The Temperament of Gypsy Horses

Written by crystal lassen
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The Temperament of Gypsy Horses
The Gypsy Horse is a suitable pet and work horse. (horse image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com)

Though it originated in Europe, the gypsy horse is growing in popularity in the United States due to its tame personality. A generally calm horse, the gypsy horse is ideal in working situations such as hauling wagons or marching in parades. The breed's demeanour and stature also make it an excellent horse for beginning riders or children.

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History of the Gypsy Horse

The gypsy horse is known in the United States as the gypsy vanner horse. This horse was bred by the gypsy people of England and Ireland, and was known for pulling carts or caravans with heavy loads. These horses were so coveted that often they were the preferred currency over money for trade of goods and services. They are generally exceptional with children as they are known for being a calm horse, and make outstanding pets and riding companions.

These horses are known for having a thick tail and long hair that begins at the knee and covers the front of the hoof.

General Temperament

When properly bread and nurtured in an acceptable environment, the gypsy horse is known to be reserved and docile. The mild temperament of the gypsy horse is said to be inherent, not learnt. This characteristic makes them suitable pets and working animals as they are known as both a riding and driving horse.

Temperament and Breeding

It is especially important when breeding these horses that the mare is gentle and easy-going as her offspring will learn by example. If a gypsy horse is perceived to be unwilling, this behaviour is thought to be abnormal and could be a possible sign of a problem with breeding or care.

The Gypsy Vanner Horse

The gypsy vanner horse is closely related to the gypsy cob horse. The only difference between the two are the registries. The GCDHA and the GCSA register cob horses, while the GVHS registers vanner horses. Though the requirements are similar, each registry varies slightly. Crossbred vanners are not eligible for registry, and registration for a vanner is largely dependent on lineage, age and gender.

The Drum Horse

The vanner horse differs from the drum horse in breeding. The drum horse is a vanner horse that has been crossed with a Clydesdale, Shire or gypsy cob. Both horses are of the working variety and maintain similar docile temperaments.

The drum horse is named after its line of work, as it originated in England as a kettle drum carrier in processions for the royal family. Its rider maintained control over the horse using reins attached to the stirrups only, as his hands were preoccupied with the drums. As the drum horse is a ancestor of the gypsy horse, its pleasing personality and dignified appearance made it ideal for ceremonies.

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