I had an inquiry today about how can small draft ponies be developed under 40″ and maintain abundant feather such as is seen in the presently developed gypsy horses. They tied this question to general draft pony type which is related but somewhat of a different idea. If you search on the internet for American Draft Pony you will find a registry devoted to the idea which has a small following; and most of the people working on that are using welsh and Percheron crosses to get a pony I believe targeted for size around 50″ tall. There is also a farm specializing in Clydesdale ponies, I haven’t looked very hard at that but did note it the other day. If you have time and are interested you can probably find information on the internet.
Coates’ gypsy pony mare half Shetland
This cute grey pony mare is one of the first pictures of “littles” the gypsy folk in Britain shared with me and the world via the internet about three years ago. I remember Amy Coates sharing a set of pictures on the old Harlequin forum describing this nice mare as half Shetland, she did not mention what gypsy horse was the sire. But on the present Coates family sales site there are a couple of smaller horses offered for sale…http://www.gypsyhorses.co.uk/
Now, this pony is an example of good feather quality coming thru on just the first cross (F1). I believe that ponies of British Island foundations are more likely than others to let strong feather traits develop in the first cross to a gypsy horse. You must understand that the gypsy horse itself is developed from a mixture of breeds, none of which usually carry on average as much feather as a “good” gypsy horse is expected to exhibit. For example, the average Fell pony has feather, but certainly not to the extent that the most famous gypsy horses display. Genetically, the feather factor is very complex and my understanding is that there is probably more than one gene driving the expression of the trait. Plus, no doubt there are modifiers that come into play, and the modifiers on genes are less understood than the responsible genes that are not identified as of yet! So, there is a variable way feather gene is expressed and cannot be totally predicted. But like most any trait breeders choose to emphasize, if you keep choosing for that trait, you can bring it more into focus; i.e. breeding the heaviest feathered individuals together for several generations has created the very heavily feathered gypsy horse.
3 year old Haflinger/Gypsy cross
For instance, this is Aladdin, a beautiful son of the gypsy stallion, Lively Leo, and out of a Haflinger mare. Haflingers do not usually express much feather but there are some who have fairly heavy fetlock hair. At any rate, Aladdin has a generous expression of feather for an F1 pony (He is for sale and is of a good riding size at 13.3). Aladdin is owned by Jennifer Rose in California, and her website is http://www.jennerroseranch.webs.com.
I have seen pictures of a welsh cob/gypsy horse cross in Australia or New Zealand I believe, who also has at least as much feather as Aladdin has, possibly more. He looks “pure” gypsy already and is just the F1 as far as breeding effort. Many welsh cobs have quite a bit of feather, similar to Fell/Dales ponies. Shetlands, altho not having usually the “feather” or extended fetlock hair onto the backs of their legs, as expressed on many British ponies, certainly have a hair factor with the thickness or fuzziness established, and I believe this “fuzz” factor lets expression of the feather come thru more than you might expect it to. I have seen pictures of a couple of tiny 27-28″ miniature horses lately that have a much more feather than average for their breed, and this is the kind of pony that can be expected to produce excellent results in the F1 generation. Breeders should strive to make wise choices in breeding stock! Find the traits you want to produce in the animals you start out with!
Mustardseed Legionaires Destiny, 27 inch tall miniature horse stallion
This little cutie is shown at Azarial Miniatures at Meadowind Farm in Pennsylvania. Now, this picture might be deceiving to some because he is being shown in winter time and his greyish color is from being body clipped; he is a black pinto. And I am not trying to say he has any “gypsy” blood at all, he is a registered miniature horse. But they have left the winter heavy leg hair and WOW! does he look like a miniature gypsy horse or what! Just 27 inches of eye appeal. A short legged mini stallion becomes very baroque looking!
The fact is, many of the gypsy breeders in the UK have small stock.