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January 6, 2014

Gypsy Vanner horses thrive in Cooke County

Cooke County — Gypsy Vanner horses are flourishing in the Cooke County area as Bob Smith’s Cavallina Ranch off  FM 902 just west of Lake Kiowa has 22 of the black and white steeds cavorting in the pastures.

The horse originated in England just after World War I where dark horses were confiscated by the British cavalry for use in fighting the German war machine.

As portrayed in the movie “War Horse,” many of these horses were lost or killed during the war.

With a shortage of horse back home, the colorful black and white  Gypsy Vanner breed was developed by gypsy travelers of Ireland and Great Britain who needed the caravan horse for pulling their covered wagons. The large amount of white on the horses would make them undesirable for military use.  

In the English Chambers dictionary vanner is defined as “a horse suitable to pull a caravan or wagon.”  

Smith said, “In 1992, the Gypsy Vanner horses arrived in the United States, brought over by American Dennis Thompson. The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society (GVHS) is the registry studbook for the breed and is the first in the world for the Gypsy Horse.  It was originally founded by Dennis and Cindy Thompson in 1996, but is now run by a Board of Directors.”

The flashy and colorful horse with a full mane, full tail and lots of feathers on their feet has been called a people sized draft horse,

It is a horse that has the heavy bones and the broad, compact body of a draft horse, but on a smaller scale than the larger draft breeds from its ancestors. They stand between 13.5 and 15.5  hands.

Smith has been raising Gypsy Vanners for about eight years at his Cavallina Ranch.

“When I first saw these horses I was hooked,” Smith said. “Not only are they a joy to look at but their calm and gentle disposition makes for a great people horse.”

 Since they were created for pulling wagons, Gypsy Vanners excel at being driven, but they are also being used in dressage, Western riding, hunt seat, low jumping, and have even been used on occasion for cutting cattle. With the rider relatively close to the ground mounting is easier, so the gypsies are great horses for children. While not being built for speed or agility, the Gypsy Vanner makes a very stable all-around mount well suited to most equestrian sports.

For more information on the Gypsy Vanner horse, contact Bob Smith at (940) 727-8590.

 

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