Why "Gypsy Vanner" and not "Gypsy" or "Gypsy Horse"
In the 1990's Gypsies in the UK owned a variety of "coloured" horses. Many of their herds had become recognized as a "type" of horse known as a "cob". This is a term used to describe the body of the horse. No one in the UK saw any of these horses as breed worthy. Most Gypsies had been known for breeding at random and their herds reflected but one common trait - color. Their colored horse herds ranged: there were big ones, little ones, drafty ones, trotters, etc.
However, by the mid 1990's buyers from surrounding countries (Belgium, Holland, Germany, France) had started to show an interest and began purchasing horses. They appeared particularly interested in what the Gypsies themselves had begun to call "the good ones". These horses were not often seen and when they were they caused heads to turn: they had well defined heads that were more refined than a draft, soft eyes; they had an abundance of mane, tail, and feathering and a movement that was magical - they seemed to float when at the trot. Yet, no one had done anything to set these horses apart from their common counterparts. Until........Cindy Thompson's eye caught a little black and white stallion running in a field. (See History section). The Thompsons' study would uncover the selective breeding program of a "few" Gypsy breeders. Their herds were consistently producing "this look" that even the Gypsies called "the good ones". The Thompsons took the necessary steps to establish a registry for this newly recognized breed. They needed a name and with the help of their Gypsy mentor, Fred Walker, known to his Gypsy peers as The King of the Coloured Horses, they settled on a name - Gypsy Vanner Horse.
Mr. Walker had warned that it would be difficult to ONLY import "the good ones" due to his culture's natural inclination for horse trading. Still the Thompsons moved forward establishing the first registry in the world for the Gypsies' selectively bred horses - The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society.
Mr. Walker was right. Since the breed's introduction in 1996 all kinds of Gypsies' colored horses have been imported. Marketing has lead to many names being used to sell horses: Gypsy Cobs, Gypsy Horses, etc. These terms are very appropriate if referring to the general population of colored horses bred by Gypsies. According to Sponenberg and Bixby the idea of "breed" can be very loose or it can be more "restrictive". Loose could be that a group of animals are considered a breed because of their color - these groups have difficulty in "consistently reproducing" themselves. A "more restrictive" group based on identifying a "foundation leading to a type leading to recongized pedigrees that in turn consistently reproduce the desired type" is what most people view as "a breed". The later is what was happening in the few herds identified in the Thompson study and it was this group that was given the name - Gypsy Vanner Horse.
The name Gypsy Vanner Horse is so much more than a name. It is a "marker" for the first time in history a specific group of horses bred by Gypsies was recognized as a definitive breed. Secondly, it is a "brand" for that group of horses; it sets them apart from their common counterparts. With marketing and politics it is becoming more and more confusing for new people to this new horse; also people are breeding outside of the "core genetics" for colors and blending; with this indiscriminate breeding going on we are losing some of the original beauty that first captured everyone's attention. Therefore, I suggest if you want to recapture the "look", "the good ones" that inspired the Vanner name that you start to look at the horses closely. Look at lots of horses and then come back and visit some of the early horses registered with the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. Think about the formula: foundation to type to pedigree to type and know that in those original pedigrees can be found the genetics to take the Gypsy Vanner Horse to the future. The name Gypsy Vanner Horse is so much more than "just a name"; it references the magic, the quality that Fred Walker and his fellow Gypsies treasured.
If you are fortunate enough to own a registered Gypsy Vanner Horse why would you choose to call it anything else but Gypsy Vanner or Vanner Horse? To refer to it by any other name is a devaluation of your personal treasure.