1 The entrance to Gypsy Gold Horse Farm in Ocala, Florida - the 40 acre home to some of most magnificent horses I have ever seen!
2 This is Dennis Thompson with his partner and girlfriend, Erin Tokash, with King William - their beautiful 7 year old stallion.
3 King William was groomed right before I arrived at the farm and was the first Vanner shown to me. He is 15 hands high (which is 60 inches from hoof to shoulder).
4 The Gypsy Vanner breed was envisioned soon after World War II by British Gypsies for the purpose of pulling their elaborate caravans. The objective was to create a visually beautiful workhorse that would labor all day and be docile enough to be managed by small children. The English Gypsy Caravan is the most decorated caravan in the world.
5 The typical color scheme of the Gypsy Vanner is black and white, but the breed is not determined by color. Instead, it is defined by body type- short back, heavy hips, broad chest, heavy flat knee bone, short strong neck and feathernig that starts at the knee and hock, which covers the front of the hooves.
6 I found the Vanners to be very much like Martha's Friesians in that they are as majestic as they are intimidating in size, but are quite graceful with a very gentle temperament. Pictured here is Stallion Manager, Gabrielle Gonzales with the beautiful stallion GG Versace.
7 This is Caymus - named after the California wine. He stands at 14.3 hands high and is one of Dennis' best producing stallions.
8 Because hair is a cumulative gene - the Vanner breed was developed from only hairy legged horses - mustaches, double manes and profuse manes and tails are unique to the breed and a very common feature.
9 Vanners are also very social animals and love the company of humans. As I walked away from Caymus, he seemed to say, "Wait, where are you going? Come back!"
10 These horses are stunning to look at standing still, but when in motion, they are so graceful, fluid and dream-like! This beauty is GG Diamond Girl - a mare very dear to Dennis as she was born on his late wife's birthday.
11 This mare's name is Queenies Filly. When I took this photo, about 4 weeks ago, she was 10 months pregnant and almost due to foal.
12 Despite the late date of her pregnancy, she was in very good spirits. Erin assured me that it would be ok to get in the paddock with her to take her picture. She was so sweet and mild and loved when I gave her a good scratching on the shoulder.
13 And just 9 days ago, she gave birth to this adorable, healthy and thriving little filly!
14 Dennis and Erin named her GG Princess Willow. So cute!
15 Typically new borns are approximately 100 pounds. Gabrielle demonstrates how light she is.
16 Next, Dennis took me over to meet BB King!
17 BB - which stands for Birthday Boy - is a very special stallion because he is the very first solid colored baby Vanner born in America and was born April 30th, 2002 on Dennis' late wife Cindy's birthday.
18 If you take the amazing tour offered at Gypsy Gold Horse Farm, you will learn so many fascinating things about the Vanner breed, like how Dennis and his late wife Cindy named the breed Gypsy Vanner
19 And Dennis is also responsible for bringing the very first 16 Gypsy Vanners to the United States!
20 I discovered that, like Martha, Dennis is a genuine animal lover in the most prolific sense. In addition to his 30 Gypsy Vanner horses, he's got 5 Mammoth mules, 1 donkey, 5 Mccaw parrots, 50 white doves and 1 pug!
21 His donkey - named Donkey Hoti - is 25 years old and allowed to roam free throughout the 40 acre property and has never wandered off! Dennis says, "Hoti somehow knows that the grass is not greener outside of the gates of Gypsy Gold!"
22 HIs mules are very possibly the only herd of Molly Mules being used as recipient mares. They cannot make their own babies because they are hybrid creatures with an odd chromosome.
23 But Dennis, leveraging technology, found a way to use them as recipient hosts for Vanner embryos! This technique is very useful for Vanner mares that may have problems giving birth.
24 This Mule Mom is named Priscilla and her embryo Vanner baby, which is a full breed Gypsy Vanner, is GG Georgii Bok.
25 The main barn at Gypsy Gold has fourteen stalls.
26 Three of the stalls are foaling stalls. A video monitor in the stall allows them to view the expectant mother twenty four hours a day and a special device sends a signal to Dennis' mobile phone when the birth is imminent.
27 The foaling stalls are double the size of regular stalls, which allows the expectant mother to have plenty of room for her big day.
28 Babies from left to right are, GG LittleFred, GG Latcho's Rose, The Queen of Hearts and the mother is The Loveheart Mare. Every baby at Gypsy Gold has a rich and fascinating story, which is detailed in the tour.
29 See some of the most magnificent horses you will ever see and be awed by their rich and fascinating heritage - take a tour at Gypsy Gold if you're ever in the Ocala, Florida area!