New England Gypsy Vanner and Drum Horses In The Spotlight
By CH Staff

New England Gypsy Vanner and Drum Horses In The Spotlight

The chill autumn air and temperatures that fell on the fairgrounds at Cobleskill, NY, did not thwart the efforts of the organizers of New England Gypsy Vanner Horse Club Annual Gypsy and Open Horse Show held October 8th and 9th, 2022.

The crisp cold weather may have tinkered with the number of visitors that attended but the weekend brightened nicely as the competitors presented their boldly colored horses for judges Jennifer Sawyer and Pamela Allen to assess.

New England Gypsy Vanner and Drum Horses In The Spotlight

Show organizer Linda Voehringer, did a good job putting together this friendly and open low-key event, that showcased many of the Board of Directors and active club members with their horses throughout the 131 classes. As with any relatively new club, it is always the keenest owners of a particular horse breed in a region that step up to build a local association with their volunteer efforts, so their attendance is hardly surprising.

Olivia Cox and Max.   Shelby Rader and Riser
While some classes such as the driving events, were sadly under subscribed, others such as the Gypsy North American Bred Halter Class garnered 14 participants all hot to trot into the winner’s circle.
In fact, the only entrant in the driving classes was Gypsy Vanner and Drum breeder Barb Elliot, Richland, NY, who had a very successful event with her two mares, 8 year old Gypsy Vanner N'Co Zorro’s Can’t Get Enough of Me aka Meme, and 7 year old Drum mare Thornhill Falcons Copper aka Copper, with foal at side MCF CopperMaxx Ironman aka Manny, sired by the 18.2 hh Shire stallion, Jenson’s Monty Maxx, who is a beautiful working stallion on Phantom Dragon Ranch in Colorado, and is currently for sale.
Elliot trains her own horses, and her wins in the driving classes with Meme she described as ‘hollow’ due to the lack of any competition. But she was thrilled with Meme’s 1st place wins in the Gypsy 5 and over mare class and Gypsy Champion mare class even though it was a split decision.

Barb Elliot with Meme
“I was very happy Meme was 1st place 5+ older mare, although it was not unanimous. It was a split decision with another beautiful mare Sugar Hill Ailish. The Grand Champion mare class went the same – a split decision between two very nice horses. Meme is bred to Skycastle Thor for a summer foal next year. I am ecstatic and really looking forward to the result of this pairing.

Barb Elliot with her Drum colt Manny
Copper, although she only showed against a Gypsy Cross and another Drum filly topped her class too. Even though her behavior was less than ideal as she has a foal and was apprehensive about the strange horses being around him. Her foal Manny took it all in stride like a champ. I brought him solely for the experience/education and I was pleased to see how he reacted (or more correctly didn’t react), to his first trip/trailer ride away from home. Manny will be looking for a new home next year, and I welcome inquiries. He is an F2 Drum horse.”

Barb Elliot Driving Meme
As the only driving competitor present, Elliot’s input into this first-time use of the showgrounds by the NEGHC was particularly relevant,
“I cannot say enough how wonderfully nice and accommodating the venue staff was. I was pleased with the stalls. The ring was gigantic. That translates to comfortably big enough for the driving classes too. I would love to compete here again, and I believe our show is scheduled to be here again next Fall.”

Cobleskill Fairgrounds Spacious Arena
The presentation of Elliot’s horses was stellar with flowing white feathers, manes and tails, and braided forelocks. Caring for Gypsy Vanner’s grooming and health needs can be a challenge as any owner of the breed can attest. As a registered nurse Elliot takes it all in her stride.
“People think because they have a lot of hair, they take a lot of maintenance, but that's not really true. They do take longer to bathe, but in between special events, I keep the mass of hair braided up/out of the way. If I never was going to show and just have a true pleasure horse, I would routinely thin or trim the mane and tails. That would help limit the grooming.  But I truly do not fuss over her hair. I feed for quality hair growth and keep it braided. I do not wash very often at all. I do treat routinely for mites that love to set up in the thick wooly 'feather' but that’s a quick treatment 2-3 times a year as a preventative. Untreated mites can help lead a horse to CPL (chronic progressive lymphedema). But that is very avoidable with healthy leg/feather management.”
Like most Gypsy Vanner and Drum horse owners and trainers, Elliot is passionate about working with these breeds.
“The Gypsy Vanner and Drum horses are some of the easiest going breeds I have ever worked with. I am sorry I was not able to own them earlier in my life. They are so enjoyable. They are the absolute perfect family horse. Versatile and adaptable and willing to try anything you point them at.”
Danny AhrenDespite some of the smaller class sizes the regional reach of this show extended far beyond its inherent borders. The winner of the ‘longest travel award’ sponsored by Meadowbrook Gypsies, VT, was proudly claimed by owner of Emerald Hills Gypsy Vanners, Inverness, Florida, Danny Ahrens.
Ahrens brought his 4-year-old stallion EH Lyuba’s King Maximas aka Max to the event, where Olivia Cox rode the horse that was trained by Paula Canaday of Canaday Show Horses.
“Max shined in Open Western Pleasure. We did all the WT/WJ classes chasing the National Point Title. Currently we are 3rd. Him and I also won the halter class bred and shown by owner. That was the 5th show in a row we got a 1st under one judge or more in that class. Show went really good for us, and the biggest surprise was the horse count. Nice that the Gypsy Vanner breed is growing and is supported in the N.E.,” said a happy Ahrens.
Ahrens liked the location of the event and was grateful that there was no heavy rain as that could have made it difficult. He indicated that he would definitely show at this event again.
Olivia Cox and EH Lyuba’s King Maximas“Yes, this was a great show. I enjoyed meeting a ton of new people. Max and I will be heading to Texas for the Nationals in November. In 2023 Max will make the Gypsy Vanner Hall of Fame. He will be joining his brother GG Lyuba’s King Zeus and they will be the 2 youngest horses and the only brother combo to make the Hall of Fame. We also plan to debut EH Sheravouge’s Mistic Ember in performance.”

When asked for some constructive notes for the show management Ahrens offered some helpful suggestions:
“I’d suggest that the show organizers could double check the GVHS pointed classes list and be sure to offer them all. The list changes annually. Once performance classes reach 10 or more do splits. They could also offer JR and SR.”
Side Note: Scoring at these events can be confusing for spectators and those not in the know.

Here’s the scoop as explained in excerpt by Board Member Misha Duvernoy:
“The judges individually judge.  Awards TWO JUDGES AND TWO SETS OF RIBBONS. Rosettes up to 6th place in all classes SHOW END POINT TABULATIONS: 1st place – 6 points, 2nd place – 5 points, 3rd place – 4 points, 4th place – 3 points, 5th place – 2 points, 6 place – 1 point. ½ point given to an entry who is the only entry in the class. Champion Halter-5 points, Supreme Champion Halter-5 points HALTER AWARDS There will be one Grand Champion, Reserve Champion, and Supreme Champion Horse from each Gypsy sex division per judge. The Supreme champion will be chosen by each judge from the three Grand Champion winners of their respective in-hand, Halter class. Gypsy Champion & Reserve: Stallion, Mare, Gelding, and Gypsy Supreme Champion. HIGH POINT HORSE AWARDS Guidelines: Points are accumulated by the HORSE regardless of the exhibitor (a horse can get points with more than one rider). There are three High Point Awards, Gypsy High Point Overall, GVHS High Point Overall (winner must be a GVHS registered horse), and All Breed High Point Overall. Points are awarded from the following qualifying classes:…”
 Olivia Cox on max.   Shelby Rader on Riser
Unanimous 1st.    Unanimous 2nd

Like Elliot and other Gypsy Vanner owners Ahrens loves the gentle attitude, intelligence, and versatility of this breed. Also similarly, when questioned about the hardest thing that has to be dealt with in regard to ownership of this particular breed the answer was unsurprising:
“In one word ‘hair’. In the pasture there is one level of grooming that needs to be maintained. Once you commit to showing that level goes up considerably. Learned a lot of tricks over the year which has made grooming much easier. I have to thank a lot of my competitors for the valuable info.”

New England Gypsy Vanner and Drum Horses In The Spotlight

Board of Directors member and Show Chairwoman Misha Duvernoy, Hebron, NY helped to form the New England Gypsy Horse Club in 2017 and was described by President of the Club Livia Brine as, “My partner in crime to get this club off the ground and was backbone of our show.” Like many other Board Members, Misha was active at this event presenting her own string of horses that included Shimmy of Kastle Rock 22, Sugar Hill Figgy Pudding 1 and Sugar Hill The Mighty Cuinn 2 and Vine’s Giacomo 14.
Misha showcased her horses in the Amateur Division, along with some help from Caroline Reardon in the Youth English Division and her trainer Tabitha Goetschalck, who rode Vine’s Giacomo 14. 

“I did not do as well in English as I would have liked. I was pleased with my performance in Western and Ranch Riding. I’ve had some health issues that have prevented me from riding much and are causing me to miscue my horse. My horses however did really well. My gelding Giacomo did phenomenal at his second ever show and held his own against very seasoned, finished horses. He’s offered for sale and is going to make someone an amazing partner. My fillies did great, with 2-year-old Sugar Hill The Mighty Cuinn bringing home several blues and a Grand Championship. Our trainer Tabitha has done a spectacular job with our horses,” said Duvernoy.

Duvernoy is rightfully proud of the achievements of the club and the camaraderie that is embodied in this relatively small group of Gypsy Vanner and Drum horse aficionados.

“This is the first year that this show has been held at this venue. I really liked it and I know things will just get better and better. We’re always working to improve the show for our valued exhibitors. I love competing at the NEGHC show. The comradeship between competitors is amazing. Everyone is supportive and helpful. People helped competitors with rules, tack, anything others need. It’s something I haven’t seen at other breed shows outside of the Gypsy Vanner breed. There’s a great group of owners in the Northeast that have become more like a big family." 

Duvernoy also espoused the virtues of the Gypsy Vanner breed for their versatility.

“I love that Gypsy Vanners are versatile and game for anything. I am someone who likes to explore different disciplines and activities and I want a horse that will try anything with me. Gypsy Vanners will bravely tackle all types of situations. They display courage and curiosity. I have found that they tend to be low on flight and high on investigative behavior. They approach scary objects with curiosity.”

Interestingly Duvernoy did not mention ‘hair’ as the leading difficulty to manage item when it comes to ownership of a Gypsy Vanner.

“Saddle fitting can be difficult. I recommend working with a professional to find the right saddle.”

The show did have a professional saddle fitter at the event to aid in this challenge for the attendees that were interested in approaching this all too common and significant issue for the riding of these wide horses. Unfortunately, due to an equine medical emergency that arose at her home, the fitter was forced to leave the show before many prospective clients were able to meet with her to garner advice. But more importantly to us fellow horse owners who empathize with such situations, the outcome of the medical emergency we understand was positive.

L-to-R Misha Duvernoy,Tasha Landman, Lois Griggs and Olivia Brine.

Other success stories include that of the NEGHC President, Livia Cline. She and her husband Joe are avid breeders of Gypsy Vanners so it is not surprising to find them both active in the club as well as on the show circuit.

“We are the proud owners of Wool & Withers Farm in Littleton MA, my Husband Joe and I own several Gypsy Horses, mostly breeding stallions which we are fond of but couple mares that we intend to have small breeding program, we are also part of the founding group that started the nonprofit New England Gypsy Horse Club.”

Cline went on to explain her experience from both sides of the fence at the event. As an organizer and competitor:

“Although this is our {NEGHC} 7th year having our annual show, this was our club's first year hosting our show at the Fairgrounds in Cobleskill. It was stressful to set up a show at a venue you have never seen. Thankfully we found it suited our needs with a larger covered arena, large numbers of solid stalls, trailer hook ups and the friendly, supportive staff made it very comfortable and easy to navigate. The location was also a short ride to local restaurants and stores which was also very convenient. We are planning on returning to this venue again next year. We had great feedback from many of the attendees.

Livia Brine Schooling Nautilus Morning Thunder

My husband and I brought our 11 year old stallion Nautilus Morning Thunder {as} my mount for this show, our 11year old mare Nautilus Kaboodle with her rider Brittany Campbell (who also rode her own horse a mustang named Good Golly Miss Molly in all breed) and our newest addition SGF Silver Diamond "Luna" our youngest 3 ½ year old mare with her rider Jodee Coke.

Judges Jennifer Sawyer and Pamela Allen Inspect Livia Brine’s SGF Silver Diamond

All these horses exemplify the very gentle and willing temperament of the breed, especially Luna - about 90 days into training and in her first walk trot classes she did very well and listened to her rider with trust that was palpable. Brittany and Molly earned High Point All Breed Reserve in Western W/J/L and Thunder and I had hard earned High Point Champion in Amateur Western W/J/L which I would like to thank my trainer/friend Kelli Ann Kinney at Jest-A-Bit Farm for improving my skills and my partnership with Thunder to bring us to a level where we felt really confident this year, of course there is always something to take away from the show and you know where you need to improve and that sets the goals for the next show season.”

When asked about the positives and negatives of Gypsy Vanner ownership Cline was on the same page as others:

“We had many visitors, not participants, but just visitors come to the show to watch the classes and visit the horses and ask about the breed. They always ask the question,"{Is} all that hair is that hard to take care of?" For most I am sure all that hair can seem like a daunting task, however I can say at the end of a hard workday or in the quiet of the evening, there is nothing I enjoy more than pulling out a brush and going in and just grooming or braiding my horse’s mane. Gives me a sense of peace and yes it may be tedious but well worth all that we get back from this breed. Their willingness to give you their best, smart, sensible, quick to learn anything you put to them and comical. It is never a dull moment when you own one. What is the hardest thing about owning a gypsy horse? well truth be told, it’s because you can never own just one. As they say, they are like potato chips you just have to keep getting one more and pretty soon your wallet is empty, but your heart is always full.”

Paul Alvin-Smith Schooling His Late Grand Prix Horse WVH Charrington

Attendees at the event included British international Grand Prix dressage competitor/coach and clinician Paul Alvin-Smith who when interviewed had this to say about the event:

“It was lovely to see this breed of horses from my homeland. My personal experience of the breed is limited. I occasionally saw them out and about on country roads being used as vanner horses by true gypsies as a child, but I have worked in my professional dressage career with some of the participants at this event in the past several years at clinics and lessons. I give credit to them for getting out there and doing it. Showing is expensive and it is hard for less experienced competitors to put themselves out there. While I understand the point system and its value, as a seasoned dressage trainer I believe showing is also about tracking your progress as both a trainer and rider and learning from experienced judges how your work is progressing. This input is invaluable. It’s a shame that there are no official comment cards or notes given to competitors by the judges to explain their decisions as there are on dressage tests. But of course, halter classes, hunter and Western shows operate that way. Even an unofficial comment or two from a judge could help competitors better prepare and understand their placings. This is not an uncommon happening after dressage competitions. But that is a different animal altogether.”

The evolution of the Gypsy Vanner and Drum horse breed in the U.S.A. and the shows at which they can be seen continues to inspire prospective horse ownership of these eye-catching equines. The event at the Cobleskill showgrounds would likely have been even better attended if notice of its time and location was more widely known.

Patiently Waiting in the Collecting Ring

With the immediate large local equine college program and horse aficionado population of SUNY Cobleskill at hand, board signage at the street entrance and a local marketing effort would certainly bring more attention to the event from a regional perspective, which could then garner vendors, more sponsors, food trucks and a true ‘carnival’ atmosphere to this show. The area is ripe with agritourism interest and weekend warrior families keen to experience rural lifestyle of which horses are so much a part.

Congratulations for a job well done to the organizers and the volunteers that helped bring this event to fruition and importantly, to all those that came to participate. The NEGHC may be in its infancy relative to other equine organizations, but their intent and efforts are to be admired.

New England Gypsy Vanner and Drum Horses In The Spotlight

Looking for a New Horse?
Here are a few to consider:
Name: DGR Eric

For Sale
15.1 Gypsy Vanner gelding, 7 years old. Has 6 months professional training
Currently training in dressage. Has championships in
halter and shown by an 8yr and jr. exhibitor also in the
ribbons. Drives as well. Eric grooms, clips, smiths, and
loads. Price $32,000

For Sale
For more info please contact Dan Dali Haber, Mountainview Training Center 413-222-7315 in Granby MA.
Name: MCF CopperMaxx Ironman aka Manny

For Sale
2021 F2 Drum Colt
Sired by the 18.2 h h Shire stallion, Jenson’s Monty Maxx, a working stallion on Phantom Dragon Ranch in Colorado.
Dam: Thornhill Falcons Copper aka Copper
Price: Private Treaty
For more info please contact breeder: Barb Elliot Tel: 315 481 7077 in Richland, NY.