There are also a bunch of images of her on Instagram.
I’m thankful to have had a wonderful, magical horse like Chroicoragh, and will cherish every memory. I have finished my degree, and since I will be working full time along with some other changes, I have decided to let someone else enjoy the privilege of having a unicorn in their own back yard!
She is registered, healthy, sound, and open if you wish to breed her. She is an excellent broodmare and broke to ride.
A lot has been going on. I have been taking 17 credit hours this semester, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve worked so hard and been so happy in that work. I’m telling you right now: If you’ve been in a slump, or maybe want to advance in your career but lack of a degree is holding you back; GO TO SCHOOL, even if it’s just one class at a time.
There’s nothing that will revive you more than feeding your brain. It’s the perfect time in the economy, too. Things are starting to bounce back, but it’s slow going and business is still slow enough that if you wanted to, you could squeeze in a morning or evening class. Some of them are scheduled to only meet once a week, if that’s all you can commit. There are loads of scholarships available, and enrollment is down, so they WANT you to go to school.
But assuming you can afford one class per semester – maybe two – what would you take? What has always piqued your interest? Ancient Egypt? Art History 101- Prehistoric to the Gothic, or World History to 1500.
What have you always wondered more about? How to really use Excel, so you can go up a paygrade at work? CIS 105 or Excel Level I.
Or, have you always wondered why rocks look like this? Take Geology 101! I liked it so much I took 102 as well.
Why don’t you do something for you? You’ve always wanted to try painting. Remember how much you loved watching Bob Ross? I recommend taking Color Theory first. It’s been a challenge, but a good one!
Think about it.
Besides school, we’ve had a few birthdays
and lost our two best friends :(
Butter (aka Best Dog in the World) was 13, and Pepper (2nd Best Dog in the World) was 12. They passed away within a month of each other.
Our new girl, Juniper, was a birthday surprise, and missed meeting Pepper by two days, but kept Butter company for the last month. She’s adorable, and smart, and keeps us all on our toes.
The horses have gotten hairy. They got a post-Halloween treat.
Keira is still for sale. It’s strange, I think she must be waiting for the perfect home. I’ve had several people interested in her, and a few offers, but they all fell through for various reasons. All she needs is time and attention. She’s super smart and sweet, and responds well to training (see video on her page). I’m so surprised she hasn’t sold yet, because she’s pretty close to perfect. But that’s just my opinion ;)
I gave my first class lecture
and we’ve had some rain.
Coming up, I’ve got a post on a popular author, a round-up of my projects for the semester, an out-of-town writing conference (so exciting!), and after Christmas, I get to go visit my family. Please continue to keep my sister-in-law and our parents in your thoughts. This is our first holiday without John, and he is greatly missed.
Here and now, it’s holiday time in the desert, cool and crisp in the morning, sunny in the afternoon.
I’m thankful for it all – my family, our health & home, the opportunities we have.
And to you, for taking the time to visit.
If you’d like to do more online browsing, please stop by my friends’ sites:
Taking pictures of horses: Hard. (Because they never stand still)
Taking pictures of yourself: Hard. (Because your arms are too short and you haven’t quite perfected the social media self-portrait that most teen girls can do in their sleep nowadays, and you are a big middle-aged dork.)
Taking pictures of yourself AND your horses? Well now that’s just downright comical. I kept laughing because they stick their big noses in the way. (my horses are just as dorky as I am)
wordpress, in all their wisdom has done another update, and I haven’t figured out how to fix this photo gallery. hang in there. I’ll get it fixed :)
If you have a blog, website, are a newly published author or some other type of quasi-professional needing free publicity, and would like your farm or book or thing featured, please send your website and email address to: wcgypsy(at)me.com or use contact form below. You will be contacted when space becomes available. I am also interested in emerging artists, and would be happy to consider adding a “gallery” category to the blog.
If you have a strong dislike for swearing and brutal honesty, you probably won’t like my site.
Writers: If you have an idea for a guest post, please send me a brief pitch and a link to your blog so I can see what your writing is like. With your post, you will get a link back to your site, social media promotion for the week it is posted and I expect the same from you. We help each other out. wcgypsy(at)me.com Make sure your idea fits in my blog somehow. No religion-themed writing accepted.
Only those with a website or blog will be considered. (If all you have is a Facebook fan page, step up your game and get serious. Facebook is essential for social media, but it does not substitute for your own website. There are tons of free hosting platforms. I recommend WordPress.com or Tumblr. My site is run on a self-hosted WordPress.org platform which I don’t recommend unless you: 1. really know your computer shit, in which case you already know about wordpress.org; or, 2. you are completely crazy, like me.) (Update: I no longer use wordpress.org for this site, but wordpress.com. I use Squarespace for my art portfolio site.)
I do not do paid promotions, I recommend things that I personally like and do not hire out my opinion. Anything and everything on my site that links to another site is either because it is information that I myself find useful; or I am giving credit to a source; or I know the author or business owner PERSONALLY and by talking about their craft, service or linking to their business, I am giving them my personal support.
If you like what you read or would like to thank me for linking to you or talking about you, Please reciprocate by sending people to my site.
(To share a link, right-click on the link, choose “copy” from the drop-down menu, open up a new email message, and in the body of the message, right-click again, choose “paste” from the drop-down menu, and a copy of the link should appear. Then put “Check out this awesome website!” in the subject line, and mail it to as many people as you know. You can also paste the link into your facebook status or tweet about it or PIN ALL THE THINGS!)
Recently, I posted photos of a cart for sale at a local furniture store, and asked readers if they knew anything about it. Now, I kinda still live in this little bubble of “nobody really reads my blog, right?” Even though I get hundreds of hits, I don’t really know who reads it, or if they are all just hits from people looking for random horse pictures, copying them to their tumblr pages, and moving on without reading. I still think it’s just my parents.
So I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email from some dude, telling me that the cart I found is what’s called a “Turkish Gypsy Potter’s Cart.” The message went on to tell me that I had some errors on my “What is a Gypsy Horse” page, about the history of the breed, the different names, etc.
So I was all like, “Who does this guy think he is, telling me my carefully written and researched paper is all wrong?”
Dennis Thompson, that’s who.
Humble pie, anyone?
Yeah, this dude who just sent me an email because he read something I wrote and wanted to comment on it, is probably the biggest expert on Gypsy Horses in the U.S.
Why, you ask?
He brought them here.
Dennis and his late wife, Cindy were on a business trip in England when they came across what would be the first Gypsy Vanner horse, a stallion named Cushti Bok. Read all about their discovery here. After four years, many trips back and forth to England and Wales, meeting the Gypsies and immersing themselves in their culture, Dennis and Cindy brought the first Gypsy Vanners to America, and founded the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. Cushti Bok (meaning “Good Luck” in the Romani language) became the first horse in the registry.
This tale is well documented, and I had read it before. I have always been blown away by their story. Dennis and Cindy’s love for horses, their non-judgmental curiosity of the Roma culture, and their dedication in establishing a new breed registry here in the states – it could be a novel. (Or at least an All Creatures Great and Small type PBS/BBC series. Come on. That idea is gold. Why am I not a TV producer??)
But besides the original tale, I really didn’t know much about the Thompsons. I’m always wanting to know more. Someone recently told me that I have the “inquirer” default – always asking questions. But without questions, how do you get answers?
Over the past few years, looking for lots of answers about Gypsy Horses, I have done so much reading. I find out about the breed: where they came from; proper conformation; stallions; what to do when your horse gets scratches; all sorts of things. And you end up visiting tons and tons of breeder websites. They will show you their stallions, mares, foals, and even show you around the barn sometimes. But for whatever reason, people remove their personality from their business presence on the web. A big disservice to potential clients, if you ask me.
The whole reason you visit the indie bookstore before you go to Barnes & Noble is because you like the store owners, and want to support them. Or your town’s ancient hardware store over Home Depot. When you are buying a horse—a living, breathing piece of inventory, who can actually take on aspects of its owner’s personality—why wouldn’t you want to know more about them?
After perusing a farm’s website, I’m always left wondering, how did you get into horses? Do you train them yourself? Does your whole family get into it? Where do you live? Do you like Star Wars? Tell me about YOU.
This is pretty much the question I posed to Mr. Thompson (okay, maybe not the Star Wars bit), after thanking him for his comment and his offer to help me correct my heinous misinformation. (Yes, it’s HEINOUS! I hate being wrong. If you’d like to read the revised version of my “What is a Gypsy Horse” page, click here.) And he was kind enough to oblige.
Dennis Thompson Interview
Thank you for allowing me to interview you!
Hello Heidi, it is my pleasure. It has been seventeen years since my late wife and I brought the first Gypsy Vanner Horses to North America and people still have many questions about the Vanner breed.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Indiana to a father who was an educator and a mother who owned the first McDonalds in America with a hitching post—yes it was in Indiana Amish country. I was an extreme animal lover as a child with 150 rabbits, pet skunks, snakes, you name it I had it. They called me The Guppy God in grade school because I had 50 aquariums in my home and would take Mason jars of baby Guppies to school to sell for 5 cents each. A pet store that I frequented ask me to work for them when I was a teenager. That store was owned by Ed Lowe, the man who invented Kitty Litter. I would wind up managing his stores and then spent the rest of my adult career in the animal products industry designing products for animals and setting up distribution in the animal products industry world wide. I currently live in Ocala Florida on my farm called Gypsy Gold.
What is the first horse you remember? How did this horse affect you?
Horses have been my passion for my entire life, first the neighbor’s Shetland Ponies, then another neighbor’s paint horse named Lady and then my own American Quarter Horse named Presto Dial, a son of the late, great Johnny Dial.
Did you come from a horse family?
I was the first [in my family] to have a passion for horses and all animals.
How long was it before you were able to have your own horse?
In the fifties, my neighbor had Shetland Ponies he kept in an apple orchard and I had a large Willow tree in my front yard. I would fashion bridles from the willow branches and ride the ponies in the orchard until they made a mad dash for the barn and my reins broke. That happened over and over so the passion was bigger than the pain.
Tell us about YOUR first horse.
Presto, was a very beautiful classic looking Quarter horse. The kind that might be referred to as a foundation Quarter Horse today. The Quarter Horse breed has changed. I hope the Vanner breed does not do the same.
How did you find out about Gypsy Horses?
My late wife and I discovered the Gypsy Vanner Horse . Stimulated by the look of one stallion standing in a farmer’s field in England, we discovered that the horse belonged to a Traveler and that he had a band of mares that looked just like this stallion that he kept hidden. We would spend that day in a Gypsy camp, become the first Americans to ever attend Appleby Horse Fair with the sole intention of understanding Gypsies and their horses. We would trace the genetic history of that stallion through three countries, uncover the unknown vision he was born from, trace that vision back to two stallions that existed soon after World War II (Sonny Mays and The Coal Horse), Identify most of the great stallions and mares that developed over the next 60 years, name the breed and established the first breed registry in the world for a selectively bred horse developed by Gypsies, The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society.
Gypsies are not an inexpensive breed. What about these horses “sold” you on the idea of owning one?
If I say Gypsy horse, the statement about not being expensive is true, if I say Gypsy Vanner Horse the statement is false.
A very high percentage (possibly 80%) of the horses raised by Gypsies (Gypsy horses) are not a breed, they are a type of horse of unknown heritage and often have smooth-legged genetics, like Connemara or Irish Draft.
The Gypsy Vanner Horse or Vanner is a specific looking horse born from a vision to create the perfect caravan horse.
The look is that of a small Shire with more feather, more color and a sweeter head; an average-size horse with a draft horse body.
Hair is an additive or cumulative gene (recessive), so nothing but hairy-legged horses developed the Vanner breed. The Dales Pony in the opinion of Fred Walker (King of the Coloured Horses) was paramount in the breed’s development (not the Fells Pony).
The Dales brought down the size, kept the feather and heavy bone and put the sweet head on them.
Yes, some have Fells Pony in them but those have a lighter body look and are therefore not the breed’s bulls-eye genetic or look.
You can buy a Gypsy horse colt for 100 BPS, a Vanner colt will cost ten to 100 times that.
Horses raised by Gypsies of unknown heritage are called Trade Horses, Export Horses, Knacker Horses or Coloured Riding Horses and are raised as a commodity-based animal for the restaurant business in Belgium, Holland, and France.
All horses raised by Gypsies were called Coloured Horses or Coloured Cobs, nothing else, there was no differentiation between the breed and the type. Gypsy Vanner Horse is the first name in the world to separate the breed from the type, that is why the name Vanner is so important—it holds the breed’s vision and promise.
The best and most expensive horses Gypsies raise (their breed) are hidden.
If you had five dollars you would leave it on the kitchen table. If you had ten thousand dollars you would hide it. The Vanner breed is often hidden, while common horses raised by Gypsies are not.
How/when did you decide to implement a breeding program, and what do you look for in a stallion or broodmare?
I am the first breeder in North America and imported the first two stallions and fourteen mares.I breed for the same vision Gypsies had for their perfect caravan horse or Vanner (a horse suitable to pull a caravan in the English Chambers Dictionary)
Heavy hips, broad chest, short back, heavy flat bone (at the knee) feather that starts at the knee in the front and hock in the back that covers the front of the hooves. (Breed standard)
Do you have a trainer, or do it yourself?
I hire trainers who embrace modern techniques.
Do you attend shows?
I did in the beginning but not anymore. It is very common for horses who win at shows to trace back to the original sixteen horses my late wife Cindy and I brought to America.
What riding or driving disciplines do you prefer? (western, dressage, carriage driving, etc.)
I wrote the mission statement of the GVHS and in that mission it talks about how the perfect caravan horse is suitable for any number of equine disciplines. That was the only thing about the mission I did not have great passion about. To my surprise they are amazingly versatile and can do anything, including jump. I own Breyer and Vogue model, The Gypsy King. He was trained in the art of Dressage by an eighty + time USDA champion, gold medalist and Olympic contender for the Olympics in China for 2008. She called me just before the World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park and said “He’s one of the most extraordinary horses of any breed I have ever ridden in my life”
Quite a statement from a rider of her caliber! Yes, they can do anything.
Do your horses interact with the public?
Igive tours to as many as 100 people per week, those people all interact with the horses.
I coined the phrase “Golden Retriever With Hooves” and they certainly are.
If you would like, one day I will expand on why I believe their temperament is in their feather.
I Would LOVE to hear more about that!
What’s next for your farm?
The process of trying to establish a breed in the age of the Internet is challenging. I would like to create a better way for breeds to maintain the look and temperament (the pure vision) they were born from.
History tells us that breeds change or why would there be two Morgan Horses, why doesn’t the Quarter Horse look the same, why does a German Shepherd walk up hill, the list goes on and on.
I have pondered why and have identified the problem and the solution. I want the Gypsies Vanner Horse to keep its magic forever.
Me too, Dennis. I hope you, and we as members, are able to keep Fred Walker’s dream alive. Thanks so much to you and Cindy for all of your tireless efforts in bringing this special horse to America, and for maintaining the breed standards set by the originators of the breed, the Gypsies.
OK so I guess more than just my parents read my blog. :)
— NEWS! I can now offer a FREE Breeding as part of Keira’s sale! See her page for more info! —
We are currently downsizing our herd—meaning, we are going from two horses to one :) Keira is for sale. I hope to find her a happy, loving, forever home, hopefully one with lots of little girls to pet her and brush her and put ribbons in her hair.
The reasons we are down-sizing are many, but it has nothing to do with WANTING to sell Keira. I love her to pieces, and it will break my heart to see her go. But our horse journey has changed drastically in the past 7 years, since Chroicoragh first trotted into our lives. Back then, we had dreams of building a modest herd, taking them to all-breed shows; entering them in the Parada del Sol and other parades; training them to drive a cart; and eventually have our own breeding stallion and move to a 200-acre farm somewhere and happily live out our days breeding adorable Gypsy Horse babies.
But then the economy took a dump, we came very close to losing our house, like many Americans, and to top it off, we ended up having a very long, expensive, and complicated battle with the school district in regards to my youngest son.
That fight, for the most part, is now done. I will not go into details here and now, but I may at a later date, and hopefully a much more public format. They say the pen is mightier than the sword…and I would LOVE to slay some public school dragons. Anywho…our lives, jobs, and family have gone in a different direction than when we started. And now with our oldest son in college (how is that friggin possible?? I’m not nearly old enough to have a kid in college!), our youngest finally in high school, and with my husband and I looking down the road to our not-too-distant future, some rearranging and simplifying is in order.
And I wish I could say it had nothing to do with finances. We are trying our best to provide our kids with an education that they will not have to be paying for in the form of student loans for the next 30 years. Our oldest is pursuing a degree in International Business with a double minor in Spanish and German. His dream job is to work for Porsche, BMW, or some big fancy car company. (He loves horses, too, as long as they are under the hood!) He will be headed to Germany in the spring to fulfill his study abroad requirement for his degree, and hopes to land an internship at one of the car companies while he’s there. (I know, he’s crazy smart and motivated, neither of which he gets from me)
Since I left my job, my current focus is to finish my book, and then find some sort of career that will help prepare us for our golden years. Now, ideally, this job will be promoting and selling my book and going on international book tours (there’s a little Law of Attraction for you!). But it never hurts to have more than one feather in your cap, so I am preparing myself to either A.) Go back to school and get my degree, or B.) Pursue another career to be named at a later date.
If it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that after 16+ years of being a stay-at-home mom, then 3+ years of schlepping magazines, you are pretty much screwed when it comes to looking for a real job. I have no degree, no skills, no experience; I must be a flipping idiot. How do I even make it through the day?
So, back to the point…what was my point again? We are going through lots of changes around here. But just because we will be a one-horse-herd family, doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped dreaming about my 200-acre Gypsy Horse farm with lots of babies and a beautiful stallion! I mean, going back to my whole LoA thing, when I sell my book, and get back from book tour, I might need to invest my earnings in some real estate, right?
So, let’s just go with it! I’ve just gotten back from my months-long excursion, traveling the world, and signing lots of copies of my book (yes it can happen! here’s my inspiration). I just sold the movie rights to Harvey Weinstein, and I’ve got to invest my big check so Uncle Sam doesn’t take it all.
Time to go stallion shopping!
If I could stock my stable with a dream-boy lineup, this is who I would pick:
(click on stallion’s NAME to go to their home pages)
Umm….yeah, do I even need to say anything about this stallion? I mean I think if Sundance Kid is the Brad Pitt of Gypsy Horses, then Starbuck must be the George Clooney. And I loooves me some George Clooney… :)
♘ ♘ ♘
Here are a few that are new to me, but I could easily fall in love with them.
If I had to guess, I’d say Lucky got his name from the lucky “Gypsy Kiss” on his forehead. A Gypsy Kiss is a small dark spot in the blaze of a white faced horse. Please click on his picture to see more photos on his page.
Phantom Knight, a very unusual colored Silver Dapple stallion owned by Mike Nenni in Florida.
It’s very easy to get distracted by a horse’s color, but if you look beyond that—on each of these wonderful stallions—you will see the best in conformation. A Gypsy Horse breeder will breed first for temperament, next for conformation, hair and the gorgeous coloring is just the icing on the cake.
If you are in the market for stallion service for your mares, or are simply in the market for Gypsy Horse in general, I highly suggest visiting some of these stallions’ homes on the web. RESEARCH. Look at bloodlines, previous foals, and the quality of the farm’s broodmares.
And, finally, my all-time favorite, the AMAZINGLloyds, also owned by Michael Vines:
Lloyds is attributed to be Chroicoragh’s sire. The DNA tests came back “unconfirmed.” Which either means A.) The DNA results were simply incorrect (this has happened before – someone told me that a mare that she bred herself -well, not herself, ha ha – came back with inconclusive DNA results, and have heard other similar stories); or B.) A colt of Lloyds covered Chroicoragh’s dam while out to pasture, which has also happened before. In England and Ireland, it is common to turn out a stallion with a band of broodmares, and let nature take its course. If there are young colts in the bunch who decide to take a turn, they can sometimes impregnate the mare.
Either way, I’m happy with Chroicoragh, I don’t care who her sire is. I’m still convinced it’s Lloyds – she and all of her siblings inherited his gorgeous head – I just see too much resemblance there to think otherwise:
When I saw the filly on the left, I did a double take – I thought it was a photo of Chroicoragh that I hadn’t seen before. Like I said, it doesn’t matter to me if Chroicoragh’s sire is Tony the Tiger, I love her all the same.
Good luck finding YOUR dream horse! I know I left out many many other great stallions, but I only have so much time! These guys are my personal favorites.
Which one is yours? Leave a comment below, I love hearing from you!
You know, I usually refuse to think of myself as getting old, but the changes that have taken place in the world over the years remind me that – well, according to my kids and technology – I’m old.
One such example is the Sears Wish Book. If you grew up in the 1970’s, you probably received a Sears Wish Book every year. And by the time your parents took you to see Santa, that catalog had been flipped through, dog-eared and well worn. You’d gotten a chance to study each and every item in the TOYS section, crossed out the most unnecessary, put stars next to the ultimate must-haves, and had your list ready to go.
“Hey Barbie, get away from my horse. And give me that hat while you’re at it.”
So what do younger kids browse through nowadays? (Nowadays. What a dumb word. I might as well carry a cane and start saying “whippersnapper”) Anyways, what is it – Amazon? Best Buy? Ebay? Etsy?
This whole idea of the Wish Book came to me while I was browsing the internet recently, looking at – what else – horses.
Now, I am not a huge breeder by any means but as a part of the Gypsy Horse community, I do like to keep in touch with other breeders and owners and see who’s doing what with their horses. Stallions get bought and sold and go to new barns, and it’s interesting to see which mares get bred to which stallions, and the foals they produce. There are also plenty of mature horses for sale that are broke to ride or drive and ready to go.
(This collection is my idea alone, and these folks won’t even know I’ve featured their horse until after this is written. I am receiving nothing from this except the pleasure of spreading the word. If you are interested in any of these horses, please contact the owner. Keep in mind this is a very small selection of the many horses available for sale.)
So, let’s take a look at a few, shall we? (read all the way to the end for a surprise)
Gypsy Horse Wish Book!
Dugan, 2007 Black Blagdon stallion.
What a cutie! I am such a sucker for theblagdons, and I love a white face on a horse!
This has been an extremely conservative list but for me to cover all of the horses and breeders out there I’d need another week of browsing…not that that’s something I wouldn’t enjoy, but my laundry is piling up, and the boys are looking at me with those poor hungry faces.
Lord knows they’d die if they ever had to feed themselves.
So if the above links weren’t enough for you, here are a few more to check out:
Another UK breeder, who owned the famous Tumbler stallion