Gypsy Vanner Horses: breed profile, data and care

The Gypsy Vanner horse breed has quickly made a name for itself as one of the top choices among the equestrian community, and with good reason too.

These horses are known for their excellent temperament and magnificent plumage

Therefore, in this article we would like to discuss everything there is to know about this breed, so that you better understand why it may be one of the most popular horse breeds in the world right now.

But before we get into the logistics, let’s first take a history lesson as we review the humble beginnings of the Gypsy Vanner:

The origins and history of the Gypsy Vanner breed

Gypsy Vanner Breed Origins
Superior Stables Vanners /

The first sighting of the Gypsy Vanner was reported by Gypsies in  Britain  . They were the first ones who decided to find the perfect breed of horse that could serve them well.

These horses needed to have the strength and constitution to easily pull their caravans, which was no easy task considering how heavy they were.

On top of that, this breed also needed to be mild-tempered, gentle, and easy to train, which was very difficult to achieve at that time.

So, they decided that instead of opting for an existing breed, they could take advantage of this time and breed their own horses.

They took the Shire and Clydesdale breeds and combined their genes to get both their size and strength.

Clononeen Farm Gypsy Horses

​But that’s not all, shortly after they also decided to add the genes of the Dales pony and the Fell pony to the mix, bringing their creation to life and officially calling it the Gypsy Vanner breed. This breed first arrived in the United States around 1996, only for an official registry called the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society to be established later that year  .

While it had its fair share of ups and downs over the years, it should come as no surprise that the Gypsy Vanner breed soon became one of the most popular breeds out there.

But why did it take so long to be recognized by the mainstream media and, more importantly, what makes it so great and desirable in the first place? Let’s find out.

Gypsy Vanners  Appearance and Features 

Gypsy Vanners Appearance

To start with, we should mention here that Gypsy Vanner horses are  quite small in stature  , with most of them ranging between 12.2 and 16 hands tall. But just because they are a little smaller you should not rule them out as  draft horses  because they are especially good for pulling large loads, such as carriages and caravans. That is a  fact  .On top of that, they can also make quite amazing riding horses, as although they are smaller than the average draft horse, they can still handle heavier riders.

As far as colors go, Gypsy Vanner horses come in virtually any color variation you can imagine, which also includes solid coats.

However, keep in mind that, for the most part, you will find Gypsy Vanner horses sporting the following coats, simply because of how popular they are:

  • Tobiano – The typical Tobiano horse has  white spots  on a dark colored coat, which in itself makes the horses stand out from the crowd.
  • Skewbald: Once again, you will find white spots spread throughout the base coat of the skew horse, but keep in mind that this cannot happen with black base color horses.
  • Blagdon: Last but not least we have these horses that are known for having a hint of white on their bellies and a darker colored base coat.
Gypsy Vanner Look
Gypsy Gold Horse Farm /

Because this is not a colored breed, the breed registry will pretty much accept any horse regardless of what color or coat pattern it has.

But with that being said, what can we say about the Gypsy Vanner horse that we can’t say about most other breeds out there?

Well, for starters, these horses are known for their heavy, unique plumage that can be seen from their knees to their hocks.

They also have a  very long, soft mane  and tail combination that is highly sought after especially for shows.

This hair can be an advantage to you if you want to participate in shows or it can be a great detriment if you cannot afford to groom your horse daily.

Therefore, we must remind you that although this is a beautiful breed known for its calm nature and easy training, if you do not have time to attend to its needs, you should skip it.

Gypsy Vanner Horses:  breeding and uses

Friesian-Gypsy Vanner Crossbreed

Although they were originally bred to pull caravans, the Gypsy Vanner breed has also more than earned its presence in other niches over the years.

However, that doesn’t mean it has lost its capabilities as a workhorse, as it is still more than perfect for the job.

But aside from that, Gypsy Vanner horses have made a name for themselves in shows and driving competitions, making them one of the best breeds if you’re still not sure what you want to do with them.

That’s not all, the Gypsy Vanner can also be a great riding horse that will never let you down thanks to its incredibly relaxed temperament.

Due to their calm nature, this breed has been ridden by Western and English riders, and they have been used professionally in both dressage and trail riding many times over the years.

Their calmness has also made them a great family horse, so if you have children at home and want to invest in a nice, calm pet horse, this may be the best option for you.

They have even been shown to make excellent therapeutic horseback riding companions, so if you’re feeling down, get on your horse and start chasing your troubles away.

The diet and nutrition of the Gypsy Vanner breed

Gypsy Vanner Breed

Lake Ridge Gypsy Vanner Horses /

Since the Gypsy Vanner breed is a slightly smaller and lighter riding horse, you should expect it to also have a slower metabolism that you will need to adapt to.

Therefore, you can’t just feed your horse whatever you want because he can easily get too fat and become obese.

We understand that obese pets are very popular these days, but please keep in mind that we consider this animal abuse, so never intentionally allow your horse to grow too big for its own good.

But anyway, if you want to invest in a Gypsy Vanner horse, what should you expect his diet to be? Well, for starters, you’ll need to make sure the foods they eat are high in fat and low in sugar.

So, while your horse can definitely survive on a healthy amount of high-quality hay and a balanced ration, you should never offer him the typical feed concentrate because it will do him no good.

You may also need to prevent them from overfeeding, so when you go out for a morning ride and see an open field, we recommend putting a grazing muzzle on your horse.

This will prevent them from overeating and at the same time ensure that your horse is not too tempted to binge and eat his body weight in green.

Other than that, there are no real supplements you should choose, although we recommend visiting a vet or coming home to make sure everything is okay with your horse’s diet.

Gypsy Vanners:  Common Health and Behavior Problems 

Gypsy Vanners Health Problems
Photo by Henk Monster /

Before we go over these issues, we must say that the word “common” is a bit of an exaggeration, as in all the years we have been caring for Gypsy Vanners we have never had to deal with any of them firsthand.

So, although your horse can contract these diseases, most of them can be prevented by simply keeping track of your horse’s health and making sure it lives in a healthy, sanitary environment.

That being said, these are the most common health problems your horse may have:

  • Scratches – These are crusty crabs that can be seen running along your horse’s legs and can easily cause swelling and lameness in the lower legs.
  • Malleanders and Sallenders – This occurs when your horse’s body produces keratin. The reason this is more common in this breed is the fact that it is already predisposed to produce much more keratin than usual to fuel the growth of the breed’s thick plumage. This can easily lead to thick, crusty growths on the legs that need to be removed as soon as possible or else they can lead to bacterial or fungal infections.
  • Chronic progressive lymphedema: This is a very serious condition that causes swelling in the lower leg to the point where the horse can no longer even walk. There is no known cure for this and as soon as your horse contracts this, his legs will continue to swell indefinitely.

So while we personally haven’t had any problems with the Gypsy Vanner breed, we can still say that it is far from the hardiest breed of horse you will ever meet.

Grooming Tips and Tricks for Gypsy Vanners

Gypsy Vanners Grooming
Gypsy-Fever Farms /

As mentioned above, one of the most arduous parts of owning a Gypsy Vanner horse is the fact that you will have to groom him daily to keep him healthy and comfortable at the same time.

Those long manes and tails that probably caught your attention in the first place will require you to make sure they are properly maintained, especially if you live in a muddier area.

Many Gypsy Vanner owners tend to braid their manes to ensure that they are clean and do not need too much grooming and cleaning at the end of each day.

The same can be done with the tails, although we recommend that you do not completely inhibit their ability to scare away flies because that is their only real defense mechanism against swarms.

Detangling will also take a lot of time and effort as you will need to detangle and brush them from time to time to keep them groomed.

But don’t take this the wrong way, we understand that not everyone has time to groom their horse daily.

At the same time, you shouldn’t make this a chore, enjoy the grooming process, bond with your horse, give him treats, and pet him all the time.

After all, these are the times when you should strengthen the friendship between you and your four-legged friend.

You can also take advantage of these moments to monitor your horse’s health. Therefore, keep a close eye on the bottom of your horse’s legs, as any type of cut can be fatal to him and his career as a rider.

Should you get a Gypsy Vanner horse?

Should You Get a Gypsy Vanner Horse
Stormgypsy Vanners /

Well, when it comes to Gypsy Vanner, you need to keep in mind both the positive and negative aspects that come with the service.

So, as is common with any breed out there, there are some pros and cons that you should consider before making your purchase.

As far as the advantages go, there is the fact that they are a very docile breed of horse, they are very easy to train and are much more likely to flee the scene rather than cause a ruckus themselves.

They are  very beautiful creatures  that we never get tired of seeing on our farm, but at the same time we take into account the following disadvantages.

For one thing, this is not the easiest horse to care for. Due to their small size and slow metabolism, it should come as no surprise that these horses are too difficult for many people to handle.

His diet, on the one hand, is not the cheapest to obtain and, furthermore, the care will never stop, so you will have to constantly care for your horse as often as possible.

But having said that, another advantage that we must mention here is the fact that Gypsy Vanner horses are perfectly suitable for families in which there are both experienced and inexperienced riders.

They can be used for both pleasure and competition and are also exceptional animals to have on the farm if you need them to pull carts from one place to another.

Last but not least, we must mention its small size and how this can be a big advantage for you, especially if you are shorter and do not want to strain when mounting the hose.

So, take all these positives and negatives and try to see if you can work with them. If the negatives are too much for you, so be it, opt for a different breed of horse. If you think you are more than qualified to take on this task, go for it, we assure you you won’t regret it.

The Average Cost of Gypsy Vanner Horses

Gypsy Vanner Horses Cost
Photo by Mary E. Graybeal /

Due to its growing popularity, it should come as no surprise that the Gypsy Vanner breed has already made its way onto many people’s Christmas lists.

But if you want to get one, how much should you expect to pay for one? Well, for the most part you should know that it is a lot.

It usually costs around $10,000 minimum, although you can rescue a horse from time to time, just keep in mind that those horses are generally not good for shows.

They are still amazing horses that deserve a home, don’t get us wrong, but don’t expect to save on those expenses by looking for a rescue horse.


Gypsy Vanner Horses

Gypsy Gold Horse Farm /

The Gypsy Vanner horse breed may not be the oldest breed out there, but damn, it’s here to stay, so if you want to get a great all-purpose horse, definitely consider opting for a Gypsy next time you have the opportunity. .

Gypsy Vanner Horses Pin

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