Freakin’ Friday

gypsy vanner miniature horse irish cob

Cold air in September makes me think of winter....

Well, today’s discussion has turned into rather a rant, inspired by outside discussion.  In presenting my plans and goals for creating the mini gypsy to others, I often encounter opposition to the idea, mostly by people whose opinion it is that I am trying to do some kind of harm to the current gypsy horse market or the breed as a whole; as well as thoughts that now is a hell of a time to be producing “extra” horses into the world when there are so many needing homes.  And I cannot deny that all of those things are worth discussing , yet I cannot give up my dreams because the politics of the world has changed so much in the last few years.  My prediction is that within a few years people will start to notice fewer and fewer ponies across the nation that are available, as so few people are continuing to raise ponies aside from miniature horses, at all.  Between the horse and general market crash in the recent past, and pony breeders simply getting old and closing business, and fewer and fewer people having barnyard areas, small lots and pastures to keep a few ponies; good old grade ponies like I grew up riding are going to be quite scarse in ten years.

Someone compared my efforts with the negative effects already present in the “genetic baseline” whatever that means, in the welsh…now if you had stated Shetland Ponies, I would have went, YEAH too weird how that happened through the years of the 20th century, they have basicly disappeared in the USA from what the native stock is. I don’t see that so much in the welsh, I think most welsh are fairly identifiable with their native counterparts. Now isn’t it better to go at it from the beginning, forming a breed from the breed traits (all kinds of horses have gone into making the gypsy horse, they are NOT a purebred by any means). I have only been making my effort for five years and I’m already using my 4th gypsy stallion from imported stock, or direct imports, always seeking to use what I believe I well understand are desired traits that create the look of a gypsy cob.  I just don’t get why people think my development of a separate facet of the “LOOK” will in any way affect the group of horses who are currently registered as “purebred” gypsy horses.  I have witnessed no inclination on the part of the present registries (four registries are already established to handle the squabbling among the people who have imported the gypsy horses to the US), and no doubt, people will import more littles at some point and apparently they will be eligible for inclusiion in the “purebred” registries because they come from gypsy breeders, not because they are in any way guaranteed to be a “PUREBRED”.   But those who are imported are likely the best TYPE phenotypically, they look like what people have come to believe a gypsy horse should look like.

You might consider that there are more than one “purebred” horse or pony studbook still with open sections to them for breeders who are seeking traits they want to add in, and that this was still common 50 years ago in practically all the registries. If you study genetics at all you find that it is beneficial to the cell to have MORE genetic diversity vs. less (this fact was started to be promoted among scientists about 20 years ago, after most of the registries “closed” to outside horses), but most people are sold on the value of the pure blood, not the best quality animal overall.  In my opinion, the individual should always be more important than the group, when choosing to improve traits. 

 As to registration of a mini gypsy from me, that is yet to develop as far as others joining in and creating an organization that will support such a thing. I am not worried about that at all; in the meantime, if people choose to they CAN use partbred registration in most of the current gypsy horse registries; furthermore, there are other choices as well according to how buyers ever go on to train and use their mini gypsy….it’s wide open opportunity from my view.


About minigypsy1

Farmer's daughter raising 6th generation children on Block Farm in west central Illinois. Breeder of Australian Shepherd dogs for 30 years now, applying lifetime knowledge to establishing a new breed of pony, the miniature gypsy horse.
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5 Responses to Freakin’ Friday

  1. Heavy ponies may also find a demand with those who want a working pony that isn’t as big as the Haflingers and draft horses. There is little criticism of those breeding sport horses (often crossbred). To me breeding is with a goal – not just producing offspring but selecting and working towards a goal. That may be 3 day, it may be registered horses, it may be work horses but it’s with a specific thing in mind.

  2. Tami Mulder says:

    You are correct. I’m nearly 53 years old and ponies were easy to find when I was a kid. Nearly any kid wanting a pony, had one. When I started a family, finding a pony for my kids was harder. The old fashioned, short, stout Shetland was harder to find than hen’s teeth, replaced by the “American” Shetland influenced with Hackney blood. When my grand children started arriving, there is nearly no such thing here in the U.S. Draft ponies are also in short supply. Haflingers are being bred more and more towards sport horses (horses, not ponies) and getting farther and farther away from a smaller “cob”. I, myself, have just been looking for anything in the 13.2h range and DID find plenty of POA’s around. (Hmm…loud POA bred to Gypsy? that’s a curious idea). I was involved with Rocky Mountains some years ago when they closed the books on them with a VERY limited number…..and oh! the genetic problems they are having! And just WHO wanted the stud books close? The original breeders who were charging the most for stock….and getting it. They wanted to control the breed as well. It all come down to $$ out of their pockets with more and more breeders joining the ranks of breeders and sales. And THAT! is what I can see may be going on with Gypsy horses. We all know if they are worried about contaminating the blood of Gypsies, it is rather easy to eliminate the shorter gypsies and refrain from adding any of the crosses into their herd, it’s that simple. No, they aren’t concerned about the genetics, they are concerned about loosing sales to others and what others offer, and they do not. That is always the issue with “new” or “rare” stock, no matter what it is, horses, dogs or what have you ….. so my advice to you, for what it’s worth, is YOU GO GIRL!

  3. minigypsy1 says:

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses to this discussion. For us oddball pony lovers of that intermediate size, we need all the support we can get! I hope to continue to provide interesting discussion in this process, and welcome inquiries or questions.

  4. Crystal Headrick says:

    I very much agree with what you’re saying. I was just telling my husband last night that I think a Gypsy pony would be any little girl’s dream. From what I have seen though, parents are putting their children on larger horses. My son will start on a pony and only upgrade when he outgrows the pony. Learning to ride may involve falling and it kills me to see a four year old on even a 14h horse. It may be “dead broke,” but things happen. If something was to happen and my boy was to fall, I would much rather it be two feet to the ground rather than four.
    Anyways, we have been looking for a pony that we would accept breeding a Gypsy to and it’s been next to impossible. The Shetlands have the dished face that I’m trying to avoid. A lot of ponies being sold are just old and I wouldn’t feel right to breed something at that age. Some just have weird conformation. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack for sure,

    • minigypsy1 says:

      When I first decided to pursue my goal of downsizing the gypsy horse (before I found out that several of the Rom in Britain were already making such efforts) I worried about the fact that USA turns everything into a show animal for adults, not a using animal for families such as the Rom have done so well in maintaining, the unbelievably good temperament of these equines. That is the most important thing to consider overall. Everything else is a by-product of not demanding that all breeding stock is quiet and sensible. “Deadheads” should be appreciated over animated horses. The other things we cannot worry about so much, especially since as you say, ponies tend to have more “arab” heads vs the Clyde and Shire style head. It’s not impossible to bring down the more horsey head, it’s just that you’re probably not going to see it happen, especially since miniature horse breeders in USA have concentrated so much on the dishy “arab” style heads. But let’s continue to be vocal about temperament foremost, for all the good it will do us in the end! Because the show crowd will always choose for an animated animal when they cannot have perfect specimen otherwise, it simply catches the judge’s attention more. That is the real downfall of basing breeding decisions on a show system. Most people do not have a vision of what makes the best breeding choice and rely on judge’s and peer input to make their decisions (and this is IF they stay in the business over five years!). Not only arab type influence, but hackney is what I worried about as well, because that is currently affecting the mini horse show bloodlines to a great extent, looking for better movement and animation. And we know there are “Steppers” developed by the Rom as well, which has to have some hackney influence in there somewhere. I know there is verified high stepping Dales in the gypsy horse makeup, but my eyes see a little hackney sometimes as well. I appreciate some welsh pony influence obviously, I think that correct welsh type is very pretty; I feel that my current stallion, The Executive, has a lot of welsh pony behind him. Breeding is a process and we just have to be vocal about what is breed type. That is why I was thrilled that someone decided to step in and maintain “Lex” as a show stallion; he certainly brings the draft style down to pony size; I hope that he continues to be valuable in the development of the miniature gypsy horse; and of course he will if I have the stamina to stick with my dream.

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