Where it all began - read on ..
Photos below: Appleby Fair 2010
My own gypsy journey began almost 5 years ago
when I was selling a broodmare and being told about an Imported
Gypsy Cob stallion standing at Stud in South Auckland. I have
been involved with horses for 36 years, and yet my life was
about to change unbeknown to me.
After a quick search on the net I got to meet my first Gypsy
Cobs, a two year old colt and filly and a 3 year old filly.
Words cannot describe what went through my mind meeting this
breed for the first time. Hair like you have never seen before
and not just mane and tail but legs as well. Extremely solid in
build like a mini draft horse and tight and compact. This was exactly what I liked in a cob and a fabulous height
making them ideal for adults and children to ride. Docile was an
understatement! I was privileged to witness a 10 year old boy
climbing aboard the 2 year old gypsy cob colts back who was
unbroken at the time. This little boy called him over to the
gate so he could climb on board and he clambered on. Remarkably
this colt cruised around the field as if taking the boy on a
guided tour without a halter on, without a hint of any concern,
placid and safe and yes I was sold.
search for my own Pure Gypsy then became not just a dream but a
reality after I started scanning the internet and researching
about this breed. I must have looked at dozens of stallions and
colts, mares and fillies. Feeling despondent I began to think
that this wasn’t meant to be and that I would never find my
dream Gypsy Cob. Then one day we a friend of mine sent through
an email with photo’s of a stallion for sale in the UK.
skipped a beat and then and there I knew he was the one. Cutting
a long story short the deal was done and Romany's Tinker Taylor
travelled 20,000kms to his new home and arrived in NZ in May
2009. Due to popular demand and interest we decided to travel
Romany's Tinker Taylor to Australia available at stud for the
2010/2011 breeding season. Currently in Sydney Australia, he
will be showcased and campaigned both in hand and under saddle.
We feel very privileged to have E.B Lodge, Andrew Buckley who
will educate and showcase our stallion on our behalf.
With a highly successful first breeding and showing season
behind him here in New Zealand, up until his departure in June,
Romany's Tinker Taylor was working in harness, collar and
working a chain harrowing and pulling logs. En-route we
organised to collection for frozen, and at the date of writing
he is the only Gypsy Cob stallion in Australasia with semen
available for International Export!
Appleby Fair England
June 2010 I flew to Appleby Fair, Westmorland, England and
organised to meet several breeders of Gypsy Cobs. We were to
visit their fields of gold! In England I met up with Deborah &
The Gypsy Cobs and
horses at Appleby Fair all seem to magically adapt and accept
whatever is asked of them. Mares/foals, stallions all sharing a
very close personal space. I still visualise the trotters,
smashing their way down the roads – full speed ahead.
would fly past you at any given time, usually the driver
bellowing out to let you know they are coming through. Every
time one of these horses sped past me I’d feel the shiver down
my spine. Those poor legs and high impact damage being caused,
smashing along those roads.
I didn’t photograph these horses with zero desire to do so.
Pity and sadness comes
to mind, such young horses with no doubt very short careers,
resembling grey-hounds.I did witness a wheel come off a cart as one of these trotters
was pounding full speed down the mad mile and an innocent
bystander was injured. No major damage done, both horse and
bystander was ok. Having lived and breathed Appleby Fair, day after day over the
period of several days, I am happy to report that I didn’t see
any tragic accidents or deaths, although Gypsy Families have
told me some very sad stories of the past ending in tragedy. We
were shown where the world famous “Davey Ward” was tragically
killed as he was innocently driving his cobs in wagon along the
dual carriageway in England.
We witnessed hundreds of wagons driving along motorway roads on
their way to Appleby Fair. These amazing Gypsy Cobs, tirelessly
driving and working their way up and down hills, along dual
motorways with huge trucks whizzing by them. These magnificent
horses travelling vast distance in all weather conditions,
wagons and families in tow. Many Gypsy families begin their
journey to Appleby weeks before the event actually begin. When
the heat of the day cools, these travelling families would
travel some more miles. These sights I will never forget.
Washing the horses down at the riverside at Appleby was a lot of
fun with kids riding and swimming their cobs. The weather was
extremely hot and the
horses seem to enjoy bathing in the river.
were hands on washing cobs and given some secret tips about the
care and presentation of feather!
We led the cobs from Fair Hill down to the river and then back
up which was fun.
An absolute hive of activity, you certainly have to have your
wits about you the entire time at Appleby Fair to avoid injury
or even being run over from where you stand! Negotiations and
deals being done from all over, horses changing hands, gear
being auctioned and we had rides in wagons from the river up to
Fair Hill given that my heart was in my mouth the entire way.
Certainly feel extremely vulnerable as a passenger in those
carts with that hive of activity around you!
Then hopping out of the cart with the horse still walking,
jammed up behind a truck, car hard up behind it, the horse
rearing in anticipation of its journey, and so it goes on.From
Day one we stumbled across fields littered with Gypsy Cobs at
Appleby. We tracked down and sought permission from the
breeders/owners so we literally walked through fields
photographing on a daily basis. I made this my daily mission to
visit the fields every morning, it was a good few mile as a
round trip and good for fitness!
The Gypsy Cobs all welcomed me daily, what magnificent horses
such unfortunate dealing took place for us, on behalf of our
buyer in NZ as we stumbled across a lovely big mare for sale at
Appleby. I’d spent 3 days visiting up with the seller and the
mare, even going as far to take her down to the riverside for
washing and then back up Fair Hill. My buy ers
instructions were to purchase so I travelled back up to Appleby
early evening and negotiated the deal. A few beers under his
belt, the seller finally agreed to manage the pre-export for the
mare and after some bartering he agreed to price. A slap of the
hand secured the deal. I gave him a deposit and reported back to
NZ that the deal was done!
Next evening I stopped by and the seller started changing the
rules and in turn my stomach churned. After some further
investigation I came to the conclusion that I’d be better off
walking from this deal and although out of pocket I was somewhat
the wiser and possibly lucky!
Just goes to show that we “live and learn” and be careful who
you do business with! :o)
an unpleasant experience under my belt, and I then figured that
if it was meant to be then one of the cobs would make it known
to me that they were going to pack their smalls and travel over
to New Zealand and live out the rest of their life here with my
family. Fortunately for me I was also keeping options open for
two buyers in New Zealand, so despite the unpleasant prior
dealings and monetary loss, I thoroughly enjoyed window shopping
on others behalf, camera in hand.
travelled out the next day with another world famous breeder,
Robert Watson and to his fields. Various paddocks full of world
quality class cobs. It was a jaw dropping experience and it was
crystal clear that we would only find this sort of quality
spending time with the likes of these breeders with generations
of breeding behind them. England is breeding the smaller cob,
short coupled, tight and superb quality, all delivered in a much
smaller compact package. We viewed some breath taking Gypsy Cobs
and were given a fabulous guided tour. Our day ended with a cup
of tea with this family who welcomed us into their lives. I
would have no hesitation recommending this breeder, they are a
lovely family and we will go back to visit them again one day
with more time to spare.
I would most definitely consider purchasing from this family in
next venture outside the realms of Appleby Fair was to visit
James Taylor, who by all accounts made a very good impression on
really enjoyed this visit and viewed his stallions and Gypsy
Horses in various fields. Fascinating discussing this families
history and James was comfortable and happy to share information
and knowledge. On the last day in Westmorland we travelled to
our last breeders home, and this was the visit I had waited what
seemed like eternity. Sidney Harker, Simon Doherty and their
family were very welcoming. With 6 generations of breeding coloured horses, from the 1900’s
and some of the world famous lines highly sought after today. I had been communicating with Sid and Simey for around a year
prior to this trip and I couldn't wait to meet them and their
Finally we drove to the other side of England and I met up with
another very well known family in Southend, who have bred cobs
for generations. Although a fleeting visit this breeder showed
me some very impressive gypsy cobs. Unfortunately I ran out of
time and had to leave many of his fields unexplored.
Fortunately we have gained another special contact in the UK
with quality horses and lines.
Here lies the mystery that surrounds these Gypsy Cobs.
For Romany Cobs we are well into our journey and it just keeps
getting better. We are importing again, and let you know all
about it in due course. I can't wait! Sadly we missed out on
visiting with other breeders that we had initially scheduled to
visit. We simply ran out of time! What a fine excuse for a
return visit! For Romany Cobs, it was back to business here in NZ and the
daily demands and drill of running our companies and raising our
young family. I felt pretty ripped off coming home and having to
venture out in the cold, feeding out the stud horses when just
the week before I was putting sunblock on soaking up the sun
rays in England.I guess we need to bee grateful that we don’t have snow to
contend with in our country or the dreaded winters of England to
All very surreal and at times hard to believe that I was a part
of that adventure! Fortunately I have my dozens of photographs
thanks to my big lens and a very supportive husband!Did I get sick of seeing all the Gypsy Cobs?
Not in a million years, I needed more time!Would I do it all again?
Absolutely yes in a heart beat.Have I learnt anything from that trip?
Yes indeed! Positive and negative
experiences. Would I import and purchase ‘sight unseen’ from the UK?
If I was to consider this I would only use
the few trusted contacts I have met and know personally.
I can honestly attest to the
fact that I liked the quality bred cobs in the breeders paddocks
listed above and I would import from either one of these people
in the future.