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Official 2015 Publication of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society

The Versatile Vanner Celebrating GVHS Youth Welcome GVHS New Zealand

History of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society:


n 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.

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.

The mission and history of the gvhs


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.

Custom Commission Bronze Patina HEADLINER

June Towill Brown


Bronze Sculpture Sterling Silver Jewelry

(775) 831-1313 Studio Š Mark J. Barrett, www.markjbarrett.com

JuneTowillBrown.com Breeding art one vanner at a time


My St ory by Mark J Barrett

16 The Vanner • 2015

For me it was The Gypsy King. He was a beautiful young bundle of attitude, charisma and athletic energy. I can still see him at our first meeting, moving with such forceful grace, his neck bowed, rearing up at the fence between him and “his” mares. I was duly impressed, as were any fortunate enough to have witnessed him in person. No doubt every one of us has a story about their own transforming Gypsy Vanner Horse encounter. It hardly seems possible that it was over 20 years ago when Dennis and Cindy Thompson first walked into my photo and video studio to tell me about this amazing new horse they had brought

to America. Dennis’ pitch was infectious, even to my skeptical ears, and obviously these horses had taken over his and Cindy’s lives. Their enthusiasm peaked my interest, but when I met the horses I was completely charmed. They were a photographer’s dream horse. The looks, the hair, the personality, the presence... the magic. Jackie and I have photographed and filmed at least a couple hundred Gypsy Vanners since then (and many other breeds). We have published the Gypsy Vanner Horse calendars. We produced a video documentary of Gypsy horse breeders around the United Kingdom

and on the road to Appleby Faire. We have shot at large and small farms from Florida to Canada, from California to Virginia. Making a photographic portrait is a collaboration. Doing it right requires planning and cooperation. At best we can only capture what we are offered by our subjects at a particular moment in time. As with people, some horses take more coaxing than others. It can be difficult at times, but how lucky are we that our work involves such magnificent animals.

Both Jackie and I are honored to have played a part in the Gypsy Vanner Horse’s first 20 years in America. Certainly our lives are not the only ones changed by their arrival. It has been a rewarding journey, with miles ahead. We look forward to meeting all of you and hearing of your journeys. Mark and Jackie Barrett

By and large the quality of Gypsy Vanner horses we have seen and photographed is truly outstanding, as is the character of the people we have been privileged to meet along with this breed.

My Story by Mark Barrett


Dream Catching A

by Linda Boulton


hen I was asked to write an article for the Vanner Magazine I had no idea what to write but it was suggested I write about our stud and how I became involved with the breed. Well I think my story may be quite typical of many people who have discovered and fallen in love with this breed. Since my early teens I had loved and ridden horses of all kinds, mainly competition show jumping and eventing, then I married and had children. With a young family to care for along with long hard days dairy farming, my riding career soon came to a sliding stop (pun intended). The drive to work our way into farm ownership was foremost in our minds and the years began to race by. During this time I owned and rode the odd horse for pleasure but very intermittent.

horses on my search for the right one. Somehow the chubby, kind, safe pony club horses of my younger days had evolved into tall, lanky maniacs with no manners and a desire to put everyone off even thinking about getting on their backs. My excitement at the thought of getting back into riding soon started to turn to despair until one rainy day when I was in my office I had the thought to Google what the quietest breed of horse was. I thought that would be a good place to start. Good old Google spun its brain around and around then eventually up popped the cutest looking horse I had ever seen … cobby body, cute little ears, hideously long mane and tail and huge fluffy legs. I was mesmerized. I had never seen such a beautiful creature! Thus began my research into the Gypsy Vanner breed. It just so happened we were about to take a trip over to the USA so I decided maybe I could find a breeder in the area where we were going which was Florida. It didn’t take long to find Gypsy Gold Farm in Ocala so I contacted the owner Dennis Thompson who was very happy to meet us and a date was arranged. To say I was excited is an understatement, I could hardly contain myself during the days leading up to the visit. That day finally arrived and we drove our rental car from Daytona where we were based, through the beautiful countryside to Ocala and Dennis Thompson’s lovely farm, Gypsy Gold. As we pulled into the driveway I spied my very first live Vanner. I learned later this was the famous Gypsy King. Dennis met us and immediately began to show us around his property and more importantly introduce us to each of his lovely horses which I sensed he was so proud of. It had been raining and the horses were very grubby but it didn’t matter; they were still beautiful. I had the privilege of meeting Cushti Bok and The Gypsy King, the very first stallions imported to the US by Dennis and his late wife Cindy. 18 The Vanner • 2015

In 2007 we sold our dairy farm and decided to try our hand at dry stock farming. The novelty soon wore off for me and I began to crave my dairy farming days especially the calves and the daily hands on with the milking. I needed animals in my life, especially baby ones and so my mind turned to the horses I had always loved. I decided to get back into riding! So the search was on for a suitable mount. I scanned all the advertisements for weeks, months and bought and sold many

We were then invited into a paddock full of mares all wet and muddy and bedraggled looking as it had begun to rain again but I didn’t care, I was too absorbed with trying to process all the information Dennis was giving on the breed as we strolled around. It was the mares that sealed it for me. I have to admit I was rather nervous of walking in amongst a mob of strange horses and was plotting my exit when the heads all turned toward us as we approached and my heart melted. Staring at me through great walls of dripping hair were the kindest biggest brownest eyes I had ever seen. Like great deep pools of liquid love they drew me in and I was sucker punched. For a brief second it felt like we were frozen in time and then they began to walk straight towards me but instead of wanting to run I just wanted to be surrounded by these beautiful creatures and to milk every precious moment with them. The rain started to set in so we were invited inside for a cuppa and a chat. Dennis filled our heads with as much information as we could cram in and by the time we were ready to leave I felt mentally drained but at the same time emotionally charged to the hilt. Our holiday ended and we returned home. There was much to discuss, as my desire to obtain one of these lovelies as a riding horse for myself had now shifted up a gear. I wanted to breed these horses, I wanted to have my own paddock full of mares that I could lose myself amongst whenever I wished. The babies would fill the empty space left by the little calves I had spent most of my life rearing plus I would finally have my dream horse, one that was not only beautiful but safe and kind. I was totally hooked. My husband and son who are also my business partners could see the potential for another sideline business that would at least make Mama happy again and so were fully supportive of the idea. Thus the search began for a fledgling herd of our own and of course the first place to start was to find a suitable stallion. We had all agreed that if we were going to do this we were going to do it properly; that is we would only buy DNA verified stock with reputable bloodlines. We realized we would be one of the only Vanner breeders in NZ at that time apart from one other and we wanted to present quality genuine stock for the NZ public to enjoy as we were totally committed to helping preserve and promote the Vanner breed. It wasn’t long before I managed to locate a young stallion in Ohio named the Lion Prince who was a DNA verified son of the Lion King who I had learned was a great example of the breed and well respected. This young stallion was everything we wanted, exceptionally beautiful with the prettiest head I had ever seen on any of the horses I had been studying and with wonderful conformation, feathering and temperament. After lengthy discussions with his owner we finally sealed a deal and the Lion Prince was soon on his way to NZ. The day he arrived there was a greeting party for him. We had put in horse safe fencing around his paddock and fixed up a stall

for ‘his Majesty’ and he has been treated like royalty ever since. Prince has become my greatest love and he will live with me for the rest of his days. From there we slowly began to procure some mares, two from Florida and another two from Ohio. Our herd was beginning to form and babies were on the way. It was very exciting. One of the highlights of our Vanner experience to date was our invitation to have some of our horses ‘star’ in The Hobbit movie. This was a wonderful experience and great opportunity to show the world these awesome horses. We were treated like royalty and Sir Peter Jackson respected our wishes whenever we felt any given situation was not appropriate for the horses. We spent the first two weeks training which involved a lot of de-sensitizing for the horses but as we all know, these guys are born de-sensitized! The final day of our training was to be our biggest test as the cameramen were filming from a helicopter which flew down right above our heads as we rode around underneath them. We could feel the gale from the blades whirling above our heads and the noise was horrendous. I was riding around on my little Lottery mare thinking if this was one of my old thoroughbreds I would probably be dead by now, but little Sugar just kept walking along as did all the other cobs and Vanners. We were told Sir Peter was very impressed with how quiet the horses were. Our days were long but fun filled. We got to dine with the cast in the big marquee and chat with the actors who rode our horses. They were all so friendly and loved the horses. All in all it was a great experience which we are truly grateful for. We have continued to breed and import quality horses mostly from the US and as of today we have 10 breeding mares, 2 stallions, 1 gelding and 5 weanlings. My hobby is getting out of control! These horses are not only a passion they are an addiction, a rather expensive addiction but the rewards are phenomenal. Every day I have the opportunity to just go hang out with them or to ride my beautiful stallion Lion Prince or one of my lovely mares. Or maybe put the girls in harness and drive down our farm with the sun on my back and just the swish swish of the wheels going around and the clip clop of those big old feet softly padding the ground as we gently jiggle our way down the lane. Owning one of these amazing creatures is like living in a dream where fairytales do come true and the stresses and strains of life in our busy world simply melt away in the presence of such a kind gentle loving animal who seems to want to be with you just as much as you want to be with him. I thank God for not only creating such a blessed creature but for leading me to discover what I never thought was possible, a fairytale life surrounded by my dream horses. catching a dream by linda boulton


Gypsy Vanners WOW Crowds in New Zealand Performance Debut


alfway down New Zealand’s North Island and for the last 17 years the town of Hastings has hosted the biggest Equestrian event in the Southern Hemisphere. The Horse of the year show.

riders HOYS provides a week of fantastic entertainment with the bonus retail fix with more than 200 trade sites.

The Horse of the Year Show is home to over 17 different Equestrian disciplines with the attendance of over 80,000

This year after the formation of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society in New Zealand in September 2014, the GVHSNZ was so excited to be included in this prestigious event with the opportunity to introduce our Gypsy Vanners to the New Zealand public.

people, more than 2600 horses and 28 arenas, for many equestrians and spectators alike the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) is not one to be missed with thousands returning year after year. Crowds flock to the show grounds to be enthralled by the speed and height of the fences in the Show Jumping and Eventing rings and to watch the beauty and grace of the Grand Prix dressage as horses and riders dance in harmony around the arena. The Horse of the Year Show is a feast for the senses of all things equine. Whether they be riders or non-

With Vanners traveling the length of New Zealand and across the Cook straight that divides the two Islands of Aotearoa, everything was looking fantastic with preparations going to plan. Then a week before the opening of the show, near disaster loomed, as the weather reports declared a tropical cyclone was about to descend on the east coast area right as the marquees where being erected on the grounds. The show committee appealed for everyone to batten down the hatches, as the show

20 The Vanner • 2015

must go on. Much to the relief of the thousands making the trek from all over the country, the storm veered out to sea and while we received a good amount of rain the weekend before it was not enough to dampen our spirits. Founding member of the GVHSNZ Lynda Boulton had secured a brilliant trade site near the entrance to the main arena where we set up our Gypsy Vanner

site which was to be our home for the six days that was the duration of the show. Banners were hung, posters mounted, plants placed and the stars of the show, the Vanners themselves who had made the long journey safely, were tucked up in their stables with bellies full of hay. As the first morning arrived our trade site looked amazing and we received great comments from people as we handed out GVHS brochures, lollipops and sold Vanner Magazines. It was amazing to see the excitement and emotion in the

faces of those who had never seen or heard of the Gypsy Vanner. Eyes welled with tears as we spoke of their gentle natures and spellbinding beauty that is the fairytale horse, the Gypsy Vanner. On the grounds, a round pen had been set up for the Vanners to be showcased and every day the horses were on their best behavior strutting their stuff and showing off party tricks. Jo Kirk one of the very talented trainers employed by Gypsy Royal Stud based in Christchurch had even taught the clever and gorgeous GRS Absolute Perfection (Abby) that she was able to demonstrate to her new admirers that she knew the difference between a red colored and blue colored balloon, by pointing to them with her nose. Lynda Boulton the owner of Gypsy Royal Stud gave presentations explaining to the ever growing crowd all about these fluffy colored equines; about the Gypsy Vanner breed, the history and genetics that set them apart from all others. New Zealand has always had a special admiration for the horses and ponies that shaped this farming country. We are an agricultural nation that broke this country’s fertile soils from horseback. Many parts of our Middle Earth’s landscape is steep rugged hills and mountains. Nearly all farms in New Zealand relied on the ever present work horse, more often than not heavy cob types with a lot of cold blood bred from Clydesdales,

22 The Vanner • 2015

Shires, just like the earliest version of the beloved Gypsy Vanners. The passion for this type is still strong in us as a nation. Unfortunately, as times have changed with the evolution of technology, motorbikes and quad bikes, over time the old style cob horses have been phased out and disappeared from the great Stations and farms of NZ. Add to this mix our very successful Thoroughbred racing industry from which thousands of washed up or un-utilized racehorses flood the market down under. The gene pool is now dominantly hot blooded, high maintenance horses, not necessarily suitable for a vast variety of riders, especially the old, the young, the nervous or those returning to riding in our horse mad population. When we were able to share this “New Breed of Old horse “, it stirred many memories of the four legged equines of a bygone era; the horses of our fathers and grandfathers, great stockmen that shaped our beautiful country into what it is today. When looking for a quiet steady mount there is a huge gap in the market down under for which the Gypsy Vanner will be a very suitable fit; an around safe and sane partner that is a pleasure to own, handle and ride; a horse that is suitable for all. As the sun streamed down and the storm well and truly forgotten, the Vanners were transported into the center of town. With the trade site left in the very capable hands of

{ } New Zealand has always

had a special admiration for the horses and

ponies that shaped this farming country.

Bonnie Sinclair. Makeshift fencing was erected to create a temporary arena as HOY in the city began. Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) attired riders and horses led the parade with a reenactment held to remember the soldiers of the ANZAC along with the over 10,000 horses who died and fought in World War One. This year held special significance as the 100 year anniversary was held in April. Next were stunt horses followed by a magnificent stallion doing a dressage display. It was then the Vanners turn to shine after standing patiently awaiting their turn, as balloons were handed out to happy children. Once again the Vanners behaved impeccably, nibbling on grass and standing quietly still to be petted. The team was all very proud of this steady and trustworthy breed.

{ } Plans are already

underway; bigger, better, and even more feather!

At five o’clock Friday night, the Horse of the Year show held a night extravaganza, with transTasman show jumping, dressage demonstrations plus mounted games. This year the Gypsy Vanners also took center stage. Thousands packed the seats leaving standing room only. The lights were down as our music played and a short video was aired on the big screen, all eyes were on team Gypsy Vanner. Roses adorned their manes together with girls dressed in Gypsy style costumes. GB Kings Savannah was ridden in by Emily Weibel, a groom

and trainer at Gypsy Royal Stud. Savvy’s tail looked glorious flying behind her around the arena as the masses in the stadium gasped in awe. Maria Sharland of Vannerama Stud who had made the trip down from Cambridge with her very lovely filly GR Sweet Georgia Peaches, along with Kirsten Higginson and the handsome and very well behaved GR Lionheart were both shown on the lead, displaying how even the youngest Vanners will walk calmly and proving to all the truly unflappable nature of the Gypsy Vanner. This is a breed trait that we are all so fond of and what draws so many of us to this one of a kind breed. After an exhausting week we packed up our exhibit as the Vanners were loaded back into their floats preparing for the long journeys back to their homes at opposite ends of the country. A fantastic time was had by all and with so many positive comments and great feedback this experience was really rewarding and encouraging for the GVHSNZ. A huge thank you to the NZ Team! We look forward to doing it all again next year. Plans are already underway; bigger, better, and even more feather! Jessie McLean GVHSNZ President and Registrar

new zealand gvhs performance debut


Vannerama Gypsy Vanner Stud

Cambridge, New Zealand Written by Maria Sharland for Vannerama Stud New Zealand

So that?’

… New Zealand? I can hear you thinking, ‘Where is

Yes, where indeed? Many years ago when I was working in America driving 18 wheelers, at some little roadside diner, a guy asked me if it was ‘south of Texas’, and without embarrassing him, I most happily said that it most certainly was indeed, ‘very south’. Most folks have heard of Australia and in moments of confusion I say we are country cousins that slipped a bit further down the globe in the Pacific Ocean. New Zealand however is more recently notable for its role in hosting the Lord of the Rings movies, and also of having the good fortune of including some of the country’s Gypsy Vanner horses as actors in the movies. ‘En Zed’ is considered clean, green, and beautiful. Little old New Zealand, having recently become affiliated to the GVHS of America, is both a blessing and a bonus, for all the benefits and knowledge we are receiving. We, (Maria Sharland and husband Andrew), have a small stud of Gypsy Vanners I named Vannerama. I chose that name partly because I had a Dutch maiden name which had the illustrious (and ever hated) ‘van’ included, and it

26 The Vanner • 2015

has now become a word twist combining the very essence of the breed and of my own heritage. (Which of course I am proud of) I have only 3 Vanners, but I have a strong inner glow that tells me that could change. What started me on this journey was a book written by Margrit Coates called ‘Connecting with Horses’, an amazing book that taught me so much. What I loved as much as the content, and which I took great glee in showing anyone and everyone, was the horse on the cover. I did not believe it could be true that a horse could have a mane so long. I figured it must be “Photoshop-ed”. That was the first moment for me, and I have no idea what breed that horse is now, but she got me on the road for the love of feather mane and tail. We already had temperament in our horses, as we had a small group of purebred Clydesdales, and we were also well-versed in feather, so the transition from the great size of the Clydes, to a smaller but similar version with colour and a double shot of hair was easy. (If not easy on the pocket, very easy on the eye.) Two years ago my sister Annemieke and I did a trek in the South Island on Clydesdale cross horses, for 13 days thru the Alps, snow, mountains, rocky shale mountainsides, and regular elements of

spine tingling danger. That trek itself was an emotional upheaval because of the sheer beauty, vastness and unspoilt wonder of our magnificent country. On the final day we had about a two-hour window of spare time, and ended up at the Gypsy Royal Stud in Christchurch for a fleeting but life-altering visit to see Lynda Boulton’s horses. Gypsy Royal Sweet Georgia Peaches was a foal for sale. End of story..you know

what’s coming. Yes, of course I purchased her. How could I not? To be fair and honest I did not really know what I was meant to be looking for back then, especially in a foal so young, but I had already had some crossbred Gypsy-horses, so I knew what I didn’t want and worked backwards. My first requirement was height. As I am 6 feet tall, I was never going to want a pony. With Peaches’ dam, GB The King’s Savannah, being 15.1hh I had hit the biggest jackpot ever. We have very few taller mares in NZ. I have never regretted buying ‘Peaches’ and am always very thankful to be the lucky person who now owns her. (photo of peaches in here) As you all know, this breed is a collectable item and a dangerous addiction. Chocolate has nothing on Vanners. I had one, and wanted another. I also purchased my second filly from the Gypsy Royal stud, again from another 15hh mare called WCF Gypsy Jewell, called GR Princes Royal Treasure. Both fillies have the same sire, being Westmoreland Lion Prince. My two fillies are like sisters together, loving and gentle peas in their own pod. (photo of Treasure here, and if poss one of both together) Next thing you know, lo and behold and shake my head I am dreaming, I see an ad for a mare for sale. Yes, a ‘mare’. This is a rare occurrence in NZ as we don’t have enough mares for most folk to even think about selling them. Initially, I decided she was too small for my rigid height requirements, but 3 months later she came up again so I had a major internal reassessment. I purchased the beautiful 3.5 year old Desert Jewel Halona, who is out of DJ Miss Coates and by the world renowned Lenny’s horse. Miss Coates’ sire and dam both go back to the Old Kent Horse aka Micky Harriton’s horse. Miss Coates is said to be 15 hh also, and a Grand Daughter of Original Shogun. Halona is now in foal so this will be my very first Vanner foal. Next year I will choose the most magnificent stallion in the world for her (that’s in my perfect world in my head) and I will order a filly for myself. Here’s hoping for a filly, because of the last 8 mares of mixed breeds I have foaled out over 3 years all foals were colts. Maybe my luck is about to change. Either that or I am doing something wrong. Here’s hoping… Photos of Halona courtesy of Katherine Davies or Romany Stud, NZ

Vannerama - gypsy vanner stud


New Gypsy Vanner Horse Shows in Canada! Central Alberta Gypsy Vanner Horse Show 2014 was the first year for the Central Alberta Gypsy Vanner Horse Show, held at the Horse in Hand Ranch, Blackfalds, AB. Felicia Britt did a wonderful job teaching seminars the day before the show, preparing people and horses for the big event. Marvin Britt was the Judge for the show. GVHS Evaluations were offered in conjunction with the show and the Evaluators were thorough in explaining what they were looking for in the conformation of our Gypsy Vanners to help everyone understand what we are striving for in the development of the breed.  

Ontario Gypsy Vanner Horse Show Held in conjunction with the Canadian National Draft Horse Exhibition over the Civic Holiday long weekend in August, this event attracted horses from Ontario, Quebec and New York State. It was a great opportunity to share the Vanner Breed with the public who attended for the Draft Exhibition and were drawn to the second ring to see the Vanners in action. The Canadian Gypsy Vanner Horse Club is an affiliate to the GVHS. The Mission of the Canadian Gypsy Vanner Horse Club is to promote and enjoy the Gypsy Vanner Horse, support the mission of the GVHS and educate others about the breed.


promises to be the busiest show year yet for Canadian Gypsy Vanners with another show being introduced in Moose Jaw, SK in early August in addition to repeats of the 2014 Shows. 24 The Vanner • 2015

In addition to providing sponsorship support to these shows, the Club sponsors members and GVHS horses attending Expos and events throughout Canada. In 2014, the Club supported Team Gypsy Vanner at TELUS Battle of the Breeds and the Can Am Equine Expo. The Club and the GVHS were also represented at the Ontario Carriage Driving Association Championships in Burlington, ON and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Spirit of the Horse in Toronto, ON.

new canadian gvhs shows


Gypsy Vanners & Breed Formation D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PhD

“Breed” has different definitions in different settings. Some horse breeds are as loosely defined as the Pinto, which is pretty much any spotted horse of any size and genetic background. A step away from this are “breeds” such as the Palomino, which must be of an appropriate color and are also limited to a certain range in the overall conformation, size, and breed background of acceptable animals. A more restrictive concept is that breeds are made up of animals that resemble one another distinctively enough to be recognizable from other horses, and that these reproduce the same type when mated to one another. This definition implies a level of genetic uniformity that provides predictability to the breed. Older breeds with closed herdbooks fit the model here, such as Thoroughbreds and Arabians. The challenge is that some unregistered horse populations also fit this definition, such as the local Colonial Spanish horses in the USA. In this restricted sense, breeds result from a combination three factors: foundation, isolation, and selection. Understanding these three can help in figuring out which horse populations fit here, regardless of their registration history. 32 The Vanner • 2015

Foundation refers to the original animals that went into the population. In most cases, for older breeds, this was just as likely to be accidental as deliberate. A decent equine example is Spanish Mustangs and other related Criollo breeds in the Americas. Their Iberian foundation was simply due to the fact that this is the type of horse accessible from the ports of debarkation during the exploration and conquest of the Americas. Isolation follows foundation, and is the absence of additions of outside breeding into the population. This varies considerably from breed to breed, but for a breed to establish itself as a genetic resource the level of isolation should be very high, to avoid constant change of the underlying genetics. Selection is the process of allowing some animals to reproduce, and preventing others from reproducing. This shapes the genetics of the breed by favoring some combinations and penalizing others. Most equine breeds are selected for a specific look (Arabians) or function (sport horse Warmbloods, racing Thoroughbreds). Selection is a powerful way to radically change a breed from within. Breed type fluctuates depending on the selection goals of the breeders, and changes in breed type always

background. That can lead to a slower route of consolidation due to unforeseen variation in the background of the foundation animals. Type is important, and over time it does tend to drift. Breeders do need to be careful to value original, functional types and not be overly swayed by more refined or delicate types, because these can have negative effects. One example would be selection for small feet in Quarter Horses, contributing to the high incidence of navicular disease in that breed. A second is more subtle, the selection for short, pretty heads in Dutch Warmbloods led to foals not being able to graze while standing square. They needed to put one foot forward, one back in order to graze. The result is a very unbalanced “handed” horse due to most foals consistently favoring either right or left as the foot to put forward in order to graze.

as long as the underpinnings of type and foundation are there to support all that variation. While variation can be brought in from crossing outside the Vanner, it is equally true that black and white can hide a wide range of variation that can pop up in succeeding generations. Variation can either be tolerated, celebrated, or eliminated. Elimination is obvious, and can be accomplished by registry procedures or by breeder choice. Toleration is likely fairly simple, with the outlier colors allowed in but not experiencing any undue popularity. Celebration is a bit more debatable, because if the odd colors become popular simply due to their rarity, then the overall type may suffer as color becomes the target of selection rather than overall type. Evaluating type and overall quality is a challenging task and requires ability and study. Breeders of animals with unique superficial characteristics (black and white horses with feather would be a good example!) are especially prone to ignoring the underlying complexity of animal evaluation. The core of the horse is it’s conformation and temperament, and this can be a difficult point for outsiders to appreciate.

A second example refers to size. Argentine Criollo horses are valued for their prowess in long-distance racing over multiple days. In the 1960s or thereabouts, some breeders decided that the traditional height (usually 13.2 to 14.2) was too short to be pretty, and began to select taller horses. Fortunately, they soon noticed a decline in traditional athletic ability and returned to the traditional size. The key here is that drift in type can be tempting and appealing, but nearly always changes the underlying breed package. Size changes can be especially damaging, depending Darby Dolly, daughter of The Gypsy King, with Bat, daughter of Romany Rye, first on the function of the two Gypsy Vanner Horses to arrive in the USA. Imported by Gypsy Gold farm 1996. animals. If the original type was a rugged functional horse, that can sometimes suffer in the show ring, because show rings nearly always want extremes. The main question is “how important is breed type to breeders,” and then how to reward and maintain the breeding stock with the highest level of breed type. The original idea behind the breed was not “anything goes,” but rather a specific package of looks, origins, and abilities. That is the core of the breed as it develops and goes forward. Included in type can certainly be color, and this is controversial with various breeders. At one extreme some would favor the breed all being black and white tobiano with a blaze face. This is common in the breed, and may indeed be the most common color. Others would cast the net more broadly and include anything and everything. Neither approach is inherently wrong, 34 The Vanner • 2015

consolidate the type and not lose it.

Pedigree Pedigree, if used to mean “ancestral background” can also be important, and certainly does interact with breed type. In many breeds, horses of certain type also share a common genetic background. The reason that this can be important is that knowing the background of the horses can help to sort out ways forward to

For example, at least to my understanding, the usual “drum horses” in the United Kingdom are the result of many generations of mating tobiano paints back to Shire horses, keeping your fingers crossed, and hoping for a spotted foal. This background, if taken back many generations, indicates that Drum Horses (at least many of the English ones) are nothing more than tobiano Shires, regardless of their lack of registration in the Shire herdbook. As a result, it is perfectly in keeping with the pedigree of Drum Horses to continue to allow mating to Shires. Interestingly, in the United States the preferred matings is spotted x Clydesdale, resulting in Drum Horses being different in the two countries. Different outcross, different final result.

Unfortunately, getting pedigree information in an unregistered, or newly registered, horse population can be challenging. “Horse trading” has its sketchy reputation for a reason, and not all information put forward by a seller is necessarily true. Sellers tend to tell buyers what they want to hear, because that helps sales. This is where close evaluation becomes useful, because a close evaluation of the animal before you and its stated pedigree may or may not coincide!

outside this foundation, and what to do about them?” Should they be included? Should only certain backgrounds be included? Who decides? How accurate are the backgrounds anyway, once the price becomes high? Overall breed type and definition become important here, especially as regards color variation and overall style of horse. One useful tool in this pursuit of the breed is to trace foundation influences in pedigrees. This requires investigation into the background of imported horses, and that background may well not always be accurate. A good example is the three foundation sires of the Thoroughbred, usually listed as an Arabian, a Barb, and a Turk. In reality they were most likely

The goals to move forward can tug in different directions. Striving for a very consistent type that springs from only a handful of foundation (family) sources can yield a population that is too small and too interrelated to move forward for very many generations without inbreeding. Inbreeding is a very real threat to long-term vitality and viability of the horses. Casting the net more widely can help to counter the longterm threat of inbreeding, but can come at a risk of diminishing uniformity and predictability.

According to Gypsy Vanner history, the Thompsons pursued a certain type of There are strategies to move forward, horse, with a certain background. This regardless of the present situation indicates that the breed type springs within the breed. One is to leverage the from a limited number of specific and current successful targeted breeding evaluation program programs. While this is positive, it also has to influence to be acknowledged breeding decisions. that each and every The goal should breeder is going be to constantly to stamp a herd improve the type somewhat differently, and style of the and an important next generation, question is whether especially for the or not the Thompson’s horses of weaker search and resulting type. This is one decisions were as facet of the gem the inclusive as others breed is trying to might now desire. On create. The second the positive side of is to make sure the this question is that genetic structure of the Thompson horses the breed is sound are consistent by both going forward, and type and pedigree. A this can be done by potential negative is tracking pedigrees Love Biscuit, aka Doc, 5 Star GVHS Evaluated buckskin tobiano stallion, that this sample (26 and foundation owned by Janet Adams. horses or so) is not sources. Of special large enough to go many generations all three Turcoman horses. But, to the use and value to the breed are those in to the future (this is a question, not a degree possible, tracing foundations back horses of strong type and style that come conclusion!). to individual herds or breeders is useful, from otherwise rare foundations. These because it provides a glimpse into the “open up” the next generation so that History suggests that “Thompson type” genetic diversity of the original breed. In inbreeding can be kept low on into the horses could be found in the breeding the case of the Gypsy Vanner, identifying future. programs of around 15 families with the foundation influence may be nothing good, deliberately bred horses of that more complicated than noting the family The overall key is that type is important, original type. Descendants of those likely producing the imported horse. This is foundation is important, pedigree is number some 1500 horses. This is the still useful, especially if some of these important, and all of these need to be core of the breed, but may not be the families had breeding programs that considered and balanced as individual entire breed for a host of reasons outlined were separated from the other families. breeding decisions are made. And, those Better, though, is to track horses back to individual breeding decisions need to be above. long-standing breeding programs aimed closely considered as to their influence Another important question is “are at producing a consistent type and style on the overall breed. horses of appropriate type available from of horse. gypsy vanners and breed formation


What is a Vanner? What is a Breed? The Romani Gypsy community of Great Britain has a long history of breeding horses for many different purposes. The use of a distinctive name, Gypsy Vanner Horse, is important to clearly differentiate the caravan horses selectively bred by Gypsies that have the characteristics to classify as a BREED. Just what is a breed and how is a breed defined? Juliet Clutton-Brock, a former senior researcher at The Natural History Museum in London, is credited with the following definition. “A breed is a group of animals selected to have a uniform appearance that distinguishes them from the groups of animals within the same species. When mated together, members of a breed consistently reproduce this same type.”

The Gypsy Vanner Horse began with the selective breeding by certain Gypsy families to produce a colorful caravan horse

The Gypsy Vanner BREED was established with the formation of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society in 1996. The Registry formalized a system to record and track pedigrees and defined the phenotype via the Breed Standard. This formed the basis upon which to preserve & protect the Gypsy Vanner Horse Dr. Deb Bennett in her books on conformation shares, Drs. Sponenberg & Bixby in their book, “Managing Breeds for a Secure Future” state, “ the three pillars on which a breed is built are: pedigree, history and phenotype”.

“as we build a breed we must look at the three “P’s” pedigree, phenotype, and performance if we want to achieve breed excellence.

A successful breed, one that grows and obtains longevity is one in which there is an understanding and balance of those most important components.


1992 Post WW11

Certain Gypsies start breeding for particular traits of color, size, temperament & hair 36 The Vanner • 2015

1996 Discovery

Thompson’s spot Cushti Bok and start research

GVHS BREED The “Gypsy Vanner Breed” is formally established through the GVHS Registry

The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society was established to protect a vision that was born over half a century ago to create the perfect horse to pull their colorful caravans. Gypsy Vanner Breed Preservation is achieved through: • Recorded & Verified Pedigrees • Defined Phenotype via Breed Standard • Focus on Performance Purpose

The use of the name VANNER distinguishes the BREED from the many other horses bred by Gypsies. When your horse is registered with the GVHS, you should be proud to use the name ...

Phenotype is the composite of an organism’s observable characteristics or traits, such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, phenology, behavior, and products of behavior. PHENOTYPE includes both conformation and breed type characteristics and is defined by the Breed Standard.

Gypsy VANNER Horse!


2009 DNA DNA verification of pedigrees begins

2009 STANDARDS Development of detailed Breed Standard

EVALUATION Introduction of Evaluation Program

what is a breed?


Evaluating Your Gypsy Vanner By Heather Caudill

What to expect at the Evaluations: You have filled out your forms, paid your fees, and now have arrived with your horse at the evaluations. The conformation evaluation is first. When you enter the arena where the evaluators are you will be directed to present your horse at the top of the triangle that is marked out in the arena. Once your horse is standing quietly the evaluators will ask you to part your horses’ lips so that they can see the horses bite. After inspecting the bite the evaluators will then take the time needed to see every part of your horses’ body. As the evaluators move around your horse they will move and feel the forelock, mane, and tail in order to see the parts of the body that they cover and to check for the amount and quality of hair they produce. You will also notice the evaluators feeling along the neck and back and down the legs. The feather covers many parts of the horses’ legs and to assess the conformation in the lower areas of the legs the evaluators must touch, feel, and move the feather around. The horse will 38 The Vanner • 2015

also be asked to pick up their legs so that the evaluators can see the size and shape of their hooves. Now that the evaluators have looked over the conformation of your horse they will ask you to move your horse at both the walk and trot around the outside of the triangle. You will be asked to start to the left at the top of the triangle and walk each side of the triangle in a clock wise rotation. This is to allow the evaluators to see the horse moving from behind as they go away. Next is to see the movement from the side as they go across the bottom of the triangle. Last is to see the horse from the front as they are moving towards the evaluators. Once this is performed at a walk then you will be asked to do the same pattern around the triangle at a trot. If for any reason the evaluators feel that they need to see the horse go at the walk or trot a second time they will ask for the pattern to be performed again. Throughout the evaluation you will

be guided by the evaluators for any particular things they may need you to do with your horse. If they need you to move your horse forward or backwards they will let you know. If you are unable to handle your horse for the evaluation you can have another person of your choosing present to handle your horse. During the conformation evaluation if you have any questions you may ask them at any time. There are three performance evaluations offered including English under saddle, Western under saddle, and Driving. Each of these patterns can be downloaded from the GVHS website at www.vanners.org. The patterns for each performance evaluation are selfexplanatory. Before you begin any of the patterns feel free to ask any questions you may have. After you have performed the pattern if the evaluators would like to see a movement repeated they will ask at that time. You will not be counted down for going off pattern and may stop and be refreshed on the pattern during your evaluation if needed. The English pattern has walk, trot, and canter. The Western pattern has walk, jog, and lope. The Driving pattern has walk and trot. The Horse will receive scores for each of these gaits during the evaluations. Other scores are acquired through behavior, impulsion, acceptance of the bit, submission, confidence, transitions, and willingness to work. Comments will accompany the scores in each section of the pattern.

Leading up to the evaluation you want to make sure your horse is at their optimal health. Keep up with and maintain a proper worming schedule as well as vaccination routine for your horse and adequate hoof care. Your horse does not have to be “fitted� in order to attend an evaluation but your horse should be of healthy weight and body condition. Certain factors should be considered as you are deciding when to take your horse to an evaluation. If your horse is underweight due to nursing a foal that might not be the best time to present your horse. You should take the time to assess your horses overall health and body condition prior to the evaluation. If needed ask your veterinarian or another professional in the equine industry to help with this assessment to insure your horse is healthy. A horse that is very over weight may have a difficult

These comments will reflect whether the horse performed each section to the best of its ability or if there is room for improvement in their scores. On the evaluation form an evaluator may request that the horse be re-evaluated. Even if an evaluator does not make that request the owner may have their horse re-evaluated at any time in any of the Evaluations offered. Preparing for the Evaluations: Locations and dates for evaluations are posted on the GVHS website giving owners the needed time to prepare for the evaluations of choice. Once you have picked your location and which evaluations your horse will participate in, you then need to prepare your horse. The evaluations are not competitions but there are basic requirements in order for your horse to be safely inspected by the evaluators. At a competition a horse is placed based on the competition it has that day and in that class. At an evaluation each horse is obtaining a final score which determines whether they are 3 star, 4 star, or 5 star status. This score is the score that stays with the horse year after year and is a representation of the horses quality. Many people worry about the grooming requirements for evaluations. There are no specific grooming requirements in order to bring your horse to an evaluation. To show respect to the evaluators it is proper etiquette to have a clean horse. Having the horse free of excess dirt on the body, manure and shavings in the tail and feather, and oil

or ointments is basic grooming that is needed. The evaluators will not only be touching your horse but will also pick up and look at the hooves so remember to pick out your horses hooves prior to entering the arena for evaluation. Clipping is optional for any horse at any age. If you do clip your horse make sure to not clip the forelock, mane, tail, or feather. During the conformation evaluation your horses forelock, mane, and tail need to be down so that the evaluators can see and feel the quality of hair. For the English, Western or driving evaluations you may braid your horses forelock or mane.

time in properly showing their range of movement. The same can be said for an underweight horse that might be lethargic or depleted and unable to show their true potential. You want your horse to obtain the best score it can get and the health of your horse is the most important step in achieving that. Horses are presented at all ages for the conformation evaluation. Many young horses might not have a lot of handling or training when you decide you would like to have them evaluated. You can help prepare your horse regardless of evaluatiing your gypsy vanner


be prepared to properly utilize their driving whip. Attire for handlers, riders, or drivers should be appropriate to the discipline. In the conformation evaluation you need to wear safe and comfortable shoes to be able to run. Your clothes should have a clean and professional appearance. Slacks or Jeans are acceptable to wear along with a button down shirt or polo. Dress for function and safety. Wearing flip flops and spaghetti strap tank tops are not appropriate attire. If you are wearing jewelry make sure it will not interfere with the handling of your horse. You may wear gloves for any of the evaluations including the conformation evaluation.

how much handling or training they have had. Your horse needs to accept a person touching their head, body, and legs. They need to allow someone to pick up their legs and touch their hooves. Many horses don’t like people to walk behind them or touch their tails. This is something they have to accept during evaluation. Work with your horse on standing quietly in areas that may be distracting, especially if this is the first time they will go somewhere new. You need to be able to stand on both sides of your horse or in front of them. During the movement pattern around the triangle at the walk or the trot your horse needs to be moving beside you. You do not want to be running out in front of your horse dragging it around the triangle or having it chase you either. If your horse is very forward and you cannot keep up with your horse you may need to find another handler that can for safety reasons as well as to allow your horse to show off its abilities. There is no set size of triangle for the evaluations and will depend on the arena dimensions. The sides of the triangle should range from 40-60 feet with each side the same length. During the pattern you will be traveling clock wise around the triangle, therefore your horse needs to be able to turn to the right away from you as you are moving. For the performance evaluations the horse needs to be at least 3 years of age to participate. The patterns for each performance evaluation explain the movements required to be performed. When signing up for these evaluations 40 The Vanner • 2015

look over the patterns and make sure that your horse has the proper training to perform the necessary movements. Equipment and Attire for Evaluations In the conformation evaluation the horse should be presented in a properly fitting halter with either a regular lead rope or a chain lead. Stallions age 3 years and older are permitted to wear a bridle with a snaffle bit during the evaluation. Full stallion rigging is not permitted for evaluations. Any other equipment besides the halter or bridle is not permitted during the conformation evaluations. A whip may be held by the handler and used to encourage the horse to move forward if necessary during the movement portion of the evaluation. You may also have an additional person to run behind your horse if needed to encourage them to move forward during that time as well. In the English under saddle evaluation a hunt seat, dressage, or all-purpose English saddle may be used. An English bridle is required and may have a regular caveson, flash, or dropped noseband. In the Western under saddle evaluation a western saddle must be used with any skirt style of choice. Western bridles with or without cavesons are acceptable. Carrying a whip or riding with spurs is allowed in either English or Western evaluations. No side pulls, draw reins, tie downs, or martingales are permitted while in an evaluation. For the driving evaluation a cart of appropriate size to the horse should be used along with proper fitting harness. Drivers should

The Evaluation program was designed to help the GVHS in preserving the breed and is a useful program for its members. One purpose of the evaluations is to assess your horses strengths and weaknesses in order to help make educated breeding decisions to maintain the breed standard. The second purpose for evaluations is inspecting new horses entering the registry to insure that the horses are of the breed standard quality to be entered into the stud book. Many other breed registries have used inspections and/or evaluations for years with great success in preserving their breed type. Additional information pertaining to the Evaluations can be found on the GVHS website.


The following stallions have been offered for the 2015 breeding season. All of the breedings have been generously donated by the stallion owners and are being offered at 50% or less of their normal stud fee. Thank you to all who have donated and those who have supported this initiative through purchasing through the GVHS Stallion Service Sale.

Thank You!

WCF King of Hearts GV00521F Owner: King’s Symbol Farm

Thank You!

Scout GV02245P Owner: Run Gypsy Run

Thank You!

Fionn macCumhaill GV00129F Owner: WillowWind Stables

52 The Vanner • 2015

Thank You!

Love Biscuit aka “Doc” GV00889F Owner: Ronald & Janet Adams, Summerhill Vanners

Thank You!

Starfire Five Card Stud GV02811 Owner: Starfire Gypsy Vanners

Thank You!

R Dorado GV03999P Owner: Gypsy Tales Farm & King’s Symbol Farm

stallion service sale donors 53

Thank You!

Roman of HSF GV02957P Owner: Heaven Sent Farm

Thank You!

Shameless GV02951 Owner: Run Gypsy Run

Thank You!

VV Mayacamus GV01280F2 Owner: Joyce Christian 54 The Vanner • 2015

Another Vanner Dream Fulfilled

The Ideal Family Horse By Marie Webb

Just the other day, I was having fun on my computer, looking on Facebook. A friend had a page link to Vanners.org. I clicked on it, and I am so glad I did.

Three years ago, I had first looked at Vanners.org. My husband and I thought Gypsy Vanners were so pretty. We read how they were calm and gentle. We were looking for a horse that would do well with people who have physical and mental limitations. We were considering a part-bred Gypsy filly. I looked on many websites trying to find the perfect filly. Somehow, I ended up on laffeysirishanimals.com. There I saw Lexlin’s Easter. To us, she was the prettiest filly we had ever seen. We especially liked her two blue eyes. There was no price listed, so I doubted we could ever afford her. I emailed Steve & Kelly anyways. To my amazement, they agreed to work with us, so we got Easter. My husband and Easter soon developed a special bond. She became his horse. My son also fell in love with Easter. Kevin, who is now 16, has Autism; so to him, Easter is his friend. Easter is very good to him. If Kevin has a hard day at school, time with Easter will calm him down. When we take family walks down the road, Kevin will lead Easter. Kevin was so happy when Easter became old enough to ride. He is so proud of her. She gives him confidence. Often, Kevin will clean her paddock just to be helpful. He likes spending time with her. She is the perfect family horse. When Easter was just a yearling, Kevin knew he wanted a foal of Easter’s. So we planned on breeding Easter when she was four. We then began to look at the available stallions. Kevin fell in love with Love Biscuit. Kevin said he likes his color, height, his furry feet, and everything about him. From then on, Love Biscuit was the only stallion Kevin wanted to breed Easter to. But then an unexpected opportunity presented itself that allowed us to adopt a very sweet 12 year old girl. We met Miley when she was eleven, when she came to live with us in Washington.  She came from southern California, and she was very timid around horses. Easter was very gentle around her.

56 The Vanner • 2015

Unfortunately, private adoptions are very expensive. This meant we could no longer breed Easter to Kevin’s dream stallion. Kevin was very disappointed, but he understood. So then we planned on breeding Easter to a local stallion. But then, clicking on my friend’s link on Facebook, I went over to Vanners.org. There I saw the Stallion Service Sale. To my amazement, I saw that Love Biscuit was listed for half his normal stud fee. I immediately purchased it. I am so happy that I got to make my son’s dream come true. Kevin is so happy and excited. I know Kevin and his new foal are going to be very good for each other. I think God has a wonderful plan for us.  Now my family is very blessed and we are so grateful to all involved.  

another vanner dream fufilled 57

Tyler , My

Perfect Match by Kaylei Hunley-Perry

I’m Kaylei and I own Brackenhill Tyler. She is a Gypsy Vanner mare. I have always wanted a horse but when I saw a Gypsy Vanner I knew I had to have one. The first Gypsy Vanner I rode was Grey Ghost Phantom who is owned by Debbie Noonan. Not long after that my dream came true. My trainer Heather Caudill helped me find my perfect match, my Tyler girl. After a few months of training we were off to North Carolina for our first Feathered Horse Classic show. It was so exciting and for our first show we did pretty well. I got to meet many new people and see so many other Gypsy Vanners. Later in October we went to the Georgia Feathered Horse Classic show which qualified us for the FHC Nationals in Jacksonville, FL. There, we ended up winning both Champion and Reserve Champion titles. In February, we took Tyler to the first GVHS Annual Meeting that we have attended, and participated in clinics. We also participated in the evaluations held there. Tyler was evaluated and received a 5-star rating! I was very excited! Now Tyler and I are learning about dressage. We recently competed in our first dressage schooling show. I love having my Tyler girl. I can ride her bare back without a bridle, in my pasture, of course. I wish everyone could find their perfect horse match.

62 The Vanner • 2015

Best Overall

72 The Vanner • 2015

Petey! Whether competing in large breed and open shows or at local schooling shows & venues, our Gypsy Vanner owners are all very proud of their horses.


ate in 2014, I first spoke on the telephone with a fairly new Gypsy Vanner owner, Mary Beth Werzalis of Upper Chichester, PA.

Mary Beth owns 4-year old Gypsy Vanner gelding, Peter CottonTail of Rocking Horse Ranch, who she affectionately refers to simply as Petey. While I don’t recall the original purpose of her call, I do remember the excitement in Mary Beth’s voice as she talked about the lessons they were taking and the fact that soon they would be attending their first Western Dressage schooling show together.

Combining chocolate and horses may sound impossible, but for David and Carol Dunbar it is a way of life. Skilled chocolatier, David, and his wife Carol, discovered Gypsy Vanner horses when David was working in England. When it came time to return to the states, three of these horses that had captured their hearts came with them; two colts and one mare: “Sparky”, “Cracker” and “Molly”. They are now one of the older Gypsy Vanner horse farms in the United States and have made multiple return trips overseas to observe and learn about the breeding trends with the major breeders. Carol says, “As a result of these trips, we made the decision to continue to stand Talbot’s Sparky due to his massive bone, conformation and temperament. He is considered old style by the breeders due to the amount of bone he has. Breeders are further reducing and refining the bone in the United States horses but “Sparky” passes heavier bone to his foals regardless of mare’s refinement.” Although the Dunbars own eight Gypsy Vanner horse mares, they limit their breeding to three or less each year. According to Carol, “We are able to spend more time with each foal this way and it also assures that each mare is foaling every two to three years. Though this is not the ideal according to big breeders, it works well for us.” For more information on Chocolate Horse Farm, visit their website at www.chocolatehorsefarm.com or call 417-461-1255

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Towards the end of January, she called back to report that they’d done it! She & Petey had attended their first show and she could not have been more proud of him. As we talked she told me about how well-mannered he was in the unfamiliar show environment and about how people were drawn to his beauty and temperament. It wasn’t about ribbons & scores, it was all about sharing her love for the Gypsy Vanner breed and her gelding, Petey! Congratulations, Mary Beth & Petey for completing your first show and thank you for getting out and demonstrating the unique Vanner temperament and versatility!

The Last Mile In November 2014 in Murrieta, California, a horse drawn “Caravan” journey kicked off for a trip across the United States. The trek was set to be completed four months later, with the arrival of the Caravan in Weirsdale, Florida at the Grand Oaks Resort. The Caravan, consisting of 10 driven Friesian horses, plus horse-

drawn wagons and single riders, numbering about 50 in all, rumbled onto the property after a 2,500 mile trip. They chose to cross the finish line at this beautiful venue, led by a mounted color guard with American, Canadian, Dutch and other flags. The Caravan was led by Michael Muir, great-grandson of famous environmentalist John

Muir; Dutch-born Canadian horse trainer and rider, Gerard Paagman and Jerre Russo. Muir, has had multiple sclerosis since his teen years and ambulates with the aid of a motorized chair. His carriage is equipped to accommodate his chair. His goal for making the trek is to encourage people with disabilities to be as active as possible and get out to

Pictured in photo front to back: Dan on Violet; Linda and Jose walking; Esmeralda and Bette pulling Bowtop; Bill driving Bowtop owned by Shenandoah Gypsy Vanner Horses; Gale in Bowtop; Gordon on Millie; Amanda on Sundance; Marvin on Luke; Felicia on Miss Q. 78 The Vanner • 2015

enjoy the great outdoors. He is using the trip to spread the word about Access Adventure, a therapeutic horse riding and driving club which seeks to enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities. Throughout the four-month trip, the planned route took the group to the deep south, through fields, over paved and gravel roadways, into the desert, small towns and big cities, where supporters in covered wagons, horse-drawn carriages and

single riders have joined along the way. Traveling at a slow pace, 4-5 miles an hour, covering only about 25 miles each day, enabled them to enjoy America’s beauty, on paved and unpaved roads, and meet many people. The group slept in tents and their travel trailers/wagons. They brought portable latrines, showers and lots of water for both the humans and the horses. On Saturday, March 14, horse enthusiasts, riders, drivers and horses

of every kind, joined the Caravan for their Last Mile of the journey finishing at the Grand Oaks Resort. Several Gypsy Vanner owners decided to join in either riding or driving during this Last Mile celebration! Some even dressed, and drove “Gypsy� style, with costume, and authentic Gypsy vehicles. All participants met and mingled with hundreds of visitors, who came out to see the spectacle and welcome the group at the end of their journey.

the last mile 79

Discovering the Vanner Horse and Building a Dream By Kathy Nelson


he first time I saw a Gypsy Vanner was at a Renaissance fair in 2011, a lovely black and white tobiano mare and her sweet black foal. I was drawn. The first things that caught my attention were the horses’ impressive demeanor, to maintain calm in the ‘fair’ environment, and all that glorious

The Fair Gypsy Vanner introduction was timely for me. I had been thinking I would very much like to have horses again after retirement. After I started reading phrases such as “Golden Retrievers with hooves” and “bombproof ”, I thought to myself, “Hmmm…a horse that won’t kill me after I retire: That’s the one for me!” I did not manage to hold out until retirement. I spotted my ideal of a very well put together horse, with balance and all that glorious bone, after searching on the internet for several months. I really did not know a lot about Gypsy Vanner conformation, only those traits of a healthy horse and athlete. This has worked out just 80 The Vanner • 2015

bone! My maternal Grandfather had spent quite a few evenings with me as a child going over the Thoroughbred greats and the important traits of those. Grandpa raised Thoroughbred’s in New Mexico. I learned from Grandpa that one of the key traits of great and healthy horses is good solid bone.

fine. MGRVV Sparkle is fabulous. We came home with Sparkle and her half-sister, MGRVV Patience, after visiting them both at their first home in Texas. These girls had been raised together and are the best of friends. With these two, we had the best of two worlds, the performance Gypsy Vanner, Sparkle, and the classic, Patience. These horses can do anything. Their movement is so beautiful. Sparkle has a penchant for fast moving, demanding endeavors (fast starts and sliding stops) and we look forward to training her to rein and perhaps low-level eventing as she matures. Patience is a wonderful trotter, and truly enjoys our little

holiday parade. She seems to look at all the interesting ‘fandangles’ and say “Oh Mom, I want one of those! Oh look at that, let’s bring home that!” Both mares have become wonderful moms, passing on their traits to future generations. …and now we have eight more! At Sonnet Gypsy Ranch in sunny east San Diego County, spring has brought our second batch of adorable Gypsy Vanner babies. Each Gypsy Vanner baby is so unique, both in color and personality. This is particularly apparent with this year’s pair. SGR Blue’s Spruce Zeus is ALL boy! He came out of his Mamma, Sparkle, bold, saucy and very people

friendly. Within the hour, he was ‘visiting’ us. Now, at a big two weeks old, he demands to be scratched, and if you don’t do it correctly, or if you dare stop, he scolds you. He whinnies to us to greet us, and also when anyone drives past him and off the property. “Whinny, whinny, whinny!”

to see and visit with her new friend. Oddly enough, tough guy Zeus did not quite know how to take this. Not to worry as their moms demanded a waiting period. Now, they all live together in a larger area, waiting until they are old enough to be introduced back into the herd who are VERY interested in the new babies.

SGR Blue Athena, is an exact opposite. While she does enjoy being scratched, Mamma Patience’ baby girl is very feminine, complete with long, long eyelashes, eyeliner and blue/green eyes, which she bats at Zeus. At only five days old now, Athena has set her cap for Zeus. On their first day visiting together in our larger paddock, Athena was ready

Last year’s foals, Sparkling Camus Colleen (Leena), Bonny King’s Treasure (Katie), and Mia’s Misty Blue Morning (Misty) are also each very much their own horse. Although, Leena and Katie are very tight, two pees in a pod, with Leena leading their misadventures. Misty, well she’s just Daddy’s (my husband Steve’s) little girl.

Despite all the differences, Gypsy Vanners all share an incredibly loving and friendly temperament. When you live with them, you can take this for granted, until someone, like our Vet, reminds us with “Your horses are such a pleasure to work with!”

disovering the vanner horse 81

Vanner Provides Huge Assist At Assisted Living Facility By Laurie Valentine

When my mother lived at Sunrise Assisted Living and Memory Care in Fair Oaks, CA, I had an opportunity to speak with the Activity Director and she thought having one of my Gypsy Vanner’s visit would be a wonderful diversion for the residents.   I opted to take my 15 year old broodmare, Gypsy Elite Misty, since I had seen her around strollers, wheelchairs and walkers

Misty, and how pretty she is and what a good girl she was. She got many pets, was exposed to new sounds and sights, stood quietly in a new confined space, ate a couple of apples and carrots and thoroughly enjoyed all the attention.  I heard “horse” stories from many residents who recalled their childhood.  It was such a positive experience for all of us. Misty was featured in the Sunrise Assisted Living newsletter and we were 84 The Vanner • 2015

invited back whenever we want to go. While the staff (many who’s fear of horses was erased in one fell swoop by being near calm, dear Misty) may not have realized it, but as we all know, we would not have had comfort with any other breed of horse in such close quarters, with so many around her in walkers and chairs.  We will repeat this wonderful experience.  There are other assisted living residences that we will contact for future visits.

before and I knew she would be her typical nonplussed Vanner self. We arrived just at the end of lunch time when all the residents were just off the rear patio in the dining room. It was a smaller area than I anticipated and Misty pretty well filled up the arbor area.  Visiting family members, elderly residents and the staff were all fascinated with


Medallion of Honor Winners

GB Hypnotic OWNER: kathleen slater

the pleasure’s mine 86 The Vanner • 2015

OWNER: rita susgin

Medallion of Honor horses have achieved qualifying scores in Conformation as well as English, Western AND Driving disciplines. These are truly VersAtile Vanners!

bandera tigermoth OWNER: sherri barnes

gg oz the wizard OWNER: reita parham versatility medallion of honor vanners


High point


Honorable Mention

Sovereign’s Titus

Owner: Cherie Jackson

cedar creek sd murphy Owner: jim & amy weiland

snow baby

Owner: melinda paret

gvr er’s sophie by bok

OwnerS: miranda lambert shelton & blake shelton

Buena’s Saidsea of Mill Cave

salem’s country makers mark

swf tia’s out of the blue

the king’s rendition

Owner: Benna Beyer

Owner: robin vesciglia

Owner: doug & jamie sharp

Owner: jason adams

high point awards


High point


Honorable Mention

beranda mirage

Owner: sherri barnes

swf tia’s princess in pearls Owner: robin visceglia

owen o’malley

vv deja blue

Owner:richard & wendy dean

Owner: robin visceglia

brackenhill’s the red one

shimmy of kastle rock

Owner: nancy hayden

Owner: kelly joyce

bellbottom cool dude

Owner:cj baker & carol rodsater

miss smarties

Owner: dan norman

Design: Stunning Steeds





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Owners: Gordon and Michele Muir



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2014 USDF All

Breed Awards

Love Biscuit

Owner: Ronald & Janet Adams 1st Open TRAINING Level Rider: Heather Caudill

Aodhan Lee

Owner: Lori Wilson 2nd Open FIRST Level Rider: Gillian Muir

Clononeen Lark

Owner: Judith Anne Mitchell 2nd Open TRAINING Level Rider: Heather Caudill


Owner: Melinda Paret 3rd Open TRAINING Level Rider: Heather Caudill usdf all breeds awards


Hippotherapy & the Gypsy Vanner Horse Breed By Madge Strohmeier M.S.CCC/SLP Hippotherapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input. Unlike therapeutic horsemanship (where specific riding skills are taught), the movement of the horse is a means to a treatment goal when utilizing hippotherapy as a treatment strategy. Most sessions are conducted without a saddle or reins. We currently use a variety of surcingles so the patient can feel the movement of the horse and have more of a connection with the horse. The horses walking gait moves the human body in a similar pattern to the human pelvis while walking. The therapist is able to work on increased trunk control, stability and breath support through the movement of the horse.  These functions increase speech and language. 108 The Vanner • 2015

The results of using Hippotherapy in my speech therapy program are amazing. Motivation is such a big part of my practice. I can tell so many stories of miracles that have happened with motivation and using horses. Patients who have been receiving therapy for a long period of time can get burnt out or just quit trying. Hippotherapy is something different each week. A new experience and just being with the horses. It provides input and independence and builds self esteem. Rhythm is also important. Horses ooze with rhythm. I have been a Speech Language Pathologist since 1998, treating children and adults for many communication disorders from Autism to Alzheimer’s. In 2010 I discovered Hippotherapy and immediately signed up for Hippotherapy Level 1 course at Nature’s Edge in WI and

Level 2 course at Greenlock Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc. in MA. I volunteered for months at Ride on St. Louis and Therapeutic Horsemanship now known as Tree House of Greater St. Louis. I am a registered therapist through Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH). I was very fortunate to have worked with some of the best therapists in equine therapy in the U.S. and attended courses by many greats from all over the world. After completing my training I realized my horses at the time were not appropriate for a therapy program. I began my search for the perfect breed and horses. Years prior I had the pleasure of meeting a beautiful drum horse by the name of OMF Imperial. He took my breath away. The Gypsy Vanner was first on my list to use in my program.

After meeting Imperial I read everything on the Internet I could find about the Gypsy Vanner Horse. My husband and I went to many breed shows, spoke to and visited many Gypsy Vanner breeders to see if these horses would be a good choice for therapy. We were looking for a horse with good overall conformation, temperament, soundness and movement quality. Although each horse had to be assessed individually we wanted a breed and individual horse with manners, confidence, obedience, acceptance of equipment and unique riders. Therapy horses have to carry unbalanced and often “dead” weight while moving calmly in a consistent rhythm and frame. This is a huge demand on the horse and it is the responsibility of the therapist in every program to ensure that the physical, mental and emotional well being of the therapy horses in their care is as good as it can possibly be. We felt the Gypsy Vanner would be perfect. We bought our first Gypsy Vanner, a gelding named Trelayne from OnceUponA Farm owned by Julia and Dan O’Neill in Canada. My current trainer/ instructor believes he is “magical” which is a huge compliment coming from her. He is a sweet soul and has a wonderful gait and temperament. The first time we met him he was doing vaulting with young girls at a training facility. It was love at first sight! We met our second Gypsy Vanner at Feathered Gold Stables in WI. Although we were not planning on buying a young horse or a filly we fell in love with Feathered Gold White Lace. She basically picked us by following us around while the others were busy eating. Denise Krause did a wonderful job with the basic baby training which gave her confidence and she trusted everyone. Again her temperament and conformation sold us on her. She was and is to this day curious about things other horses would shy from. We brought her home at six months of age and she has matured into a beautiful sound mare. Equine therapy activities are not for everyone. Each patient has to be assessed to see if it is safe or appropriate for his or her particular disorder. There are many things to learn before starting any type of equine therapy program, safety being the most important. Before you start a program with your loved one please check out the facility and their credentials. Has the staff completed any training? This includes side-walkers and volunteers. How long have they been in business? If you decide to donate a horse find out who will be taking care of the horse. What experience do they have with therapy and horses? Who will take the horse if the facility closes? There are no regulations in this industry mandating that a facility’s staff have a certain level of training or the facility maintain specified safety protocols. Many facilities have opened that have no experience or training through organizations such as PATH. For the last 4 years I have been working at Beverly Farm Equestrian Center in Illinois near my home. I have gained a lot of experience with a diverse population of patients and horses at Beverly Farm. Working at Beverly Farm has given me experience with different types of equipment and strategies, horses and patients in an equine environment. This year I will be using my Gypsy Vanners in our own program and couldn’t be more excited. They are back in training and doing fantastic. We will start seeing patients this summer! For more information on Hippotherapy contact me at equinoxspeech@gmail.com, www.equinoxtherapy.com or Americanhippotherapyassociation.org hippotherapy and the gypsy vanner breed


Dolce By Robin Viscegia

Hello! My name is Robin Visceglia and I own Stillwater Farm in Cashiers, NC. It gives me great pride and pleasure to look around my farm at my beautiful horses and look around my office at all the awards and trophies my horses have earned over the years. But there is one very special picture that always warms my heart a bit more than the others and it always brings a smile to my face. On the wall next to my desk is a picture of my mare, V. V. Dolce bred by Anne Crowley of Vintage Vanners that I purchased back in 2006. Little did we know then what a storied career Dolce would have. Dolce is a “rock star” in the world of therapeutic riding at Haven Hills Therapeutic Riding Center in Georgia. Since 1969 The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH), formerly the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association has been ensuring excellence and changing lives through equine assisted activities and therapies which promote health, fitness and socialization for people with special needs.

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Dolce has been in many Special Olympics and is currently the only horse at her facility to carry students in the Independent Saddle. This saddle has a supported back similar to a wheelchair, which allows a student to sit up, and be supported while in the saddle. Dolce has been described as an angel, the goto horse, the prettiest, and the most solid horse in the program. Experiencing the rhythmic motion of a horse can be beneficial to individuals who may face challenges such as paralysis, multiple sclerosis, autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, brain injury or post traumatic stress disorder. Studies have shown that children with cerebral palsy show significant head and trunk stability changes after just 12 weeks of hippo therapy. Hippo therapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input.

I think we all know what horses can do for us emotionally. Interacting with horses for anyone with emotional special needs has proven highly rewarding. Lives are changed through interaction with horses and research is beginning to substantiate these changes. Because of their fabulous calm temperaments Gypsy Vanners make great therapy horses. Dolce is 13.3hh and her small size makes her less intimidating than a “big” horse. She is sweet-tempered and steady. Nothing fazes this girl. She has the calm demeanor and easy attitude that therapy work requires. We are so proud of her accomplishments and so proud of her students. Through PATH, people with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges find strength and independence through the power of the horse. If you would like to learn more about PATH please visit their website at www.pathintl.org.

Gypsy Vanner, Spencer The Little Engine that Could Gypsy Vanner owner, Julie Anthony, of Morriston, FL has owned her Gypsy Vanner gelding, Spencer, from the time he was a yearling. A gift from her husband, at the time Julie, an accomplished driver with her other horses, decided that she would train Spencer to get involved in CDE competitions. She started him driving at age of 1-1/2 years on a light cart and then gradually stepped up the time & distance during his training sessions. She started endurance and distance riding because she wanted 112 The Vanner • 2015

to keep Spencer in shape for Combined Driving Events (CDEs) but felt she was sitting in a carriage too much and not riding enough. She felt endurance would take care of both Spencer’s and her own needs for conditioning. She tries to keep Spencer at a lean, but healthy weight, noting many owners of Gypsy Vanners do tend to keep them in a slightly overweight condition. Gypsy Vanner, Spencer, does not fit the ‘criteria’ for a distance riding horse. The thought of doing distance events

with a Gypsy Vanner seemed out of the question, but Julie thought why not be the first to do it? Some thought she was crazy! Their training program began and before you knew it, Spencer and Julie had completed their first Limited Distance (LD) event of 25 miles. Having enjoyed that experience they decided to keep at it and went on to do some Competitive Trail Rides (CTRs). They won Grand Champion two years in a row, completing 30 miles at each competition

“In driving he never rebelled ... It is the nature of the breed.” and finishing with a perfect 100 points for vet score both years. Both events were dominated by Arabs. In competitive and distance competition with a Gypsy Vanner, Julie notes that their biggest limitation is in maintaining his heart rate within a safe zone and dealing with the longer time it takes for him to cool down following prolonged work compared to other breeds. While this trait is inherent with the heavier boned horses, the abundance of hair inherent with the Gypsy Vanner horse breed does them no favors either, especially when living, training and competing in the Florida climate. Julie revealed that she regularly gives Spencer full body clips to facilitate his cooling. Any limitations of the Gypsy Vanner Horse are far outweighed by their smart & willing temperament. Julie remarks that the Gypsy Vanner is “…a very fun, calm breed to have.  Their best characteristic is their temperament.” A Gypsy Vanner is one of the easiest breeds to be around and to work with.    The first time Anthony mounted Spencer, he did nothing. He quickly went on to become a great trail horse.   In driving he never rebelled, kicking the carriage or similar.   It is the nature of the breed.   Julie and Spencer have also won at their Division in CDE Preliminary Level competitions. While she still drives Spencer daily for both exercise and fun, her focus is on continuing to ride him in endurance trail competitions, both for the personal challenge and to prove that the Gypsy Vanner horse can be competitive and is one of the most versatile breeds. As of April 2015 Spencer and Julie have logged 361 competition miles and they hope to continue on to achieve the next big milestone, 500 miles. spencer, the little engine that could


Wow! We had made it and what a journey it had been to the United States Dressage Federation Finals


As a young girl, I had always dreamed of having a competitive performance horse and possibly ride in the Olympics, but as life happens, those dreams faded away until the day many years later when I was introduced to my first Gyspy Vanner and a new dream emerged. I ended up owning two Gypsy Vanners. Even though my horses were beautiful to look at, I wanted to show folks that our beautiful Gypsy Vanners were more than just a pretty face and could be out there as performance horses. The place I kept my horses at the time specialized in the training of dressage horses. Dressage seemed the perfect fit to show off our horse’s versatility and we decided to give

it a try. They were flashy enough to grab the judge’s attention as long as they could still do the complicated maneuvers. Phantom has an incredible work ethic so I thought it would be a perfect match; little did I know just how much training goes into producing a competitive dressage horse. Once I made the decision to pursue dressage seriously, I knew the key would be to find the best dressage trainer that would be able to work with Phantom and some of the special challenges Gypsy Vanners can present. I was lucky to have found Heather Caudill in Florida. I knew she would be perfect for Phantom. Ironically, the first Gypsy Vanner born in the US, Kuchi, owned by


Wow! We had made it and what a journey it had been to the United States Dressage Federation Finals being held at the Kentucky Horse Park! On November 9th at 7:30 am Sunday morning, Phantom (ridden and trained by Heather Caudill) became the first Gypsy Vanner to qualify and attend that prestigious event. Phantom and Heather had an amazing ride in their First Level Musical Freestyle performance scoring a wonderful 67.667 (average of 3 judges) to finish 12th out of 24 horses. The competition was very tough and only 0.5 separated them from placing in the ribbons. One Olympic judge gave Phantom a score of 70. He was only one of 7 horses to have scored a 70 or above with that judge. Phantom gave it his all even with their ride being the first go of the day. It was hard to believe that six short years before, neither Phantom nor I had ever ridden dressage let alone competed in it. Phantom had come a long way. Many tears of joy were shed by “Team Phantom” as he completed his routine. The road to the USDF final had been a long one filled with long hours of training and hard work. It truly was a team effort. Lots of love and joy went into helping this team make a dream become a reality. It was a thrill of a lifetime to see their names and scores up in lights on the scoreboard after their dancing “disco” routine!

Bill and Wendy Ricci, was also trained by Heather Caudill. Kuchi was the first Gypsy Vanner to attend a USDF Regional Championship back in 2009. At that time there were no USDF Finals. What a wonderful tradition from Kuchi to Phantom with their trainer Heather. Dressage is a French term, most commonly translated to mean “training.” The horse and rider are expected to perform a series of predetermined movements. The execution of these precision movements by the horse should be in response to barely perceptible signals from its rider. The

rider should be relaxed and appear effort-free while the horse willingly performs the requested movement. Dressage has been commonly referred to as “Horse Ballet.” Its purpose is to develop, through progressive training, a horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to perform. In dressage competitions, successful training  at the various levels is demonstrated through the performance of “tests.” At each level of test, the movements become more difficult and challenging. Last year, two registered Gypsy Vanner horses qualified for the USDF Finals and history was made for our breed. The GVHS graciously offered sponsorship for both horses that qualified for this special event. Unfortunately, the other horse, Pepperooga’s Parnoo Ori, owned by Sara Bartholomew, was unable to attend the finals. In order to qualify for the finals, horses must compete in several USDF qualifying shows and do various tests at the level they are competing in. They must achieve certain scores in those tests in order to attend Regional Championships. Once the horses have competed at the Regional Championships, they must then achieve a certain placing or score to be invited to participate at the Finals. It is quite an achievement for our Gypsy Vanners to have even qualified. Phantom is now showing at Second Level and has qualified to begin competing in Second Level Freestyle. Freestyle is a routine done to music. We hope as the year progresses to be able to qualify for USDF Region Three Championships. If all goes well with Phantom and Heather, hopefully we will also be attending the USDF Finals once again! USDF dressage seems to be gaining tremendous popularity among the Gypsy Vanners and we look forward to seeing many more Gypsy Vanners on the road to the USDF Finals!

Road to the usdf finals


Team Gypsy Vanner 2014 Fan Favorites!

Spruce Meadows TELUS Battle of the Breeds presented a different format for 2014 and scaled back to just Barrel Racing and two Trail events.

By Jackie Johnson


he first trail ride class saw Team Gypsy Vanner in the ribbons with a 6th place standing putting them in the middle of the pack of teams. They were just shy of stealing the 5th place spot from the Appaloosa team, but for an ill-timed gust of wind which took the super-ball obstacle over a pylon. Both North Fork Cash, and Clononeen Tullamore Dew completed the Bonus obstacle which consisted of taking a Telus phone book from one phone booth, through a water hazard and delivering to a second phone booth.

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As the weather conditions deteriorated, and riders began to shiver, the team prepared for the barrel race event on wet, uncertain ground. With the arena pulling in an average running time of 21.85 seconds team Gypsy Vanner was only .22 seconds from a second 6th place ribbon after running late in the draw on heavily chewed up, saturated and uneven ground. North Fork Cash ran a 22.67 second run with Bailey coming in at 23.28. It should be duly noted that our beloved Gypsy Vanners were running against horses coming off world

champion wins and placed strong right in the middle of the pack, and ahead of team Quarter Horse! While the second trail ride event saw the return of the same riders from the first trail event, Team Gypsy Vanner decided that the contributions of a team are dependent on all of its members. Clononeen Tullamore Dew returned as anchor for Rollin Thunder Bailey who entered the trail class for the first time ever. At this point in the competition the team had the opportunity to put some valuable experience on all of the horses in preparation for the next battle event. Both Tully and Bailey completed the bonus obstacle of dragging a log around a pylon. The final placing for Team Gypsy Vanner in this Spruce Meadows 2014 Battle of the breeds was 7th which brought them up 5 spots from their 12th place finish at this venue in 2013. The team placed just as they had competed, strong and steady in the middle of the pack against some of the toughest competitors they’ve ever been up against! But the story doesn’t end there!! The absolute highlight of the event was the collective efforts of Gypsy Vanner enthusiasts everywhere uniting to vote Team Gypsy Vanner the Fan Favourite! Clononeen Tullamore Dew, Rollin Thunder Bailey and North Fork Cash entered the coveted International Ring to accept the Fan Favourite award, on National Live Television, from the owner of Spruce Meadows, and Telus CEO event sponsors. Overall team Gypsy Vanner proved themselves to be steady and reliable contenders in a top notch field of competitors, as well as the undisputed crowd favourite! By Jackie Johnson

telus battle of the breeds


Event ing

Gypsy Vanners


By Shannon Hanley

venting the Gypsy Vanner can be an amazing experience for both horse and rider!

The breed has the personality and strength to be the perfect Eventing prospect! Before you start, here are a couple things to take into consideration...

First, is your Vanner athletic enough? A whole day of showing at any discipline is hard enough on any horse, but to have Dressage, Show Jumping and a Cross Country course all in one day can be very grueling. You must make sure that your horse isn’t physically pushed too far, to where they risk incurring injury. Second, is your Vanner Fit enough? You must ensure that your horse won’t get hurt by building up their endurance and stamina very slowly. Doing a lot of walking and trotting uphill increasing to canter and gymnastic jumping work will play a big part in creating a fit Eventing horse. A big tip to build your horse up properly, especially Gypsy Vanners, is to start including trot and canters downhill. Vanners are originally built 118 The Vanner • 2015

to pull, meaning that their weight is predominately on their forehand while riding. Safely teaching your horse to trot downhill, requires the focus to be on setting your horse on its hind end, which will help balance them. Once balanced correctly, build it up slowly and safely to cantering downhill, giving even greater importance to sitting your horse on their hind end. These exercises will build the correct muscles for Cross Country jumping and balance for their actual course. Also, being able to canter down hills while out on Cross Country will save you precious time during your course. I have the pleasure to work with quite a few Gypsy Vanners and thankfully I have the freedom to find out what discipline each horse seems to enjoy and excel in. I am pleasantly

surprised at how many of them really enjoy Eventing. Prince Honz of DeerFields Stables has successfully shown in a few Events. Dressage and Show Jumping were disciplines that he was already in training for, but it was seeing him light up doing some Cross Country during a Hunt that sparked me to attempt him in Eventing. With the right conditioning and schooling, we were able to compete Entry Level and place at his very first show! We moved up to Pre-Training and he placed Second overall. It was such a blast and a lot of fun to see how much he enjoyed every part of it. We currently have two of DeerFields’ Gypsy Vanners in training for Eventing. I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for us!

eventing gypsy vanners


Ranch Work By Gale Rempel

Gypsy Vanners, Versatile enough to do Ranch Work One of the most appealing aspects of Ranch Sorting is the diversity of horse breeds in the sport. While some may consider this riding discipline best suited for stock-type horses, most competitions are open to every breed of horse, registered or not. After my Ranch Quarter Horse gelding became ill, I needed a horse to use for our sorting practices. My Gypsy Vanner mare, “Abby” filled in, and has been sorting for the last couple of years. Ranch sorting is a western-style equestrian sport that evolved from the common ranch work of separating cattle into pens for branding, doctoring, or transport. In a sorting competition, a team of two riders on horseback, move a herd of ten cattle in numerical order, one at a time, from one round pen into a separate adjoining pen in sixty seconds or less. Teamwork is

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the key with both riders working in harmony to cut out the correct cow and drive it to the pen while keeping the wrong numbered cattle back. In sorting, the numbers do matter, any cow that crosses the line, either out of order or the wrong number, will result in a ‘no time’ for the team. Horse and rider use their combined athleticism, horsemanship and general “cowiness” to humanely separate particular cows and herd them into the pen. Sorting offers participants the opportunity to incorporate all of their working cow horse skills in a fast-paced, fun, team-oriented competition while embracing the roots of the western lifestyle. Abby loves her ranch work, and has not let me down yet. Her willingness to push a cow and move it where I am asking, is enjoyable teamwork, and true to form for this wonderful Gypsy Vanner versatile breed of equine.


orse lovers and owners alike don’t think twice about climbing aboard their trusty steed, or sitting in their carriage as their equine partner does his job. The relationship you have with your horse is a beautiful one. We groom, fuss, and love on our horses, as we do our daily chores of horse ownership.

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Driving Miss Abby by Bob Giles & Gale Rempel

What if you were in a wheel chair? Your love for horses very strong, and your desire to be able to work with them even stronger. My friend Rick is in a wheel chair suffering from Spina Bifida. Daily chores we take for granted are a difficult task. This has not slowed Rick down. He volunteers at a local Farm Park, which is open to the public for farming educational purposes. Along with the cows, sheep, goats and pigs, there are horses. Most of them are driving horses and ponies. Rick helps with their grooming. I met him a few years ago, and I knew that my Vanner, Abby (Cushti Bok X Secret Desire) could give him the experience that he longed for. He wanted to drive a horse himself. I hold driving clinics at my farm in Ohio, with well-known driver, trainer and clinician Bob Giles. Rick wanted to join the festivities, and come and watch the clinic. I told him that he could drive Abby, if we could get him in the carriage, while he was under the guidance of Bob Giles. Rick watched and observed the lessons previous to his. Part of each lesson is harnessing, and learning safety. So before Rick could drive Abby, he had to harness her himself, from his wheelchair. It was amazing as Abby lowered her head to be bridled, and his wheelchair would bump into her legs as he was adjusting the harness, and she never moved a muscle. As Rick took his first spin around the arena, with Bob beside him, and friend Steve behind holding him in, there was not a dry eye to be had in the spectator section. Rick was beaming with a nervous and wide grin. The sort of uncontrollable grin that accompanies living one’s dream. What a thrill to see

my Gypsy Vanner Abby, being so careful and kind knowing Rick was driving. He graduated through the weekend to be driving by himself in my pastures. I asked both Rick, and trainer Bob Giles to give me a paragraph or two on feeling, and experiences with horses and driving. Bob Giles states, “As a disabled Veteran, trainer, clinician, judge and competitor in the carriage driving world I feel it my obligation to bring other disabled people into the sport. In 2014, I had the honor of representing USA in carriage driving at the World Equestrian Games for the disabled in Sandringham, England. I was able to secure an individual Silver medal, with team USA receiving the Bronze. Nothing on this earth can give you a higher sense of nobility and the awesome feeling of power that you get when you are riding astride, or in a carriage behind a horse. When a person is elevated to the position of the saddle or carriage then the stigma associated with a disability is gone. You are without wheelchair, crutches, braces and such. Now we are on par with everyone else. I will never forget my first time coming out of the woods in Maine, in 1955 with a huge pair of Belgian draft horses, and a mighty big load of logs. I have never felt of myself as ordinary since that day. The ability to transfer the power of the horse to our hands is probably the 8th wonder of the world, and is achieved best through kindness from the heart. “ Rick shares, “My name is Rick, and I use a wheelchair. In 2003, I started volunteering with horses at Lake Metroparks Farmpark, in Kirtland, Ohio. Having a handicap and having to use a wheelchair is tough, even tougher when you are working around horses. The first 3 to 4 years were challenging, I had to take

a very cautious and slow approach being around the horses. I first met Gale Rempel at the Farmpark a few years ago during one of our annual events called Horsefest. Gale happened to be an exhibitor and it was also where I first saw my first Gypsy Vanner, a mare named Abby. A few years later I heard about a driving clinic that Gale was having. I was just going to observe and learn about harnessing safety, learn different driving techniques, meet new people and see different horses. I was thrilled and admittedly a little nervous when Gale offered to let me drive Abby. I wasn’t going to pass that opportunity up! Driving Abby was pretty awesome! I also had the privilege of meeting Bob Giles at this clinic as well. I didn’t know who he was, just that he was a wellknown clinician and driver. When Bob started working with me I didn’t have anything specific that I wanted to work on so he set up some barrels and cones. The cones were easy, but going around barrels and in between the trees scattered around Gale’s pasture was different, especially considering that I was going at a slightly faster pace than a walk! It was a little scary and exhilarating at the same time. I had a lot of fun, and appreciate Bob, Gale and of course Abby for the opportunity to drive. I can’t wait to do it again! “ In conclusion I’d like to think our Amazing Versatile Gypsy Vanners, with their keen sense of human partnership can help adults & children with physical disabilities to develop better coordination, strength, posture, & motor skills.

driving miss abby


A few Vanner Health Tips from Aunt Fannie Vanner


(Greetings from Aunt Fannie) Let’s talk about hoof care and farrier visits. Our folks invest in all sorts of care for us, one being a good farrier. Most folks believe a good farrier is worth their weight in gold because a horse needs to be able to move. A good rule of thumb for our owners and/or managers is to check our legs and hooves on a regular basis for any kind of issue which could affect us prior to the problem becoming a real issue. The key is finding possible problems early along with prevention. Cleaning out debris from the bottom of our hooves whether it is mud, small rocks or manure on a regular basis is important. Checking the outside wall of our hooves under our feather is also a good idea when performing a visual check for any problems with the hoof wall. Finding a qualified farrier may be daunting for new or even seasoned horse owners. Advice for locating

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a qualified farrier in your area is to inquire with local horse owners, talk to your veterinarian for references and use the internet. Three useful websites have been located to help those who need a farrier or information concerning shoeing and farriers. The American Farriers website (www. americanfarriers.org) list certified and journeyman farriers within their organization for each state. American Farriers Journal Directory is a monthly publication by Lessiter Publications with internet viewing at (www. americanfarriers.org/publications) has updates on shoeing rules and listings for farriers. Hoofprints (www. hoofprints.com) accepts business cards of farriers for all 50 states plus globally for help in locating a reputable farrier in your locale. Once you’ve found a farrier with whom you’ve developed a relationship to discuss hoof issues, together you can make the right choices for your horse. The farrier visits should normally occur every four to eight weeks unless there

is an issue of hoof unsoundness which will require shorter lengths between visits to return your Gypsy Vanner to good hoof health. Healthy hooves are vital to our health, well-being, and usefulness. Trimming is necessary to prevent sand cracks, quarter cracks and breaking off of the hoof wall, which can result in lameness. Trimming is also needed to establish correct length, hoof angle and balance so we may move consistently and easily. By receiving regular hoof care by a qualified farrier we are safer to ride and less likely to develop hoof disorders which may require a veterinarian’s care. Whether to shoe or not depends on the health and condition of the hoof, performance requirements, environmental conditions, and the surface upon which the horse will be used. Regardless of whether the horse is being shod or trimmed, it is important to keep in mind the feet should be trimmed in such a manner as to keep them in a condition as close as possible to which nature intended.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO? An Insurance Story By Marla Moore

Your horse is suffering from colic. You call your veterinarian. He comes to your farm and tells you that he can probably save your horse with surgery. You ask the cost and he tells you it will be around $5,000. You don’t have the money so what do you do? You love your horse, you don’t want to have him euthanized, but you can’t afford the surgery. If you carry Major Medical coverage on the horse, it is a very easy solution and you can breathe a sigh of relief. It gives you the luxury of telling your vet to go ahead and perform the necessary surgery knowing that you will only have to pay the deductible and perhaps some insignificant uncovered charges. Major medical coverage is purchased as an endorsement to the Mortality (life insurance) policy. Medical coverage will not cover any “well horse care” such as routine checkups, vaccinations, routine pregnancy checks or normal foaling, but does provide coverage for any illness, disease or accident that requires veterinary care or surgery that occurs during the policy period. The average cost for medical coverage is anywhere from $450 to $675 depending on the company and the amount of coverage purchased. The deductible is normally around $500 per claim and the average coverage amount is $10,000 to $15,000. Using this same scenario, let’s say you do have Mortality and Major Medical coverage on your horse in the amount of $15,000 mortality and $10,000 medical insurance. Your vet clinic presents you with a total bill of $5,000. You will pay your $500 deductible and the $50 initial farm call that your vet made to your farm ( not a covered charge)

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and the company will pay 80% of $5,000 = $4,000 - $500 deductible - $50 farm call = $3,450 net payment for your claim. In the unfortunate event that your horse would die from the occurrence, you would also be paid the insured value of $15,000, a total insurance payment to you of $18,450. For an annual premium of $413 mortality plus $475 medical ($888 total insurance cost) and $1,550 out of pocket cost, you have recouped a total of $18,450. Not a bad investment. **Some companies even include free emergency colic surgery expense even if you do not carry Medical coverage, usually in the amount of $3,000 - $3,500. In the event of a colic surgery you would also get this amount paid to further reduce the vet bill. Consider discussing Major Medical with your equine agent. He or she can best advise you of any exclusions and benefits of this valuable coverage. As you can see, it is a great way to help manage your veterinary expenses and give you peace of mind knowing that you have protected your investment and you will not be financial strapped in case of a medical emergency. **Marla Moore is an agent with Independent Equine Agents in Louisville, KY. They are a full service equine insurance agency specializing in equine, farm, and liability insurance, representing A rated companies. Established over 30 years ago, they write coverage in all states as well as Canada and Europe.

Be Prepared Trailering Tips By Jamie Sharp

It is a joy to take our versatile Vanners out to meet the public and do new things. Whether you are going to a show, parade, fair or trailering to a trail ride, it is helpful to be prepared to travel with your horses. We have attended many such events over the years and have found that knowing what to bring along to keep our horses safe and comfortable makes the trip more enjoyable. When we travel with the horses the first thing we do is to be sure that our horses are up to date on their vaccinations. Often there are additional ones recommendations for horses leaving the ranch like Strangles and Potomac Fever. We also have current Coggins test and a health certificate when crossing state lines. Since ours is a brand inspection state, we also carry our hauling cards as proof of ownership when traveling over 60 miles from home. We make a habit of placing all of the horse documents in an envelope which we tuck into the pocket 128 The Vanner • 2015

on the visor of our vehicle. That way everyone in our group knows where the paperwork is and we never have trouble finding it. Day trips are easy. We often travel long distances and we do not like to leave our horses standing in slant stalls overnight. There are horse motels which can be found in books and on the internet. Unfortunately there is no a standard for them and if you have not had a chance to visit beforehand you never know what they will be like. We have been pleasantly surprised and downright horrified. Most of our trailers are stock trailers. Although it limits the number of horses we can travel with, we often only take one horse per compartment and let them lose in their little box stall when we stop for the night. They also worry less with familiar surroundings. Maintaining good footing in the trailer in the trailer is important. We use rub-

ber mats and they seem to allow for good traction. We put a pile of shavings toward the hind end of the horse to absorb any urine. We add more shavings and a layer of straw when traveling with young horses, who tend to lay down a lot. What you choose should depend upon the amount of air passing through your trailer. Blowing bedding can make the ride as uncomfortable for your horse as slippery floors. An old cowboy shared a neat trick for hauling. He kept a bag of playground sand in his trailer and tossed a bit on the trailer floor especially when it was icy or wet. It really helps the horses to not slip in these conditions. We try bring as much hay as we can. For long trips with multiple horses this is difficult but changing feed can stress your horse or lead to belly aches. We use feed bags which can be hung in the trailer during transport, moved outside for rest stops and brought to the stall. Some people use hay nets but I have heard of

The Foal is the Goal:

Etiquette tips for stallion and mare owners when dealing with shipped semen By Samantha Van Sickle

Foaling season is one of my favorite times of the year. The promise of new life and all the endless possibilities that come with bringing a precious Gypsy Vanner foal into the world. While the foal is always the goal, a successful foaling season must first be proceeded by an equally successful breeding season. The prospect of dealing with shipping semen can be daunting for both stallion and mare owners. It’s a process that requires preparation, good communication skills and a working understanding of equine reproduction. As modern developments allow us greater and more consistent success with shipped semen it opens up a wide new world of breeding possibilities. Stallions that used to be inaccessible to certain mare owners due to geographical limitations are now readily accessible. As with all great new developments, this one comes with its own unique set of issues as well. The goal of this article is to give some helpful insight into the roles and responsibilities of the mare and stallion owner. When it comes to breeding, communication is key and the stallion and mare owner must know what is expected of them in order to successfully meet those expectations. The Stallion Owner: 132 The Vanner • 2015

Having a solid and well thought out breeding

contract is foundational when you stand a stallion to the public. A breeding contract should include pertinent information such as the stud fee and booking fee, requirements for your Live Foal Guarantee if you offer one, particulars if you have a specific cutoff date for your breeding season, required advance notice for collections and shipments, cost of collections and shipments, and shipping days. Do you require a clean culture or other type of reproductive exam from the mare owner before the first shipment or only after a certain number of unsuccessful attempts? It is a good idea to go over your breeding contract at the end of each breeding season and update or streamline any areas that may need it. Having a solid contract will save you and the mare owner time, trouble and confusion in the future while fostering a positive and stress-free business relationship. Will you be standing your stallion at your own farm and then hauling him out to you veterinarian or breeding facility when collections are needed or will you send your stallion to a breeding facility or stallion station full time to stand for the season? Make sure to do your research when it comes to choosing who will be handling your stallion’s breeding because whomever you choose will end up becoming the public face of your stallion and


your program to some extent. Chances are that the mare owners will be dealing with this person either to order semen, return containers and/or possibly asking questions or voicing concerns to them. Working with someone who is knowledgeable and experienced will help to make your breeding season run much smoother. Find out what their specific requirements and costs are so you can make any necessary changes to your breeding contract and so you are prepared to meet their scheduling requirements. Most facilities have specific days they collect and specific cutoff times to get a semen order placed by. It’s a good idea to find out what their policy is on last minute collection requests because there is a pretty good chance you will get them throughout the season and you need to know what to tell the mare owner or requesting veterinarian. Once you have the what, where and who for your collections all lined up it’s time to start thinking about clean out collections and semen analysis. These should be scheduled to happen a few weeks before your first scheduled shipment of the season. A stallion’s semen quality, concentrations and sensitivity can change from year to year and that is why starting the year off with a proper semen analysis is so important. There is a selection of semen extenders available and not every one will work with each stallion and what works one year, may not work as well the next year. The semen analysis will not only let you know which extender the semen will ship the best in but it will also give you a general idea of the stallion’s progressive motility and concentration. This is information you want to have on hand to give to mare owners and their veterinarians if they request it and it will also let compare your stallion’s numbers from year to year, giving you the ability to possibly catch an issue or illness that might not be otherwise readily noticeable. By starting your breeding season well prepared, you will be setting you, your business and you stallion up for success. Issues may still arise from time to time but you should have the tools to work them out. As a stallion owner, you are the one that advocates for your stallion so be mindful about keeping his information updated if you have it listed on a website, social media, etc…Make sure mare owners know how to reach you or your stallion manager and 134 The Vanner • 2015

be prompt when returning inquires. Mare owners will appreciate the extra effort and you will build a foundation of loyal and happy customers. The Mare Owner: Kick your breeding season off on the right hoof by starting with a Vanner mare that is in good health and proper weight and, whether or not the stallion owner requires it, it’s a good idea to have a breeding soundness exam and culture performed by your veterinarian. Making sure these bases are covered in advance of ordering semen can not only save you the time, trouble and expense of needing multiple shipments but it will also be greatly appreciated by your vet, the stallion owner and anyone else directly involved in the breeding process.

Now, your mare is ready, you have the ideal Vanner stallion picked out and it’s time to sign the contract and start working towards your end goal of that perfect Vanner foal The most important rule, read your contract. Don’t just skim it, read it and feel free to ask questions if you need specific points to be clarified. This contract is designed to protect you, the mare owner, as well as the stallion owner. It details the rights, responsibilities and expectations of both parties. The contract should address almost every problem that could arise in the course of the breeding relationship. So, ask yourself “what if...?” and the answer to any question you may have should be found in the contract. A contract is meant to address and hopefully resolve problems before they arise. If a contract is heavily slanted toward the stallion owner, i.e., no live foal guarantee, no refunds if the stallion becomes unavailable due to long term illness, sterility or death, unreasonable expenses, etc., think twice before booking!

This is where the importance of good communication comes in. Most contracts require 48hrs notice to order semen. This allows the stallion owner time to make shipping and collection arrangements. At this point in the process you should be keeping a pretty close eye on your mare’s cycles, whether through teasing or having your vet scan her. Contact the stallion owner on the first day that your mare comes in so they know to anticipate your needs and can then schedule collections accordingly. This is especially important if the stallion is being actively shown or is having a heavy breeding season. Most stallion owners understand that mares can come in season unexpectedly and/or will occasionally have a very short cycle. With that in mind, some stallion owners may choose to make exceptions and collect on shorter notice but never count on that. It is in the stallion owners’ best interest to have your mare settle in foal quickly. Having to ship multiple times can become quite expensive, not to mention the toll it can take on a stallion with a busy schedule. This brings us back to the importance of getting your mare cultured and examined by your veterinarian at the beginning of the season so you can generally rule out mare related health issues. Always make sure you are staying within the parameters of your breeding contract as failure to do this can void your contract. Depending on what type of shipping container you receive your shipment in, it may need to be returned to the stallion owner or their veterinarian. Do this promptly to avoid late return fees and because the stallion owner will appreciate not running low on containers or having to track them down. When you return a container, make sure it’s clean. Do not return a container with an unused dose or used syringes/ bags. Extenders are milk based and coolant cans or ice packs are far from cool when you return them. Once your mare is bred, work with your veterinarian to calculate what day to perform a pregnancy check and communicate the results promptly to the stallion owner. This will allow them to either mark you off their books if your mare is in foal or prepare for another collection and shipment if not. Remember, communication is key when it comes to having a successful breeding season; communication and some good humor and patience. The foal is the goal and if everyone works together it’s an attainable goal.

Profile for Angela Blake

Gvhs the vanner 2015  

The Vanner - The Versatile Vanner. A magazine dedicated to preserving the Gypsy Vanner Breed through education, evaluation and registration...

Gvhs the vanner 2015  

The Vanner - The Versatile Vanner. A magazine dedicated to preserving the Gypsy Vanner Breed through education, evaluation and registration...


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