How the Gypsy Vanner Horse Came to America

If you have ever seen a Gypsy Vanner Horse or even just an image of one, you will know just how beautiful these enigmatic horses are. Their long flowing manes and feathered feet add to the appeal, and they are a popular choice for equine photography and calendars.

Gypsy Vanner Horse

The Gypsy Vanner Horse, from Britain, was only established and registered quite recently (in 1994), thanks to the efforts of a couple from Florida. Dennis and Cindy Thompson were on a business trip in England in 1995, when Cindy saw a captivating Stallion standing in a pasture. He was a striking mix of black and white color, flowing hair, rather small and built like a draft horse. Cindy was captivated and tracked down the farmer to enquire about the horse.

Cindy discovered that the horse belonged to a traveler and soon made contact with him. Listening to the man’s stories, only peaked Cindy’s curiosity. A four-year long investigation began, including choosing a name for the unknown breed, investigating their history and origins. With the British Gypsy Breeders, they picked the name Gypsy Vanner, Gypsy in honor of the people and Vanner – “a horse suitable to pull a caravan.”

Up until the second world war, the caravan pulling horses were not a breed, it was only after the war that the vision for the breeding of the vanner horse was born. While Gypsy caravans are found throughout Europe, the British Gypsies were notorious for having the most elaborate and beautifully decorated caravans. They were moving pieces of art, so it followed that they required an equally mesmerizing horse to go with it.

The Thompson’s went on to establish the world’s first registry for a selectively bred horse developed by the Gypsies. In 1998 the Gypsy Vanner Horses made their first appearance at Equitana USA as a prequel to the Breeds Introduction in 1999.

The Thompsons imported the first 16 Gypsy Vanner Horses to the USA. They established a stud in Oscala, Florida, which is still going strong to this day.