Gypsy Vanner Horses

Gypsy Vanner Horses [facts and history of an amazing horse breed]

Gypsy Vanner Horses are short, stocky, strong horses that have broad chests and powerful muscles. They were bred to pull large heavy loads in Gypsy caravans and stand out with their amazing looks. The Gypsy Vanner breed has a calm and friendly demeanor and they also make great pleasure riding horses.

In this article, we will be explaining everything that horse lovers need to know about the Gypsy Vanner horse breed. 

What Is A Gypsy Vanner Horse
What Is A Gypsy Vanner Horse?

This will include the breed’s rich history, describing their common physical and personality characteristics, and explaining who the Gypsy Vanner Horse is a good choice for. 

Keep reading to learn more about this amazing horse!

What Is A Gypsy Vanner Horse? 

The Gypsy Vanner Horse is also known as the Gypsy Cob, the Irish Cob, the  Gypsy Horse, or simply Cob.  

They are a relatively new recognized horse breed that was created by the Gypsy people in the United Kingdom. 

What Are ‘The Gypsy People’?

Being a “Gypsy” traditionally means being part of a group of people who travel around and don’t really call one place home.

In some places, the term Gypsy is considered to be insulting and they prefer to be called Romani people or Roma. 

Romani people are an ethnic group of wanderers (nomadic people) that are thought to have originated in the northern regions of India. 

Their numbers are estimated to be around 10 to 12 million worldwide.

Gypsy Vanner Traits

Gypsy Vanner Traits
Gypsy Vanner Traits

These beautiful horses are famous for having stunning coats, thick mane, a strong build, excellent endurance, and an amazingly calm and friendly temperament. 

The Gypsy people bred these beautiful horses to be the perfect horse to pull their large and colorful caravans. 

Although the Gypsy Vanner breed was not recognized until the late 20th century, the Gypsy Vanner has an intriguing history. 

Gypsy Vanner History 

The exact origins of the Gypsy Vanner horse breed are somewhat unknown. However, we do know that this horse line was created by the Gypsies of Great Britain. 

Gypsy Vanner Traits
Gypsy Vanner Traits

This horse breed’s original purpose was to pull the colorful and heavy Gypsy caravans with ease. As a result, these horses are known for their strong and draft horse-like body types. 

Although we do not know the exact genetic origins of the breed, there are a couple of horses that are believed to be responsible for creating this breed through selective breeding. 

See more detail on these two Gypsy Vanner foundation horses below in the related questions section.

Gypsy Vanner Characteristics

It is believed that Gypsies have used Shires and Clydesdales for their strength and general power. 

It is also thought that they then mixed these lines in with the Native Dales pony of Great Britain which resulted in the Gypsy Vanners’ shorter size. 

Gypsy Vanner Characteristics
Gypsy Vanner Characteristics

Gypsy Vanner Size Classifications

There are three main size classifications for the Gypsy Vanner horse breed.

  • Mini Vanner (13.2 hands tall or shorter)
  • Classic Vanner (13.3 to 15 hands tall)
  • Grand Vanner (15.1 hands tall or taller) 

Although this horse breed has origins that go farther back than the late 1990s, this was around the time when they were officially named and recognized. 

This is also when the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society was established by Dennis and Cindy Thompson. Their main goal was to create and help uphold the Gypsy Vanner breed standard. 

The first Gypsy Vanner horses were brought to North America in 1996. 

Gypsy Vanner Appearance

The Gypsy Vanner is a horse that has an appearance that is as unique as it is beautiful. 

They have a short, sturdy, muscular body type, and a unique and stunning coat. 

Gypsy Vanner Coat Colors

The Gypsy Vanner is well known for its luxurious and long flowing manes, tales, and feathers on its lower legs. 

As for coat colors and markings, there are no restrictions in their official breed standard. 

This means that a Gypsy Vanner could technically have any coat colors or markings and still be considered a part of the Gypsy Vanner breed. 

Common Gypsy Vanner Coat Patterns Include:

  • Skewbald (white patches or splashes)
  • Tabiano
  • Blagdon
  • Solid Color 

Gypsy Vanner Size

The Gypsy Vanner is a relatively short and stocky horse. They are typically about 13 to 16 hands tall in height. 

Gypsy Vanner Size
Gypsy Vanner Size

Don’t let their smaller stature fool you though. These horses are still incredibly strong and capable when it comes to pulling caravans and carriages. 

Gypsy Vanner Body Type

Vanners have a broad body and a strong build that allows them to pull heavy loads. They tend to have a strong chest and short muscular legs. 

Is the Gypsy Vanner a Draft Horse?

While the Gypsy Vanner does have a body type that looks similar to that of a draft horse, they are not. They also tend to be shorter in height than draft horse breeds. 

Gypsy Vanner Temperament 

The Gypsy Vanner is famous for its solid, calm, and friendly temperaments. This special horse is also known to be easy to train as well, making them a great choice for novice horse owners and handlers. 

Gypsy Vanner Temperament
Gypsy Vanner Temperament

Due to their amazing temperaments and personalities, these horses make excellent riding horses for children and those with disabilities. 

The Gypsy Vanner is a great choice for a therapy horse and as just a family horse. 

Gypsy Vanner Diet Requirements 

Many people may be surprised to discover that the Gypsy Vanner horse actually has some pretty special diet and exercise needs. This is because they tend to easily put on weight.

The Gypsy Vanner Horse is more at risk of gaining an unhealthy amount of weight than some other horse breeds. This is because they have different metabolic needs than some more slim and slender horse breeds. 

Experienced Vanner horse owners claim that these little stallions do best on a high fat and low sugar diet. 

A high-quality hay with a ration balancer should do great to keep the Gypsy Vanner at an ideal and healthy weight. 

In addition to this, some put a grazing muzzle on their Gypsy Vanner during the summers when there is an abundant amount of grass. 

Gypsy Vanner Exercise Requirements  

It is important to remember that these horses were originally bred to pull heavy wagons. In fact, their heavy bones and sturdy bodies make the Gypsy Vanners ideal horses for these kinds of activities. 

Although most people do not necessarily have their Gypsy Vanner pull heavy loads on a regular basis, it is still important that you provide your horse with enough exercise to stay at a healthy weight. 

Gypsy Vanner Grooming Requirements

Remember when we mentioned that Gypsy Vanner horses have luxurious manes, tails, and feathers on their lower legs? 

Well, these double manes and long hair leads to Vanner owners needing to do more grooming on a daily basis than the owners of some other horse breeds. 

The areas of long hair can easily become tangled or matted if not groomed properly on a regular basis. 

As a result, the owners of Gypsy Vanner horses will have to spend more time grooming their horses every day than some other horse breed owners will need to. 

Gypsy Vanner Health Issues 

Like with any horse breed, there are some health conditions that are somewhat prevalent in the Gypsy Vanner breed that owners and prospective owners should be aware of. 

The most common Gypsy Vanner medical conditions mostly include:

  • Scratches
  • Chronic Progressive Lymphedema
  • Malleanders
  • Sallenders 


Scratches are a scab that can develop on a horse’s legs. Although they are a relatively common ailment in horses, they can become painful or very uncomfortable to the horse if left untreated. 

It could even cause limping, swelling, and even lameness in horses if not treated. 

Chronic Progressive Lymphedema 

This is a condition that is genetically passed down in horses, and it causes a thickening of the skin and a build-up of lymph fluid in the legs. 

Although there is no cure for this condition at this time, it will still need to be treated throughout the horse’s life. 

The best way to avoid this condition in horses is to purchase foals from reputable horse breeders. 

Mallenders and Sallenders

This is another condition that is relatively common in the Gypsy Vanner horse breed that is passed down genetically. 

These conditions are caused when a horse’s body produces too much keratin. This is common in Gypsy Vanners because this is what creates their beautiful leg feathers. 

The bad part of these conditions is that they can cause growths on the legs that can cause bacterial or fungal infections if not removed in a timely manner. 

What Type of Person is a Gypsy Vanner a Good Fit For? 

This can be a great horse for many different people. However, the Gypsy Vanner may not be the best choice of horse for everyone out there. 

Here we will be going over some of the pros and cons of owning a Gypsy Vanner horse that every prospective Gypsy Vanner horse owner should be aware of. 

Gypsy Vanner Pros

They Have an Easy Going Temperament

The main benefit is possibly the meat thing about the Gypsy Vanner horse. These horses are famous for their easy-going, calm, and friendly temperaments and personalities. 

This makes the Gypsy Vanner a great horse for families, those with disabilities, and novice horse owners and handlers in general. 

They Are Easy to Train 

In addition to being friendly horses with a famously calm and easy-going temperament, the Gypsy Vanner is also known to be pretty easy to train. 

Again, this makes these horses great for beginner or novice horse owners and handlers. 

They Are a Relatively Healthy Breed 

Although there are some medical conditions that you should be aware of in the Gypsy Vanner horse breed, they are relatively healthy horses on average. 

Gypsy Vanner Cons

Need To Watch Their Diet

It is important to remember that Gypsy Vanner horses are more at risk for gaining weight when not given a proper diet. 

As a result, you may need to feed your Gypsy Vanner a special diet and keep an eye on their portion intake. 

Require Extensive Grooming

The Gypsy Vanner horses have long tails, a luxurious double mane, and fluffy feathers. All of these features require more extensive grooming than some other horse breeds on a daily basis. 

Although doing things like braiding your Gypsy Vanner’s mane and tail and putting their tails in mud knots can help, they still require extensive daily grooming that some may not be ready for. 

They Can Be Expensive to Purchase

How Much Does a Gypsy Vanner Cost?

The average price for a Gypsy Vanner from a reputable horse breeder in the United States ranges from $4,000 and $30,000. 

The price generally depends on the horse’s age, health, and quality. Of course, the healthier the horse is and the better quality they are the more expensive they will cost. 

Foals and young Gypsy Vanner horses tend to cost less money than adult Gypsy Vanners. 

In Summary

The Gypsy Vanner is great for those who are looking for an easy-going horse that is pretty easy to train and is a relatively healthy breed. 

However, they will also need to be willing to keep an eye on their horse’s diet and extensively groom them on a daily basis. 

Related Questions

Why is the Gypsy Vanner Famous for its Leg Feathering?

Feathering on a horse is usually described as a large amount of long hair on its front and rear legs. 

The Gypsy Vanner has a unique amount of abundant feathering on its legs, producing an amazing look that is very eye-catching.

Who is Sonny Mays and Coal Horse?

Dennis Thompson, one of the people credited with bringing the Gypsy Vanner breed to the United States, says that all Gypsy Vanner horses have a little bit of Sonny Mays and Coal Horse in them.

He identified Sonny Mays and Coal Horse as being the two foundation stallions for the breed that every current Gypsy Vanner can trace their roots back to. 

What Does ‘Vanner’ Mean?

The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society states the Gypsy Vanner was bred by the Gypsy people to pull the caraVAN. Hence the name.

What is a Gypsy Horse Drawn Caravan?

Typically, a horse caravan is a rather large, decorative wagon that is pulled by a horse.

Traditionally, this type of horse wagon or caravan has been associated with the Gypsy population (Romani people) in Great Britain.

Gypsy Horse Drawn Caravan
Gypsy Horse Drawn Caravan

These caravans are spectacular looking with all their decorations and many are big enough to live in.


The Gypsy Vanner is a beautiful horse that is famous for its calm and friendly temperament, its stunning long flowing manes, tails, and feathers on its legs.

Although this Romany horse was originally bred to be the perfect caravan horse they are also a great choice of horse breed for the average, modern horse owner. 

In fact, they are a particularly good choice for those who are new to handling horses and horse ownership. 

You can learn more about the incredible Gypsy Vanner horse at the Gypsy Horse Association website.

Gypsy Vanner Horses

Similar Posts