For all of us there are defining moments where we stand at the crossroads and one decision sets in motion a chain of events that alters your life forever. For me that moment came as I thumbed through a horse magazine, causally looking at the pictures when my attention was suddenly riveted on a photograph of a big black and white horse with loads of feather and tons of hair. Truthfully I don’t remember the horse’s name or the owner but I could not get the horse out of my mind. I had to find out more…whatever was a Gypsy Horse?
That fascination lead to a calling.
As I began my education regarding this breed, I was struck by the mystery and misinformation that surrounds this fascinating animal. Like the Gypsy culture itself this breed has been misunderstood and maligned. It was only when America discovered these horses that the equine community began to change its mind about Gypsy Cobs. I however was smitten from the first moment. I was determined to meet one in person to see if the hype lived up to the reality. I made arrangements to visit Black Forrest Shires and Gypsy Horses on my next road trip. I was blown away. The horses were better than I had imagined. Not only beautiful to look at but exceptionally friendly and smart. I was determined to own one!
I kept watching all the websites especially Black Forrest. One day BFSGH added a new picture of a young filly, all black with white socks. She was built like a tank and I knew she was exactly what I was looking for in a Gypsy Horse. Sasha came to live with me. I was ecstatic. Little did I know that Sasha was just the harbinger for my real Gypsy journey.
I started to research proper conformation in a Gypsy Horse. The more I learned the more I appreciated how fortunate I had been; in ignorance and based solely on intuition, I had discovered a breeder referred to only as SD, a true traveller who occasionally sold a few horses. How lucky I thought, that he decided to part with my Sasha.
My admiration grew when I discovered a stallion named Flash Harry. It came as no surprise that this magnificent stallion also belonged to the mysterious breeder, SD. I was assured that “there is no way he will part with this stallion.” OK, if I could not have Flash Harry perhaps I could find a Flash Harry foal in America. I found a blue roan filly and a true red roan colt both of them I was told were sired by Flash Harry!
Several years later with a small herd of Gypsy Horses in my barn, I decided that I was going to take a few horses to the World Gypsy Horse Show in Ft. Worth, TX. That decision would prove to be pivotal.
On the other side of the “pond” Stevie Down had also decided that he was going to the World Gypsy Horse Show. A mutual acquaintance sent me an email. Since Stevie was also going to the show, she was wondering if I would like a hair sample from his stallion, Flash Harry. That way I could test both my filly and my colt and determine once and for all if he was in fact their sire.
At the World Show it was hectic. Horses to exercise and groom, stalls to clean, classes to attend, I was running everywhere. While I rushed around, Stevie and his son, Steve, along with daughters, Janey and Josy, arrived at the show barn. Walking down the aisles, they discovered Sasha, munching on some hay waiting for her turn in the wash rack. Stevie saw her and announced, “She is one of ours.” Just by looking he recognized her as the Jim daughter he had sent to America as a weanling. Once things around the barn slowed up, I was introduced to Stevie and his family. The mysterious breeder SD in the flesh, a true Romany Gypsy named Stevie Down.
Meeting Stevie was like finding a long lost friend. Our friendship has endured and grown. Stevie has an amazing family and I am fortunate to have them as my second family.
Of course, one of the side benefits of our friendship is that I have the privilege of learning from a master breeder. Stevie’s family has been breeding Gypsy Cobs for over 200 years. My education continues. My Gypsy Journey has begun.
– SD Farm
P.S. Along the way I discovered that neither the colt or the filly are Flash Harry offspring, however, I don’t mind as both Flash Harry’ sire, SD Jim and his true brother, SD Flash William now live with me.