Radio interview source: Mary Graybeal, President, Gypsy Horse Association
Listen here to the radio story (mp3) or read below
Gypsies traveled the roads of Europe for hundreds of years in beautifully decorated wagons. This required calm horses with enough endurance to pull those wagons and the ability to graze on nearly anything. The Gypsies developed the breed we know today as the Gypsy Horse.
Mary Graybeal is the president of the Gypsy Horse Association. She says they are originally descended from several draft horse and draft pony breeds. They are small of stature, typically standing between 13- and-15 hands, with a stocky, sturdy build. "A short back is preferred, a somewhat shorter neck, and the horses also have a hock set that is kind of unique," Graybeal says. "The Gypsy's hock set is not quite as extreme as the Shire or the Clyde, but it does have a slight inward turn back there. That's really one of the things that defines it most from other breeds."
The Gypsy horse has a lavish mane and tail, and the feathers, which are the hairs growing from the knees down over the hooves, is abundant.
Graybeal says the Gypsy's personality is perfect for kids and families. It's docile and not easily spooked. Because of its sturdy build, it's also a strong work-horse, able to handle most chores. "I have seen people doing barrel racing with them, herding cattle, carriage driving, jumping; I have one actually who enjoys jumping. They can do a lot of things well, and there's a lot of variability in the breed too, so you see horses with different skills."
You have to be careful not to overfeed them, because they don't require a lot of rich food. They are also prone to fungus and mites under the feathers on their legs.
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