merchants and an educational horse show promoting the Gypsy Vanner horse breed. It is the Fair’s intention to continue with an educational format to both welcome and enable new Vanner owners to experience a performance judged horse show. The approach has been well received by the audience and it allows newbies and experts to enjoy camaraderie, sharing the passion of the breed. The organizing Committee commends the efforts of international equine judge Wayne G. Hipsley’s approach to educational judging. It is fitting to enhance this new breed by enabling Vanner owners to be part of a professional horse show event. Vanner Fair is a gold moment for the Gypsy Vanner breed, and we hope its lasting memories enhance the development of the breed. The Organizing Committee would like to personally thank all of the participants, judges, sponsors and volunteers for their commitment and support. While the Elite Horse Auction was cancelled because of poor audience attendance due to stormy weather, the flexibility of the participants to adjust and showcase their Elite Vanners in a Liberty format allowed potential buyers a real opportunity to see the horse perform, resulting in a good horse sale.


The Opening Ceremonies were a highlight of the Fair, with 55 Vanners parading into the show arena; a memorial moment. The introduction to the drill team “Vanner Girls” plus an Acro-

fair Summary By: Jim Wilson

Fair Extravaganza were enjoyed by everyone. Likewise, the Fair show events were culminated with the new “Vanner Girls” Team Challenge, where participants, young & old, novice and expert and Vanners from yearlings to stallions, engaged the spectators with a series of fun and fast-paced relays. This year we were honored with the presence of June Towill Brown, an acclaimed artist and Sculptor of Vanner Fair “Best in Fair” Perpetual Trophy, participating as a featured vendor and to award the Best in Fair trophy to this year’s winner, Westmoreland Lottery Roulette, of N’Co Gypsy Vanners. 2013 Best-In-Fair Champion “Westmoreland Lottery Roulette” N’Co. Gypsy Vanners RESERVE CHAMPION “Latcho’s Banner” 2013 Best-in-Fair Reserve Champion DeerFields Stables We are looking forward to building on our past success and empowered to start working on Vanner Fair 2015, entitled Feathers N Flair. Vanner Fair 2015 Feather ‘n Flair Preview Gypsy Vanner Horse Breed: Owners and breeders are excited to share the magic and mystery of the Gypsy Vanner! The Gypsy Vanner has many wonderful qualities. Their beauty is immediately noticed, but time spent with a Gypsy Vanner and their warm, gregarious nature, is a true blessing! Years of selective breeding has developed a personality that is likely the most gentle and docile in the world. They are extremely social and eager to participate in your activities and will do so with beauty and style! Highly admired, the Gypsy Vanner is still extremely rare in the North America. Due to their increasing popularity, we expect to see many more in the very near future. Traditionally used for

GVHS Founder, Dennis Thompson, (with Erin Tokash) 2nd Annual Vanner Fair.

driving, they also excel at dressage, hunter jumper and both English & western pleasure riding. We welcome you to join us at Vanner Fair 2015 and discover their warm and gregarious nature, while enjoying a country fair like no other. 2015 Highlights Up-Close & Personal - Visit the Farm & Stables displays and get up-close and personal with one of the most magnificent breeds of horses the world has ever seen. Vendors & Food Court Opening Ceremonies- introductions and anthems plus entertaining acts that will captivate the audience

Elite Horse Sale Liberty Showcase - “Elite” refers to Vanners that have a 4 or 5 Star Evaluation Score. A new approach to showing potential buyers the best of the breed that are for sale at the Fair. The owners showcase their Vanners to give buyers a great feel of the horse, under-saddle plus free-style, the Vanner is released and free of physical restrain. Each Elite Horse for sale will be cataloged for easy buyer reference; buyers can deal directly with the Stables & Farms representing.

Feather N Flair Runway Parade - Great style never goes out of fashion. Nor do great horses. Sip on a chilled glass of Prosecco, with piano & strings to enjoy this one of a kind horse parade. A formal moment showcasing the magnificent Gypsy Vanner breed.

Red Carpet Expo - Gypsy Vanner owners have an opportunity to enter their registered GVHS horses into a Red Carpet Expo -­ a unique display of Gypsy Vanners from all over North America.

Welcome “The Vanner Girls”- The riders & their Vanner horses have come together to delight the audience with a special performance. This musical adventure, with a live singing performance by Alyssa Roy, will fill the arena with the sound of thundering hooves adorned with flowing feathers. Prepare to be dazzled by accomplished riders performing daring maneuvers in synchronized drills. Witness the agility and grace of the majestic Gypsy Vanner Horses at their best.

The Fair’s Red Carpet Expo has been designed to promote and enhance the breed, so register early to avoid disappointment.

Vanner Girls Team Challenge - Exciting, Fast & Fun Horsemanship. Teams, headed by the individual “Vanner Girls”, will participate in a series of timed and relay events including obstacles and skill-testing games designed to captivate the audience and highlight the skills of Gypsy Vanner horses of all ages, disciplines and training levels. Winning team will be determined based upon a combination of relay placing, highest points (considering times & faults), audience support and creativity!

The Red Carpet is not just a cliché. Open to all horse exhibitors, it provides the opportunity to be featured on an actual Red Carpet runway, guaranteed to impress any who see them strut their stuff.

Note: Red Carpet Expo Entry Criteria: all entries must be GVHS registered. Gypsy Vanner Horse Show Including: Halter Classes English Pleasure Western Pleasure Pleasure Driving Trail Obstacles Freestyle Dressage …and more!!


Top: 2013 Best-In-Fair Champion “Westmoreland Lottery Roulette” N’Co. Gypsy Vanners Bottom: 2013 Best-in-Fair Reserve Champion “Latcho’s Banner” DeerFields Stables Below: Presentation of Best-In-Fair Trophy with sculptor, June Brown

BEST-IN-FAIR TROPHY Created by June Brown, Best-in-Fair is the prestigious bronze sculptured Vanner Fair Trophy presented to the owner of the finest Gypsy Vanner at the event. The winner keeps the trophy for one year, presenting it to the new Best-In-Fair champion the following year. This is a highly-prestigious award for the breed. Reserve & Champion ‘BEST in FAIR’- These awards are based upon performance in the show classes, creativity of the farm display and general involvement, co-operation and participation of the recipients throughout VANNER FAIR. EXHIBITOR AWARD- In recognition of our appreciation to Exhibitors -­ both farm and vendors ­- the Vanner Fair committee will be awarding the Best Exhibitor Award to the exhibit that achieves the highest standards in display presentation and staffing. SPIRIT AWARD- The rider, handler and/or exhibitor whose fun, outgoing nature captures the audience’s attention. SPORTMANSHIP AWARD- cooperation in competition and with the extras…volunteering for demos, opening ceremonies, helping fellow competitors etc. YOUTH AWARD Hope you will all join us for the Vanner Fair 2015.

Megan Rose 66





By: Jackie Johnson

Every year, during the internationally acclaimed jumping tournament “Masters”, Spruce Meadows hosts a competition called the “TELUS Battle of the Breeds”. In this competition, up to 12 breeds compete against each other to determine which breed is the most versatile of them all. Each team is made up of four horses, and each team is required to enter two of its strongest horse/rider combinations in each of the following categories; Compulsory Skills, Precision Driving, Barrel Racing, Jeopardy Jumping and Trail Riding. Showcasing English, Western and Driving disciplines, the team that collects the most points will be declared the winners and prove themselves the most versatile breed. One of the most popular events at Spruce Meadows, TELUS Battle of the Breeds is perhaps the most comprehensive event which showcases breed versatility in head to head competition. 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, 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”!! 69



Following several months of practices, on the weekend of September 21-22, 2013 the girls came together to delight the audience with a special performance put together for the 2013 Vanner Fair Opening Ceremonies. This musical adventure, with a live singing performance by Alyssa Roy, filled the arena with the sound of thundering hooves adorned by flowing feathers. The audience was dazzled by these accomplished riders performing fast-paced maneuvers in synchronized drills as they witnessed the agility and grace of the majestic Gypsy Vanner Horse at their best.

Kaitlyn Worton has been riding at Deerfields Stables for a short period of time. Being new to the Gypsy Vanner world, she has quickly learned how truly incredible these horses are. Kaitlyn starting riding at the age of 7 and age 16 she began breaking and training young horses. She bought her first horse at 19 to start Eventing. Sadly she had to sell her Thoroughbred gelding a few years later due to limited time, when she started College in 2012. Luckily, she now has the free time to start riding again, and she was honoured and excited to join the Vanner Girl Team!

Shannon Hanley is the Stable Manager, Trainer and Coach at Deerfields Stables in Palgrave. Shannon enjoys working with this incredible breed, whether it is Riding, Driving, Jumping or Trail riding, she believes they really are the best ‘all round horse’. Shannon has taken Gypsy Vanners too many Riding Demos, including Equi- Challenge at Halton Place, The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, The All About Pets Show, as well as competing in OHTA Eventing with an unbelievable Gypsy Vanner, where they placed Second so far this season.

Shyla Cardy is sixteen years old, and the daughter of Rita Susgin from Vanner Manor of Welland, ON. She has had Gypsy Vanners for ten years now, and rides English, Western, and also Drives. Shyla has shown in the Spirit of the horse at the Royal Winter Fair since she was eight years old. She has also shown in 4H receiving Grand Champion Horse Showmanship in 2011 for the Niagara region. She and Vanner mare, Candy Queen, were the Reserve Champion at the 2011 Vanner Fair. She has also successfully shown at the Silver level in Dressage.

Kendra Taylor works as the main trainer for Wellington County Gypsy Vanner Horses in Elora, ON and also trains horses for other local farms. Focusing on showcasing Gypsy Vanner horses in the dressage discipline, Kendra along with Gypsy Vanner mare, Sasha, have shown successfully in dressage shows over the past several years, winning both local and provincial Championship titles; Champion- 2011 Conestoga CADORA Walk Trot Level, Champion-2012 Caledon Dressage Open Training Level, Reserve Champion - 2012 Ontario CADORA Open Training Level, Champion - 2012 Ontario CADORA Championships, Open Training Level.

The ‘Vanner Girls’ also got together to showcase the Gypsy Vanner Breed at the 2013 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, in Toronto, ON where they performed three times daily from November 8-10, 2013 at the President’s Choice Royal Animal Theatre and on the Sunday were a featured act in the Ricoh Coliseum!



Kastle Rock Gypsy Farm Sales and Breeding of Quality Gypsy Vanners Located in beautiful Eastern Ontario along the St. Lawrence River

Kelly Joyce

Mallorytown, ON, Canada • 613-923-8850 •



versatility & fun 73


FIRST PLACE 10 month old filly CaraVanner’s Avian Owner: Gypsy Caravaners Photo by: Gypsy Caravaners

HONORABLE MENTIONS The Page Turner Owner: Pauline Slonaker

Photo by: Jessica Welsh

KD’s Too Hot to Spot Owner: Terry Dockry

SECOND PLACE Play time for Rumsey Rumsey

Owner: Sonview Gypsy Ranch - Maria Gatt Photo by: Sonview Gypsy Ranch - Sonya Martin


Photo by: Kelly Searson


FIRST PLACE And so a love affair began... CaraVanner’s Avian Owner: Gypsy Caravaners Photo by: Gypsy Caravaners

SECOND PLACE (Tie) Macey James Purselley shows her spirit Westmoreland Quality Street

Owner: Dan & Christine Deerinwater Photo By: Christine Deerinwater

SECOND PLACE (Tie) These two are BEST FRIENDS. Hazel

Owner: Sonview Gypsy Ranch Photo by: Sonya Martin



FIRST PLACE This is the 1st photo we have of Avian... Less than a day old. CaraVanner’s Avian with Naomi Owner: Gypsy Caravaners Photo by: Gypsy Caravaners

HONORABLE MENTIONS Lakeridge Shannon Rose & Silver Khaleesi Owner: Christine & Dan Deerinwater Photo by: christine deerinwater

Kapriel & Huchi Kuchi SECOND PLACE Thomas and his best friend, the big red ball. BWG SIR THOMAS O’HENRI Owner: Benna Beyer Photo by: benna beyer


Owner: Reita Parham Photo by: Reita Parham


FIRST PLACE Turtle walking across Spencer’s pasture... Looking to see what it is moving by him. Spencer Owner: Julie Anthony Photo by: Julie Anthony


Owner: Katherine Mutti Photo by: Katherine Mutti


Owner: Reita Parham Photo by: Reita Parham

SECOND PLACE Our 2 month old blue eyed filly with our Blue Eyed Dwarf Nigerian Goat CaraVanners Her-Eyez-In-Blue Owner: Gypsy CaraVanners Photo by: Gypsy Caravanners



FIRST PLACE Grandsons waiting or the parade to start Raven and Meeka Owner: Dan & Christine Deerinwater Photo by: Christine Deerinwater


Owner: Julie Anthony Photo by: Pics of You

SECOND PLACE Very proud to win Reserve Champion mare at Williamston, NC. WR SUNDANCE OWNER: AMANDA MUIR PHOTO BY: GORDON MUIR


GB Shahan

OWNER: Joanna Kelsey PHOTO BY: Katherine Muttii


FIRST PLACE 5 month old Filly Caravanners Avian OWNER: Jenifer Lynch PHOTO BY: JENIFER LYNCH



Owner: Katherine Mutti Photo by: Katherine Mutti

Gitt Legally Blonde

SECOND PLACE Playtime in the water. WR Sundance

OWNER: Michele and Gordon Muir PHOTO BY: GORDON MUIR





Touching Equine Gypsy Vanners touching hearts and lives By: Samantha VanSickle

Touching Equine is a program that was started by CJ & Samantha VanSickle, owners of Starfire Gypsy. The program offers equine outreach events at and around their farm located in Northern California. One of the most popular and regularly held events is the bi-weekly field trips provided for the local Easter Seals program. Each visit involves nine of the Easter Seal’s clients coming out to the farm, along with three of their staff members in a specially designed bus that allows for non-ambulatory access. They spend the afternoon getting to meet the horses one-on-one, watching performances that range from a quick, impromptu game of equine soccer to a musical freestyle and everything in between. During foaling season they get to meet the new foals and watch while they enjoy some playtime in the arena with their dams. They also get to help name the foals and as the program continues they have been able to watch the foals they have helped name grow up. These regular visits have become a much anticipated event for both the humans and the horses on the farm. The interactions that transpire between horse and human regularly bring a tear to the eye with their simple sweetness and open exchange of mutual love and adoration. It is common to see the horses that are pastured along the drive, run up to the gates to meet the bus as it approaches the barn at the top of the hill. Many times, the bus will stop at each pasture so the visitors can call their hellos to their Vanner friends and these words of greeting are always met with a whinny or nicker of greeting in return. When the bus reaches the parking area in front of the barn, we are there to greet them with one of their Vanner friends as the client’s happily disembark from the bus and line up to start saying hi and exchanging “hugs” with the horses. Each visit brings a mix of new faces and longtime, well remembered friends. The returning clients take great pride in knowing the names of the horses and teaching them to the newcomers along with each of the individual horse’s favorite treats and preferred spots to be scratched. Once everyone is off the bus, they gather under the shade of one of the big, old oaks that shelter the lawn in front of the barn and we bring one of the Gypsy Vanners up for some “meet and greet” time. One by one, each visitor steps up to greet the warm, velvet muzzles with kind and sometimes timid hands. A connection is made with each gentle exchange and you can watch as both human and horse visibly softens.

Once everyone has had their turn then it’s time to come line up along the arena for some fun and interactive entertainment. Visitors enjoy helping to keep track of the score during the equine soccer games and calling encouragement as goals are scored. When it’s time for the mares and their foals to come out and play everyone gets a chance to snuggle with the foals while being treated to the most prized gift, sweet foal kisses. The mares can tell that their babies are in the best hands and watch on peacefully as their precocious young ones go to each outstretched and waiting hand in turn. After everyone has gotten their turn then the mares and foals are turned out to play in the arena accompanied by applause for their adorable antics and acrobatic leaps and bounds as they play. At the end of the visit the horses and their new found friends take a moment to say their farewells until the next visit. As the bus heads back down the drive, each horse comes back to gates that line the drive to whinny their goodbyes as well, knowing that they will be seeing them again soon. These events have become an integral part of life here at Starfire and though we spend a good deal of our time on the road attending shows as well as on our breeding and training programs, the Touching Equine program will always be at the heart of what we strive for. These horses are a gift and a blessing to all they meet and to have the opportunity to share them in this way is our greatest pleasure. We also attend other outreach events in our area and are looking for ways to incorporate this program into our travels across the country. The Gypsy Vanner breed lends itself naturally to this type of program. They love people and enjoy human interaction. They offer a part of themselves every time they interact with us and the joy and comfort they bring is worth more than all the gold and jewels in the world. This is one of the many reasons that the Gypsy Vanner legacy will be a part of the equine community for many years to come. To get more information on the Touching Equine program and to see more pictures as well as video you can visit www.starfiregypsy. com and you can also follow the program on Facebook at equine and starfiregypsy.




Presentation the


By: Samantha VanSickle Starfire Performance & Gypsy Vanners

Preparing you and your Gypsy Vanner for the show ring


hether you are a breeder looking to showcase the Gypsy Vanners in your program, an avid competitor who loves the thrill of competition or an owner looking for new ways to enjoy the bond you share with your feathered friend, the show ring provides a wonderful opportunity to show off your Vanner. No matter what our different goals may be, we all have one thing in common; we all want to put our “best hoof ” forward when we step into the ring. When showing, first impressions become lasting impressions and we need to keep in mind that judges only have a limited amount of time in which to evaluate each class. The way you present yourself and your Gypsy Vanner can have an overwhelming effect on your placing in a class.



Good presentation starts at home with proper conditioning and training. A well-conditioned horse will stand out in the show ring and be able to perform with ease whereas showing a horse that is out of shape can be physically and mentally taxing which can lead to behavior issues in the ring and health concerns later on. You should be familiar with the judging criteria, requirements and patterns for each of the classes you plan to enter. Take the time to practice these patterns with your horse at home until you are both comfortable preforming the required movements. Horses that are going to be shown in halter classes need to be able to lead readily at the walk and

trot, square up and stand quietly, while willingly allowing a judge to check their teeth and run their hands over their body and down their legs. Just as it is hard to hit a moving target, it is very difficult for a judge to evaluate a horse that won’t stand still. Horses being shown under saddle need to be able to work quietly on the rail, be comfortable working in a confined area with other horses, stand quietly in a line up and back up readily. It is imperative that you familiarize yourself with the rules and requirements for each show as they can change depending on show. The next element of good presentation is proper, well fitted tack and attire. Take the time to properly fit the tack you will be using to your horse. Do this well enough in advance of the show so that you will have time to make any necessary adjustments or alterations if needed. Ill-fitting tack will detract from your overall presentation and can also lead to performance issues and safety hazards. Once your tack is properly fitted, cleaned and polished, keep it organized so that it will be easily accessible at the show for quick tack changes if necessary. Your attire in the show ring should be neat, clean and professional. Choose colors that are either neutral or compliment your horse; jewelry, if worn, should be subtle. If you have long hair then it should be contained in a bun or hairnet so as not to obstruct the judge’s view of your exhibitor’s number. Practice working

in-hand and/or riding in your show clothes at home to make sure that everything fits properly and allows for the necessary freedom of movement. Remember that your job is to compliment your horse and a strong attention to detail will stand out while making a positive impression. A very important element of presentation is grooming and turnout. Making sure that your Vanner is immaculately turned out when you walk into the show ring is not only a positive reflection on you and your farm but it is also a sign of respect to the judge. Judges can and will take cues from a handler or rider. If you enter the show ring with your Gypsy Vanner poorly turned out it tells the judge that you do not take pride in your horse and if you aren’t proud of your horse then why should the judge be? Know your horse and know what it takes to get him/her looking their best before you leave for a show. It is never a good idea to wait till the last minute to start the grooming process. If your Vanner has a light colored coat and stains are an issue, start working on those stains the week before the show. If possible, give your Vanner a thorough bath the day before you leave so that you don’t have to spend as much time in the wash racks at the show. Put together a bag with the grooming supplies you use for your show ring prep and make sure you have that handy by the warm up area for quick touch-ups before you go into your class. Try to avoid using too many oil based “shine” products as they can attract the dust and dirt. Your best bet for a healthy, shiny coat is to develop it at home through the use of quality grooming products and a healthy, wellbalanced diet. There are plenty of products on the market that can temporarily add shine to your horse’s coat but nothing stands out like the gleam of hair that is healthy from the inside out. And the last element of presentation is show ring conduct. At most shows there will be a ring steward at the gate that will let you know when your class is coming up. Remember that this is only a courtesy and it is ultimately your responsibility to make sure you are at the gate in time for your class. The ring steward will also let you know if there are specific instructions from the judge as to which direction or gait to enter the ring at. As you enter the ring make sure to leave a safe distance between yourself and the horse in front of you. In a halter class line up you want to leave at least one horse length between you and the horse in front of you to give yourself enough room to make corrections while setting your Vanner up for inspection. In a ridding class if you need to pass a slower horse always leave enough room between you and the other horse while passing so as to avoid affecting the other horse’s performance. Always be polite and courteous to the judge(s) and show officials as well as the other competitors. Professionalism and good sportsmanship go hand in hand. When you step into the show ring you should always do so with confidence. That confidence comes from the days, weeks, months and years spent preparing for these moments. Our Gypsy Vanners give us everything they have, their absolute best, everyday… and it is our responsibility to do the same for them.



Vanner V


An attractive trait of the Gypsy Vanner in addition to its eye catching beauty is its ability to perform well in many equine disciplines. In today’s economy and horse industry a horse that can prove worthy in several areas immediately has value. This breed has a true work ethic of pleasing the human in their lives. It is something that has to be experienced to understand. Intended for driving by its Gypsy creators, its North American owners asked the question, “What can the pretty pony do? The response was an overwhelming, “Whatever you want me to do!” It soon almost became a challenge to see if they could cut cattle, race around barrels, trail ride, and could they jump? Owners who put them to the test surprisingly found that these draft based horses were taking on things no one would have thought they could.

As owners gave them new challenges the owners themselves grew; became braver; some people who had given up on riding found them-

selves in the saddle again because they now had a safe, trustworthy horse to carry them on new adventures. Vanners taken to training barns began to capture the hearts of long time professionals who found working with the breed energizing, exciting, and just plain fun! Stories began to come in one after another; this new breed could do it all. While driving, riding in shows, over trails, with cows, jumping, showing skill in dressage, or as a child’s first pony, they were calm, smart, and appeared to exhibit an innate desire to please. Those early pictures showed big smiles and looks of disbelief at the capabilities being demonstrated by this chunky, hairy, horse. Eighteen years into the introduction, the breed is setting the bar higher and higher and taking its owners on the ride of their lives. What can a Vanner do? Just ask our members, owners, and breeders, or better yet enjoy the photos – after all a picture is worth a thousand words.

Above left to right: Gypsy Vanner Shangri-la, running barrels!; Gypsy Vanner gelding, Spencer, with owner, Julie Anthony aboard during an endurance competition; Gypsy Vanner, Shangri-la, this time driving with owner, Kelly Joyce in the driver’s seat; GVHS Executive Director, Kathy Mutti, skijoring behind her stallion, Alaskan Winter. Below: Gypsy Vanner gelding, Gidion, with Josh Blackburn aboard rounding up Scottish Highland cattle.



ACTHA (American Competitive Trail Horse Association)

Trail Riding Fun! Shared by: Jane Howard

ACTHA rides have become popular all over the US and Canada. . Below is a brief explanation of what ACTHA is all about. ACTHA is the result of a life long addiction to horses of Carrie Scrima, our Founder. This unlikely passion developed while being born and raised in the Bronx of New York City. As a child she played with nothing but horse statues, she read nothing except horse books and when she learned of a place near by that trained police horses for the NYC Mounted Patrol she found a place to spend every spare moment of her young life. She was in good company since these trainers were among the best in the world. Many having Olympic credentials in all disciplines! After an appropriate break-in period of shining boots, cleaning tack and doing anything they could think of that a buck-toothed, red-headed 8-year old could do safely, they took pity and the lessons began. They’ve never really stopped. Having ridden with some of the top names in all the disciplines she marvels at how a good trail horse brings them all together. From her titles in the world of Intercollegiate Horse Showing culminating in being awarded the very first Inter-Collegiate All-American honor to riding with several trail organizations while training and competing in world class hunter jumper events or just driving buggies for fun... it just didn’t matter as long as a horse was involved. ACTHA is the culmination of this life long affair with the horse. Everything she has learned, every obstacle, every rule (of which their are few) represents the safest way she knows to introduce you and your horse to the skills you will need to be as safe as possible and heighten your enjoyment of the “Sport” of trail riding. FAQ’s:

What is a Competitive Trail Challenge (CTC)?

A Competitive Trail Challenge (CTC) is a casual trail ride competition that is a 6-8 mile trail ride with judged obstacles (mostly natural) along the way. Each obstacle has its own judge. It is not a timed event. You will have a ride out time (usually within 30-60 minutes) to head out on the trail. You are encouraged to ride with your group,

family, or friends. When you come to the obstacle & judge, you perform the obstacle one at a time. The trail rides usually take from 2-3 hours. After you come in from your ride, you can eat some lunch and be ready for the awards ceremony. Ribbons and prizes are given to 1st -6th place for Open, Pleasure, and the Junior divisions. Jackpot cash may also be awarded. These rides provide a natural setting for your horse and are a lot of fun! At the very least you will enjoy seeing great countryside on horseback and get to know a network of horse lovin’ trail riders such as yourself!

What is an ACTHA Obstacle Challenge (AOC)?

Held in an arena (indoor, outdoor, covered) or in a field; 8 ACTHA obstacles, 2-4 judges depending on the format chosen by the ride host. The straight in line format or the Gambler’s Choice format which allows up for each obstacle to be ridden twice. Riders enjoy an opportunity to further their horsemanship skills in an enclosed setting by completing a set of 8 obstacles along an obstacle course. Riders can bring multiple horses. Enjoy lunch and awards following the competition. Ribbons and ACTHA Bucks will be awarded for Open, Pleasure, and Junior Divisions 1st -3rd place. ACTHA Bucks will also be awarded for 1st-3rd place in the Scout Division. All obstacles at an AOC are ACTHA approved obstacles located on our OBSTACLES page, set at 60 seconds, giving 8-16 minutes total arena time.

I want to become a member, what do I do? Start by visiting: www/

The Promise “...allow us on your most vulnerable place, your back, and carry us to sights unseen, plow our fields, stand by us and die with us in war, build our tunnels and carry the riches to us from below the earth, give up your freedom to roam, teach us; and we in turn will take care of you” - TCS 85


Gypsy Vanners inDressage

By: Gillian Muir

Dressage 101:

Often times, when people think of dressage, they see the equestrian elite, dressed in top hat and tails, skipping and pirouetting around an arena as everyone watches in either awe or criticizes in hushed tones. Can our Vanners fit into this world? Absolutely! There is much more to the world of dressage than this image of the cream, just like the horses we have come to love. “Dressage” is the French word meaning “to train” and the riding style should be defined as a systematic method of developing the athletic ability in the horse to create the ultimate riding partner. Okay, yawn. But what does that really mean? Let’s think about what makes a horse enjoyable to ride. He goes when you tell him to go. He stops when you tell him to stop. He can maneuver into any direction you need, smoothly and balanced on all four legs. He uses his back as nature intended, without tension. He willingly accepts the cues from the rider. If you have ever worked toward any of these goals with your riding horse, guess what, you have done basic dressage.

The Gypsy Vanner in dressage competition:

The European Warmbloods dominate in the sport because they have been bred specifically for it, and to some extent the sport has been designed around their talents. Still, only exceptional animals of any type will ever make the top levels. That still does not mean other breeds cannot excel. The United States Dressage Federation (USDF) has implemented several programs that offer an opportunity to compete nationally, both as a breed and in the level being shown, such as the All-breed awards, level certifications, and Regional Championships.



One of the greatest assets the Vanner possesses is their temperament. They are smart, willing and calm. I believe this makes them a shoe in for an amateur owner. I know

when judges see these little drafts trot into the dressage arena, they expect sluggish and slow, with stiff, heavy movement. But we know these guys are “doers”. They have energy and drive and, best yet, it’s manageable. I also believe the quality and consistency of the young Vanners being produced these last few years is remarkable. I have seen some very well built horses with excellent gaits that are capable of moving up the levels of dressage that are still excellent examples of the breed standard. Let’s not forget, the Warmblood was originally a carriage horse! When looking for a Vanner dressage prospect, look at the gaits. The horse should have long reaching strides and track up, where the hind feet at least step into the hoof print of the front hoof if not past it, in the walk and the trot. The gaits should be pure, showing clear rhythm, with suspension in the trot and canter. The overall build should be balanced and square, with the croup level or lower than the withers, to encourage an “uphill” movement. Other than just good basic conformation, where the horses head attaches to the neck should be “clean” allowing for freedom of movement. The neck should be set on the shoulders fairly high. A long back is a weak back but an overly short back can make bending more difficult. The joints of the hind legs should allow the leg to stand under the body and not out behind them. Room between the elbow and ribcage can allow for more range of motion in lateral work (the fun, sideways stuff). I have found the Gypsy Vanner to generally be easy to sit, meaning their gaits are comfortable. This can be a big plus for the amateur rider. Their compact size can make them surprisingly easy to put together in a frame in spite of their bulk. I have found they tend to “rush” and get quick in their strides. Lots of transitions within and between gaits, learning to half-halt properly and the stretching correctly as found in training and first level helps this quite a bit. Suppling the Vanner with lateral work such

as leg-yields can help develop more reach in the trot and developing bending throughout their body is necessary.

Getting started:

Just like in any sport, a good coach makes the process quicker and will help guide the rider around any pitfalls on their way to the center line of the dressage arena. Go to the local dressage club, tack store or the internet for information to find the right trainer. One thing I have found after many years of teaching is that this is a very personal thing. The temperament of the rider, the instructor and the horse all need to mesh. Communication all around

is very important so the rider should feel comfortable with their trainer. Whether the owner hires a trainer to school and show their horse for them, or have an instructor help them get there themselves, one thing to remember is that while this is not an easy sport and there will be plateaus and frustrations, the rewards are great. The rider will have moments that will take her breath away. Dressage competitions are divided into levels, with 3 tests per level, starting at Introductory, and then Training, followed by First through Forth. After Forth, we delve into the world of the FEI, or international levels, which are just four tests currently, the first being Prix St. Georges, then Intermediate and finally Grand Prix

and Grand Prix Special. When deciding on which tests to compete in, it’s important to look at not only the movements of the test, but the directives listed beside the movements. These let the competitor know what the judges are looking for in each movement. Every test adds difficulty and every level shows a big jump in what is required of the horse. These tests are designed to help guide the training of the horse and there is a method to the madness. Generally, two tests are shown per day, with the easier Introductory or Training level possibly lending to showing in three classes. First level and above begin to ask for more intense work from the horse and to do more is just not fair on the animal. Once the rider has picked tests to perform, making her debut at a schooling or local show will give her an opportunity to get a feel for how to ride in competition and work out any kinks before diving into a “recognized” show. Most local dressage clubs offer these friendly practice shows and often have a small circuit to work toward year-end awards. They can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. The rider may also look into riding in a “ride-a-test” clinic. In these clinics, he performs the test and then the instructor will help him work through the rough spots. Sometimes they may ride the test again to compare. To compete at USEF/USDF recognized competition, the rider, owner and horse must have memberships and be registered with both clubs. This paperwork adds complication and expense but has become necessary to keep track of scores, etc. I have found judging at these shows to generally be stricter than what might be found at a schooling show. CDIs are internationally rated shows that offer FEI tests where the scores earned qualify for international level games. While USDF classes are offered, the expense is increased and the level of intensity is felt by all. Dressage shows are run a bit differently than the normal horse show. Riders must preregister, which allows the show management to set up a schedule ahead of time. Having the schedule in advance makes sure riders competing several horses have no conflicts and the classes can be 87

grouped together to make judging, scoring and placing the classes much easier. Also, warming up, especially upper level horses, can be an exact science. The rider will receive “ride times” several days before the competition. Once she is at the show, she will collect her number and be sure no changes have been made. She will know, to the minute, what time she is showing. Some schooling shows can be a little more accommodating and they tend to run a little off schedule depending on the judge. Recognized shows are more diligent. Usually a gatekeeper is on hand to let the rider know what horse she is following. When it is her turn, she will enter the area around the arena but not enter until the judge rings the bell. I like to take this time to make sure my horse gets a good look at the judges box and the photographer often on hand. After she rings the bell, the rider has 45 seconds to enter and begin the test. This is plenty of time and just ensures the show moves along. While the rider should know their test beforehand, she is allowed a “caller” to read the test as she goes. They can only read it as written and cannot add any pointers. If a rider goes “off course” the judge will ring the bell and help them get back on track. Points will be deducted and usually everyone ends up doing this eventually. 88

The actual tests are broken down into a series of “movements” and the judge scores each one from 0 (not performed) to 10 (perfect). 5 is sufficient so whenever a rider is above that, they know they are heading in the correct direction. Some movements have a coefficient which means the score is usually doubled. At the end of the test, there are a list of “collectives” which are overall scores, such as on the horse’s gaits, often with coefficients. After the ride is finished, the test sheets are collected and scored with an average. Usually above 50% is acceptable for the beginning rider. 60% says they are on the right track and 70% and above, it is time to move up a level. The rider will receive this test sheet with the scores and comments from the judge. These are a very handy training tool and it can be very interesting to look back and compare from the beginning to the end of a show season. Dressage is a beautiful and exacting sport where we all strive for perfection that we will only rarely achieve. That being said, it can be highly rewarding, especially in how it develops a rider’s relationship with their equine partner. Having such a willing and athletic partner as the Gypsy Vanner can make it that much more fun.

Breeding Art

One Gypsy Vanner at a Time ~ Artist June Towill Brown shares her passion, history of of Gypsy Vanners, throughout her artistry and travels ~

By June Towill Brown

Throughout my career as an interior designer and sculptor, there have been endless “Ah Ha” moments when undiscovered passions rise to the surface and find a path and place in my heart – and my business. One of the most significant paths that I have crossed is my discovery of the Gypsy Vanner breed and the endless steps that I continue to take to fuse this majestic creature into the many forms of art that have found their home in my studio at Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Be it through my bronze sculptures, or new Equine Sterling Silver Jewelry Collection, I have experienced a new birth ~ or breed if you will ~ in my artistry that now pays tribute to this magnificent breed. In reflection, it seems this revelation mirrors the process in which a new breed of an animal is born; in this specific case – the Gypsy Vanner which was originally bred with a dreamed image, a vision if you will, just after World War II. My vision started quite some time ago (albeit long after the War was over) while slipping away on a lazy afternoon with a copy of Cowboys and Indians magazine in one hand and tall glass of iced tea in the other. It was in this peaceful moment when I saw my first photograph of a Gypsy Vanner. Who would have thought that those few seconds would fuel the explosion of one of the biggest “Ah Ha” moments in my life? I first thought that this multi-colored herd of long mane and tail romping thru the pasture was not real. They reminded me of the carousel horses from the Merry-Go-Round in Willow Park

theme park in Pennsylvania growing up, many moons ago. Today, my studio looks like its own theme park commemorating those memories gone by. Although my fascination and true appreciation for the uniqueness of this breed was homegrown, I have been honored to travel throughout North America to not only share my artistry yet to be a true educator to those who question the history of a breed that at one time was only understood within the world of Gypsies. No matter where I travel, I continue to study the Vanner and all its originally-improbable colorations that I emulate today with custom finishes for my clients across the Borders. From stark shades of black and white to varying hues of tan, brown, grays and auburn blends – each bronze finish is a true representation and tribute to those who had the vision to create this brilliant breed so long ago. Within my new Equine Jewelry Collection, one will find an artistically balanced Sterling Silver or 14K Gold (scaled to size) Vanner horse accompanied on a necklace with fine stones of Lapis, Turquoise, Black Pearls and other fine gems. No matter what the finished piece may be, from casual to the most elegant, I still reflect back to the peaceful moment that started it all. As my appreciation continues to give birth to new opportunities to share my passion, I continue to embrace any opportunity to spread the word about the breed that we love and honor today. 89

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The Gypsy Vanners of Circle Four

Quality and Versatile Gypsy Vanner Horses for sale Standing: R oyal SupeRioR, lloydS of london and tom thumb Royal Superior Pictured Above | Ron Chauvin and Judy Campanaro | 519 833 9704


Weirsdale, florida





Weirsdale, florida



Presented by & FELICIA BRITT




High Points Awards Champions

WR Young Latcho Lou Shenandoah Gypsy Vanners



2013 High Point Horse Overall 2013 High Point Performance Horse 2013 reserve High Point halter Horse

High Points Awards Champions

WR Boo’s Miss Q by Latcho

2013 Reserve High Point Horse Overall 2013 High Point halter Horse 2013 High Point Performance - 5th place 2013 High Point Amateur Reserve Champion

Shenandoah Gypsy Vanners 95 95

High Points Awards Champions

grey ghost phantom Owner - Debbie Noonan


2013 High Point Amateur Champion 2013 reserve High Point Performance Horse 2013 High Point Overall- 3rd place 2013 High Point halter - 4th place

High Points Awards Champions Love Biscuit

Sharon Denise Weisberger

2013 High Point Overall- 4th place 2013 High Point Performance - 3rd place

N’Co Mr. Bikers Nightster Rita Ostrom

2013 High Point Overall- 5th place 2013 High Point Performance - 4th place 2013 High Point halter - 14th place



High Points Awards Champions

WR Sahara

Shenandoah Gypsy Vanners

2013 High Point Overall- 6th place 2013 High Point Performance - 11th place 2013 High Point halter - 3rd place

High Points Awards

N’Co So Hot I Sizzle

Rita and Rhianna Ostrom

98 98

2013 High Point Overall- 7th place 2013 High Point Performance - 6th place 2013 High Point halter - 9th place

High Points Awards

WR Sundance Gordon and Michelle Muir

2013 High Point Overall- 8th place 2013 High Point Performance - 12th place 2013 High Point halter - 5th place


High Points Awards

SCF Cushti’s Maximillian

2013 High Point Overall- 9th place 2013 High Point halter - 6th place

High Points Awards

Deborah Elam 100


Tali’s Royal Ronan Joe Mongravito

Shenandoah Gypsy Vanners

GG Amadeus

High Points Awards

2013 High Point Overall- 11th place 2013 High Point halter - 7th place

2013 High Point Overall- 10th place 2013 High Point Performance - 10th place 2013 High Point halter - 13th place

High Points Awards

Sovereign’s Titus Cherie Jackson

2013 High Point Overall- 12th place 2013 High Point halter - 8th place

High Points Awards

D’Jango Jazz

Richard and Wendy Dean


2013 High Point Overall- 13th place 2013 High Point Performance - 13th place 2013 High Point halter - 10th place

High Points Awards

Royal Superior Judy Campanaro

2013 High Point Overall- 15th place 2013 High Point Performance - 8th place

High Points Awards

Carly Simon

2013 High Point Overall- 14th place 2013 High Point Performance - 7th place

Judy Campanaro

High Points Awards

N’Co Headliners Understudy Rita Ostrom

2013 High Point Performance - 15th place 2013 High Point halter - 11th place

101 101

High Points Awards

N’ Co Biker Babe

2013 High Point Performance - 14th place 2013 High Point halter - 12th place

High Points Awards

Judy Campanaro 102


King’s Rendition Jason Adams

Polly Slonaker

Vincenzo Bellini

High Points Awards

2013 High Point Performance - 9th place

2013 High Point halter - 15th place

Mor e


First place winner

N’Co Mr. Bikers Nightster Rita Ostrom 104


Second place winner

N’Co So Hot I Sizzle Rita and Rianna Ostrom 105


third place winner SCFs Classic Harley Gale Rempel

fourth place winner Grey Ghost Phantom Debbie Noonan



fifth place winner Westmoreland Come Fly With Me Shannon Johnson

sixth place winner WR Sundance Gordon and Michelle Muir 107

Seventh place winner Harry Houdini Laurel Boyer

Eighth place winner Segway Clarice Francis


Ninth place winner Tali’s Royal Ronan Joe Mangravito

Tenth place winner Gidion Jane Howard


Chocolate Mount Vernon, Missouri


Established in 2000, Chocolate Horse Farm has been promoting the Gypsy Vanner to the public. Located in the SW corner of Missouri it is home to twenty six horses, seventeen of which are Gypsy Vanners. Something for everyone comes true at CHF including driving vehicles, and as always a good place to learn about the breed that has caught the imagination of the public. Talbot’s Sparky, herd sire and known to locals as ‘That Black Stallion’ makes his presence known by producing outstanding babies born with a desire to be your best friend.

~ Carol & David Dunbar~ 417.461.1255 | | 417-366-1474 |


vanner Gypsy Vanner mare Miki Moto receiving a Reiki treatment


To Geld or Not to Geld? By: Robin Visceglia

For those of us in the Gypsy Vanner Breed we have usually spent excessive sums of money and time to acquire and/or breed a horse. There is a 50/50 chance that the offspring will be a colt. Out of those colts less than 10% have the chance to be a genetic superstar. There are many reasons that horse owners do not want to geld their colts or stallions. If you own a stallion or colt that is not part of a well thought out breeding program it should be gelded and not used for breeding purposes. By a well thought out program I am referring to a breeding program that has breed preservation as one of its goals. We need good genetics to preserve the Gypsy Vanner breed. With the ease of shipping semen most mare owners have access to the top genetic superstars in the breed. Is your breeding program a well thought out and executed plan – or are you just trying to make some money on your investment by breeding your mare and stallion hoping you will have a commodity to sell? Horse owners have an emotional attachment to their stallion for various reasons. This is the part where men cringe when I discuss castrating horses at our farm. They instinctively reach for their own family jewels at the mere mention of gelding. Stallions are not people. People can control their instincts to breed. Stallions think about nothing else when it comes springtime and hormones are thick in the air. People bond to their stallions because they have become the stallion’s herd. I was recently talking to our head trainer, Daisy Fouts, and she was explaining stallion behavior when it comes to training. She said because a stallion has limited or no interaction to any other horses that they rely on their “person” as their companions. They typically never get to bond with another horse. A stallion lives in a small paddock or stall with no chance to interact with the herd. No playing, no grooming, no lessons learned from the mare who might not be interested in his sexual prowess. So as his person, you become his surrogate herd. Now you really can’t bear to geld him because he is so special and he is your special stallion. Have you ever been around a stallion with other horses when it is breeding season? Unless you are a professional it is dangerous to be between a stallion and a mare in season even if it is a Gypsy Vanner Stallion. Those “Golden Retrievers with Hooves” are nowhere to be found when a mare is in heat around a stallion. So think about that young colt in your pasture or that stallion in your barn. Is he really top breeding potential. Does he already have top babies on the ground? Is he winning in the show ring? Has he been evaluated and received top scores as a potential breeding stallion? Most importantly is he happy and are you happy with him. Do you trust him at all times to behave like a gentleman? Is he healthy or does he run the fence line loosing weight and giving him an ulcer.

Spencer, GVHS gelding, proudly owned by Julie Anthony. Spencer is a versatile athlete competing in driving, endurance, and trails.

If you breed only two to four mares a year it is more economical to buy semen than standing a stallion. Most importantly it is an opportunity for you to improve and preserve the Gypsy Vanner breed by breeding your mare to a genetic superstar. Now go out there and enjoy your gelding!

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Grooming hints and tips for your Gypsy Vanner By: Samantha VanSickle


One of the many stunning trademarks of the Gypsy Vanner breed is their abundant hair and we all love seeing that well groomed, healthy glow on our Vanners. Grooming is a part of every horse owner’s life and whether you are preparing your Vanner for a show, getting ready to hit the trails or just spending some quality bonding time with your feathered friend. This article looks at some helpful hints, tips and tricks that can make grooming sessions easier and more productive.

Basic Grooming:

• Mud and dirt have a tendency to dry out your Vanner’s hair. Make sure to start each grooming session with a vigorous rub down with a rubber curry. This will bring dirt and dander to the surface of the coat for easy removal with a body brush. It will also help to stimulate circulation and encourage production of the natural oils produced by the skin for a beautiful, healthy shine. • When combing your Vanner’s mane and tail always start at the ends and work your way up. Hold each section of hair in your hand, right above where you are working so that you can accurately gauge the amount of tension or strain that you are applying to the hair. If you hit a spot that is tangled or snarled, stop brushing and apply detangler to that section of hair. Then work through the knot using your fingers to gently separate the hairs until you can run the comb through the hair without it breaking off or tearing out the strands. • When working on the mane and tail, use grooming tools specifically designed for this task. Human hairbrushes can break the hair and pull it out at the root. Look for combs with wide set teeth as they are less likely to get snagged in your Vanner’s hair. • In the wintertime it can be too cold for a proper bath but that never seems to deter our Vanner’s from playing in the mud. If you need to remove mud or dirt from a mane or tail you can use a warm, damp washcloth. Take one section of hair at a time, starting at the root, wrap the cloth around the hair and work your way down. Make sure to rinse the cloth and ring it out well so it doesn’t drip onto the horse’s body. • To help protect against skin infections make sure to regularly disinfect grooming brushes and combs. If you have a new horse come in it can be helpful to have an extra set of grooming tools to use for the first few weeks. This way you won’t accidentally pass a fungal or other type of infection to your other Vanners at the farm. • Always try to rinse the sweat off of your Vanner after exercise as sweat build up can lead to rubbing and it can also accelerate coat fading in the sun. If it is too cold for a quick rinse, make sure to give them a good rubdown with a clean towel or cloth and then remove any sweat residue with a brush when the coat is dry.

Bath Time:

• Invest in quality shampoos and conditioners that are formulated for equine use. While products designed for humans will work in a pinch, some brands can leave your Vanner’s hair dry and brittle. Our personal favorite is the EquiFuse product line because their non-drying formulas add moisture and shine back into the hair without using harsh chemicals that damage the hair and leave unnecessary buildup. • After applying your shampoo and conditioner, make sure to thoroughly rinse paying special attention to the base of the tail and the crest. Product residue can not only clog the pores leading to slower hair growth but it can also cause rubbing due to skin irritation. • When washing a very thick mane it can be helpful to shampoo it in two stages. Start on the ‘outside’, where the hair naturally lies then flip the mane over to the other side of the neck and start the whole process again. • When washing you Vanner’s mane or tail you can stimulate hair growth by vigorously massaging the root bed with your fingertips. This also loosens up any dead skin or other irritants that inhibit the production of hair from the follicles. • For conditioning especially thick manes and tails it can be helpful to mix your conditioner with water and apply with a spray bottle. This will allow you to evenly distribute the product throughout the hair and it will help cut down on waste. • Protect your Vanner’s tail while it dries by tying it up in a slip knot. This will keep the tail up off the ground while it dries, helping to keep it clean. • Hair stretches when it is wet which actually makes it more forgiving. While your Vanner’s mane or tail is drying you can gently pick through it by hand, separating the strands and removing small tangles. This way when the hair dries it will lie neatly and be easier to comb.



• Braiding of the mane and tail, if done correctly and maintained can be a great way to protect you Vanner’s hair from UV damage, reduce tangles and promote growth. • When you are braiding the mane try to start each braid a couple inches from the crest so as not to put unnecessary stress and tension on the root. Tails can be braided into one large braid or multiple smaller braids depending on the thickness of the tail. Braids can then be put into tail bags or socks to further reduce damage from dirt and sun. • Braids should be taken out periodically so the hair can be cleaned and conditioned. This will also ensure that the hair doesn’t become matted and tangled from rolling or swishing at flies. • When you take out the braids make sure to straighten the hair using your fingers, rather than a brush or comb. The hair can be wavy from being in the braid and combing it will only make it frizzy. The best way to remove the waves is to wash and moisturize the hair before combing and re-braiding it. • Remember that wet hair will contract as it dries so plan accordingly if you braid your Vanner’s hair while it is still wet. • Because the natural oils your horse produces will have a harder time traveling down the hair shaft while it is braided you want to make sure that the hair is properly conditioned before it is put into braids as it will only continue to dry out further. • When securing braids you want to be careful using rubber bands as they can easily tangle in the hair causing breakage. I recommend either bands that are covered in fabric or my personal favorite is banding or electrical tape as they are easy to remove and leave no residue. This article is brought to you by The Hair Affaire and was written by Samantha VanSickle of Starfire Vanners &



Surviving Acute Laminitis via a Combination of Traditional and Alternative Therapies In November, 2005 at the age of 40, I purchased my very first horse named Pearly a Gypsy Vanner! I was SO excited! She was also in foal so we would soon be welcoming another into our barn. That foal was born on St. Patrick’s Day, 2006 and was the most adorable filly I had ever laid eyes on! She captured my heart at the very moment she came into this world. Her name is Miki Moto. She grew and played and grew and played such as baby horses do. Miki kept growing surpassing her dam’s height of 14.3hh to the height of 15.1hh. Miki also grew outward, my vets and trainers called her an ‘easy keeper’. As time would pass, we added additional Vanners to our barn and several were quite ‘healthy’, but none like Miki Moto. We had cut back on her feed/grain/hay and tried to ensure she got more exercise but nothing ever produced much of a weight loss for her. She had developed a very slight lameness, only when going to the left in a circle. We had vets look at it and treated her with the usual glucosamine, etc. but it would still reappear. We decided to take her to a lameness specialist in our area to see what he could determine. He blocked her and gave an injection, Vetalog (Triamcinolone) a corticosteroid, in her left front coffin joint and that seemed to do the trick. He recommended bringing her back later to do both, so we did six months later. Miki was 5 ½ years old. Now the story really begins. Five days later when I went out to

feed, I found her unwilling to walk to her grain bin (very atypical for Miss Piggy!). Being a relatively new horse owner, I had never encountered founder so I didn’t know what was going on. I called my vet and he asked me several questions and said he thought it sounded like founder. Since he had just done the coffin joint injections five days previously, he did have a slight concern that it could be an infection in the joint from those. The vet came out that night and determined that, indeed it was founder/laminitis. We immediately began the typical veterinary recommended medication routine (Bute, Ace, Iso Tabs). The vet recommended icing her front hooves and getting her into the clinic so they could do baseline x-rays. The next day we attempted to get her to load into the trailer but she refused. She was in SO much pain and it appeared to me that her hind feet were hurting too (she would stand and lift one and then shift her weight and lift the other). The vet said this would be VERY rare but I really needed to get her to the clinic. My trainers were kind enough to help us, it took way more “encouragement” for her to push through the pain and load into the trailer than her sensitive momma (me) could do. Once at the clinic, they x-rayed all 4 feet and it showed slight rotation already in the hind feet. The vet then began to explain her condition to us. This was “acute steroid-induced laminitis” triggered by the coffin joint injections. It was only the second time in his 38-year career that he’d seen it and he’d never seen it in all 4 feet before. 117

He noted several issues of concern for her: • her size/weight, close to 1500 lbs., and the fact that all 4 feet were affected and there would be no way for her to get relief from the pain other than lying down. • he feared the worst would be “sinking”, where the coffin bone actually sinks down and protrudes through the bottom of the sole, if that occurred as he described…“it’s game over”. As you can imagine, I was hearing this through a stream of tears and sobs. I was totally devastated at the thought of possibly losing her. I have a very strong faith in God and began praying for the Lord to heal her if it be His will. Within 5 days, she laid down SO much that she developed pressure wounds on her hip & shoulder. It was a catch-22, we wanted her to lie down so she could get relief from her hoof pain, but we were fighting, trying to keep those wounds clean and infection-free. A horse friend recommended adding natural peat moss to her stall bedding in the areas where she laid. Indians used it, back in the day, to help fight against infection, packing wounds etc. So we tried it and that truly seemed to help! (although it didn’t help her gorgeous white coat) but we weren’t trying to win a beauty contest at that point either! The second day at the vet’s clinic, I met the vet’s farrier who only looked briefly at one hoof but said he wouldn’t do anything to her right now. (She was due for a trim but he felt she was too fragile to withstand that). I had emailed close friends asking for prayer for Miki Moto and had heard back from one who recommended a barefoot trimmer in her area who has been known to work with foundered horses and save them. I gave them a call on my way to meet the vet’s farrier. The way he described to me what was going on and how barefoot trimming could help her made sense to me, physiologically it just made sense. Founder, otherwise known as “laminitis”, is when the lamina (lining on the inside of the hoof wall) is traumatized and loosens, which then gives NO support to the coffin bone, allowing it to rotate and/or sink. He said he would recommend putting a ‘mustang roll’ on the hoof where the hoof wall didn’t actually make contact with the ground, thereby lessening the sheering effect she would receive with each painful step. He guarded against putting her in boots with raised heels. He said that would be like if I had an ingrown toenail and they put me in high heels, OUCH!! He and his wife actually drove 2 hours to my vet’s clinic that very evening to see her. She was in such pain she laid down the whole time he was there looking at her hooves. It would be 2 weeks later that we would sedate her in order for him to do the trim and it took 2 hours! They also recommended doing Reiki therapy on her, which is a Japanese form of laying on of hands to


promote healing energy. A Reiki Master came several times and you can see the picture of Miki Moto with her head in the lady’s lap. She was laying down the entire first session! She remained at the vet’s for another week post-trim and seemed to improve ever so slightly on the pain scale. While at the vet’s, we had her tested for EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome) and her levels were double the high end of normal! This is a condition similar to diabetes in humans and makes a horse very prone to laminitis. So basically, she was way more than an ‘easy keeper’, she was a ticking time bomb. We switched her grain to a low-starch formula of Total Equine and I have since switched all 6 of my Vanners to this for their health/weight. The vet limited her diet to 2 flakes of hay twice a day and a small amount of grain and she did, finally begin to drop some weight. The barefoot trimmer recommended I start giving her herbs formulated specifically for her issues. They are made by For Love of the Horse and prepared by a PhD. I would highly recommend them to any horse owner- - they carry formulas for many different equine conditions!! I began giving her Hoof Ailments, Hoof Health & Growth, and EMS/Insulin Resistance formulas - 5 scoops each and 3 times a day! She remained on 2 gm of Bute each day + a dose of Ulcer Gard (to protect her stomach) each day for almost 1 year! I know, no one believes me when I tell them that! She is the BEST horse patient ever, so compliant. Miki was stalled for a solid 3 months after which her turnout time was slowly, gradually increased. We also invested in Soft Ride Boots (recommended & ordered by the vet) that have specially designed gel pad inserts for horses with laminitis and they seemed to help with her pain tolerance also. (The boots don’t have raised heels so the trimmer approved them!) She wore them both stalled as well and when turned out for over a year. As will happen with laminitis, she blew abscesses, over and over and over again. All that dead tissue (lamina) wants out and it has to come out one of two ways, out of the coronary band (where the leg meets the hoof) or out the bottom of the sole. She’s had both on all four feet. We had to keep them wrapped, to keep them clean and change the wrapping typically bi-weekly. When they were on the sole, we spooned on a poultice (Magna Paste) to draw the infection out and wrapped a baby diaper (size 4) around her hoof and then used very strong vet wrap (Lightplast Pro) around that. It was certainly a process but I knew it had to be done. What about all her feathers you ask? What did I do about her feathers being in the way? Well, I had to cut them off, in fact I had to cut them off a total of 9 times during this ordeal. It’s been 2 ½ years now and we’re still not totally healed. She still has about 2” left to grow out on her hind feet (those were/are always the worst). We

still experience bouts with abscesses which are VERY painful and cause her to be lame and stalled for periods of time. The barefoot trimmer wanted to do her trims every 6 weeks and the vet wanted to come out and do a set of x-rays on the same day, in order to give him the best insight possible into what was going on with each individual foot. We have, and still continue to do that, 2 ½ years later! The worst rotation she had was about 12o on one of her hind feet and that is almost all corrected now. She turns out 24/7 when she is feeling well, and in her stall when she isn’t. She runs around the pasture with her mom and sister and you would otherwise consider her “normal”. Although we all know she is far from normal . . . she is a true miracle! My vets have all said how they are amazed at her recovery and tell people she is a walking miracle! So, given my experience, I would highly recommend using a combination of traditional veterinary medicine alongside alternative therapies to get you through a laminetic episode successfully. I have to tell you, it was very expensive and extremely time consuming!

(example – you can’t give the herbs within 2 hrs of medication and I was giving herbs 3 times/day, so I was out there with her 5-6 times a day for a year!) I realize many people would not or could not afford to invest the time or money, but to me she was and is worth it! I hope my story has been of help to some of my fellow Vanner owners and will hopefully enable you to have as wonderful an outcome as I have had with my Miki Moto!! Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or need help. This is not something you can face alone! Hoof Speed ~ Ginger Green Green Heritage Ranch 1304 CR 330 Milano, TX 76556 832-334-2363 cell



Thank Y

Who’s Your Daddy?

A few Vanner Health Tips from Aunt Fannie Vanner

Whinnnnnnnie, (Greetings from Aunt Fannie), Let’s talk about nutrition which is of great importance for the Gypsy Vanner breed. The breed was originated from crossing draft horses, namely the Shire and Clydesdale with the Dales pony breed of Great Britain. The draft and pony breeds were bred for various types of work plus they were economical to keep. These breeds could deliver the maximum amount of work for the minimal amount of cost to feed. The end result is many draft and pony breeds are what we could consider “easy keepers” and do not require large amounts of forage or feed to be able to maintain their weight and muscle tone. The Romani Gypsy people needed a horse smaller than the draft and larger than the pony to pull their caravans, plus have a mystical beauty about them. The Romani Gypsies created a breed of horse, the Gypsy Vanner through selective breeding to fulfill their needs and one which they as a culture could call their own. Fast forward to 1996 the Romani Gypsy Vanner breed was first introduced to the United States of America thanks to Cindy and Dennis Thompson. Today we have wonderful commercial feeds available,two of the most widely used are Purina and Nutrena. Both commercial feeds are quality controlled and packed with essential nutrients plus both have a wide variety selection for different needs. The minimum amount recommended by either Purina or Nutrena guarantees we are getting all the vitamins and nutrients required and is quite sufficient for maintenance of the mature, non-breeding or young Gypsy Vanner horse. Add salt blocks plus good pasture, hay and the most necessary nutrient of all, fresh, clean water. Minerals, vitamins, iodized salt, probiotics and prebiotics are included in both of these types of feed so usually supplements for those ingredients are not necessary. A brief survey of members throughout North America has revealed most feed one of the various selections of Purina. Now let’s talk about the mature Vanner. What would one need to review before giving us a generous helping of delicious feed? Body condition scoring may very well be the first step. This method takes into account more than just our weight to determine our overall

health. We as a breed have such a range of height, weight and bone structure that one type of measure won’t help our owners determine which type of feed and how much is optimum for our health. Next we delve into what is in commercial feeds. Three of the main sources of energy in horse feed are complex carbs, simple carbs and fat. Complex carbs require bacterial fermentation in the hindgut in order to be broken down, typically come from common hays, alfalfa, grain hay (oat) and grass hay (bermuda). Other sources of complex carbs are highly fermentable super fibers such as beet pulp and soybean hulls. Super fibers provide a greater quantity of calories than typical forages and are used when starch must be limited. Simple carbs/starch are usually barley, corn, oats, wheat and rice and maybe molasses which is usually found in sweet feed. Another type of simple carb/starch is the feeding of bread which is quite common with Gypsy breeders and some breeders in North America. Bread, primarily wheat flour, is a source of starch which digests in the small intestine to glucose which is then absorbed causing a ‘sugar rush’. This can lead to metabolic disturbances such as insulin resistance. Any starch not digested goes on to be rapidly fermented in the large intestine which may cause excessive gas production which could lead to colic and possibly laminitis. If bread is fed at all it should be minimal. Fat is the last source and is being used more by manufacturers as it tends to be highly digestible and provide 2-1/2 times more energy than an equal weight of carbohydrate. It also helps reduce the dustiness of feeds and aids in the absorption of fat soluble nutrients such as vitamin E. Vegetable, soybean, corn oil, rice bran, flax and fish oil are all sources of fat. Flax and fish oil are becoming more in demand with higher end feeds because of the elevated levels of omega 3 fatty acids than the omega 6 fatty acids in corn oil for fatty acid balance. The level of fat in commercial horse feed has increased in recent years as manufacturers have sought to decrease energy from starch. 121

Pasture turnout is essential to our health and well-being. We exercise and socialize. Although too much lush pasture is not recommended because of weight gain which in turn can lead to so many ailments, so limit time in the pasture and lounge in a dry paddock if your owner has too much of a good thing. Good quality horse hay can be weighed to ensure the proper amount is being fed, usually the maximum amount of 0.025 x body weight = pounds of hay for maintenance and 0.0225 times body weight for weight loss when not breeding. But of course one should continue to monitor body condition utilizing the BCS when feeding forage and hay. Body condition scores can be most helpful in determining the health of stallions, broodmares and young growing Vanners. Prior to breeding season, stallions and broodmares should be in the 6-7 BCS range (See chart below). Monitoring of youngsters utilizing the BCS, body condition score, is highly recommended to alleviate stresses on bone, joints and muscle tissue. Our owners will want us to be within the 5-7 BCS range for optimum health and performance.

fat can be felt around it, withers, shoulders and neck not obviously thin.

The Body Condition Scoring System; developed by Dr. R. Henneke and associates at Texas A&M University in 1983, this system is used for all equine breeds including drafts and ponies. Each individual horse, it’s use, the breed and body frame must be taken into account when using this scoring system.

5. Moderate – Back is flat ( no crease or ridge ) ribs not visually distinguishable but easily felt, fat around tailhead beginning to feel spongy, withers appear rounded over spinous processes, shoulders and neck blend smoothly into body.

1. Poor - Horse is extremely emaciated; spinal column is easily discernable, ribs, tailhead, bone structure of withers , shoulders and neck easily noticeable, no fatty tissue can be felt.

6. Moderately Fleshy – May have slight crease down back, fat over ribs spongy, fat around tailhead soft, fat beginning to be deposited along the side of the withers, behind the shoulders, and along the sides of the neck.

2. Very Thin – Horse is emaciated, slight fat covering over base of spinous processes, transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae feel rounded, spinuous processes ribs and tailhead prominent and neck structure is faintly discernable.

7. Fleshy – May have crease down back, individual ribs can be felt but noticeable filling between ribs with fat, fat around tailhead soft, fat deposited along withers, shoulders and neck.

3. Thin – Fat buildup about halfway on spinous processes, transverse processes cannot be felt, slight fat cover over ribs, spinous processes and ribs easily discernible. Tailhead prominate, but individual vertebrae cannot be identified visually, withers shoulders and neck accentuated. 4. Moderately Thin – Slight ridge along back, faint outline of ribs discernible, tailhead prominence depends upon conformation,

8. Fat – Crease down back, difficult to feel ribs, fat around tailhead very soft, area behind shoulder filled with fat, noticeable thickening of neck, fat deposited along inner thighs. 9. Extremely Fat – Obvious crease down back, patchy fat appearing over ribs, bulging fat around tailhead, along withers, behind shoulders, along neck, fat along inner thighs may rub together, flank filled with fat. Areas marked A through F in the sketch above are the areas to visually review and/or feel for correlation to the scores above. A Gypsy Vanner horse was not utilized in the sketch below due to abundance of hair for clarity but the scoring process is the same although keep in mind the top of the hip area (apple butt) has a crease to the tailhead which is part of the breed and should not be considered a fault


As always check with your local veterinarian for help and advice. Aunt Fannie Vanner extends special thanks to the following members for information relating to nutrition, Katherine Mutti, Jane Howard, Jamie Sharp, Mary Shipman and exerpts from Horse and Rider, equine nutritionist Claire Thunes, PHD. The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society accepts no responsibility or liability for any opinion expressed in this article. If you have any questions or tips to share please send an email to in care of Aunt Fannie Vanner for the next issue of the GVHS‘The Vanner’ magazine.Till Then, Trot On…