top of page

History and Development

I have always admired the Gypsy Vanner Horses and when I heard there were miniature gypsy horses I was thrilled.  Being curious I started searching the internet for information and history of these beautiful horses.  I wanted to know the history behind them and how the breed was started, full size and miniature size.    Here is what I found and hope this is interesting to you also.


History and Development:

The Romanichals in Europe had beautiful decorated vardoes and caravans and they traveled all through the country sides of Europe.  To pull their living wagons they started breeding the first Gypsy Horses in 1850.  They trained and bred these horses to have the strength and endurance to pull their wagons.  They also needed a horse that would be calm grazing on the side of the roads and would not panic since this would cause damage to their living wagons.

These Gypsy Horses were tall around 15 hands and they wanted a smaller horse but still wanted the feathering they had developed in their horses.  The breeders decided to use Section D Welsh Cobs and this would also give them a higher leg action they wanted in a pulling horse.  The Dales Pony and sometimes the Fell Pony were used for interbreeding with the Clydesdale and Shire horses.   These offspring is what created the Gypsy Horse.  In the 1990”s the average height of this breed was 15 hands and the breeders wanted to reduce the size to be around 14 to 14.3 hands.  This was so much more economical to raise a smaller horse and thus the Dales Pony and Fell Ponies were introduced to the breeding. 

In 1997 the first Gypsy Horse was bought and by Dennis and Cindy Thompson and brought to North America.  They had the opportunity to discover and introduce this beautiful type of horse to the world and establish as a recognized breed. Their journey would include not only bringing them to America but choosing a name for the unknown breed.  The choices were between Romany Horse and Gypsy Vanner Horse.   With the blessing from the dedicated British Gypsy Breeder the name Gypsy Vanner Horse was chosen.  On November 24, 1995 the Thompson’s established the world’s first registry for a selective bred horse developed by the British Gypsies.

I found out through information listed that the primary breeds that went into the Gypsy Vanner Horse are the Shire, Clydesdale and Dales Pony.  All this was done through the genetic association which also said the Friesian was involved in the development.  In the British Gypsies they were not a breed they were listed as unknown heritage.  These type of horses were called “trade horses”, “export horses”, “knacker horses” or just as “colored riding horses”.  The beginning heritage of these horses were smooth legged genetics and were raised in Belgium, Holland and France.

Now with some history of the Gypsy Vanner Horses let us look at the Miniature Gypsy Horse.   In the UK some of the name they use for the very smaller version of the Gypsy Vanner Horse are “Gypsy Cob”,  “Pony”, or “Tinker”.  Here in the USA we call them “Miniature Gypsy Horse”.  Just like the bigger version of the Gypsy Vanner Horse was created by the Romant Folk in the UK.  There are many examples of this in England at the Apple Fair every year.  Many of these beautiful smaller versions are bought and brought to the United States to help create the Mini Gypsy Horse breed.  Listed here is what we as breeders need to keep to as the development of the Mini Gypsy Horse continues…


The Mini Gypsy Horse should look like a Gypsy Vanner in miniature form.


Small draft type horse with strong legs, short back and a powerful horse in a very small package 11 hands and under.


Driving should be first, Liberty, Halter, In-hand Hunter, Western Trail and Jumping.

Different types of the breed:  Gypsy Vanner, Gypsy Cob, Miniature Horse, Falabella Horse, Dartmoor Pony, Fell Pony, Dale Pony and the Shetland Pony have had a hand in the making of this breed.


Here in the United States the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR) has a division called National Sport Performance Pony Registry (NSPPR).  Here the development can continue with the Careful breeding and have another place with registry and show potential in driving, halter, and riding.   It takes time and careful breeding to develop the feathering, stocky build and bone structure true to the breed.  Another great registry for the Miniature Gypsy Horse is the International Gypsy Equine Association (IGEA).  They have a section just for the Miniature Gypsy Horses plus they offer incentives for showing your mini gypsy horse and they have a Stud Book for Breed Development.

Breeders in the Unites States are willing to take the time and effort to put forth to develop this mini version of the Gypsy Vanner.  It takes years and time but with all the time and patience comes a rewarding adventure to develop the Miniature Gypsy Horse 10 hands and under with feathering, all types of color and the bone structure associated with the Gypsy Horse.

Miniature Gypsy Horses are a new and wonderful endeavor into the horse world.



bottom of page