Founded in 2002, GCDHA registers Gypsy Cobs and Drum Horses. It also conducts inspections and puts on a very popular annual show. gcdha.com
Gypsy Horse Association (GHA)
Founded in 2009, the Gypsy Horse Association has as its primary purpose the collection and preservation of GH-related data–DNA, pedigree, and registered horse information. Data is held in several, geographically distant locations so as to be preserved should some disaster strike one location. Should the organization cease to exist, bylaws mandate that its horse registration data go to a university capable of preserving it. If all information is submitted, processing and issuance of registration materials are timely. Other member perquisites are a monthly newsletter, maintenance of an up-to-date website with member sales and member information on it, and a Facebook page.
GHA’s bylaws are such that the membership elects both officers and board members; typically the membership elects only board members, who then elect officers. Furthermore, board member terms are limited so as to give the membership ultimate control over the organization.
In 2010, GHA opened a heritage studbook–for half breeds and for Drum Horses (Gypsy crosses with at least 25% Gypsy bloodlines and the balance with Shire, Clyde, and/or Friesian bloodlines).
GHA’s registration certificate has the horse’s photos, DNA markers, and pedigree. Here is an example.
GHA’s web address is www.gypsyhorseassociation.org.
Gypsy Horse Registry of America (GHRA)
Gypsy Vanner Horse Society (GVHS)
Aside from GHA, we consider GVHS to be the most credible of the Gypsy Horse registries. As of September 2013, it has the largest number of registered horses. Based upon its history, we do not perceive it to be as protective of member rights as is GHA. GVHS registers only nominal Gypsy Horses, which it terms “Vanners.” This name was given to the breed by GVHS founders Dennis and Cindy Thompson, who noticed it in the Gypsy Horse chapter of Edward Hart’s The Coloured Horse and Pony. The breed’s Romanichal breeders seem to have called it “Cob” or simply “Gypsy Horse.” The earliest known reference to the breed in print is Edward Hart’s book, which refers to it as “the Gypsy horse type of coloured pony.” Moreover, several contemporaneous quotes contained within the Hart book refer to the breed as “Gypsy horse.” Although most Romanichal breeders did not have websites until at least the early 1990s, these refer to the breed as Gypsy Horse or Cob. In the U.S., “Gypsy Horse” became prevalent as a neutral term designed to enable “Cob” and “Vanner” people to talk to one another without anyone’s getting offended.
GVHS’s website is located at vanners.org.
Etymology of “Vanner”
Since the name “Vanner” is so central to GVHS’s philosophical basis, exploring the origins of the term is worthwhile. The OED, which reports the first known usage of the term “vanner” as occurring in 1888, defines it as “a light horse suitable for drawing a small van.” The term “van,” appearing in print with this meaning first in the early 1800s, denotes “a covered vehicle chiefly employed for the conveyance of goods, usually resembling a large wood box with arched roof and opening from behind, but varying in size (and to some extent in form) according to the use intended.” Writing in 1897, M. Horace Hayes describes the “light vanner,” a horse of indeterminate breed “which we meet in vans, ‘buses and tram-cars,” to be “active, light cart horses that can trot freely and at fair speed” and are in “a class intermediate between the light harness horse and the heavy draught horse.” The term “caravan” was not used to refer to a chimneyed living wagon such as used by the Romanichal until 1972. Therefore, although the words have a common root, there is no direct connection between “vanner” and “caravan.” The term “vanner” had large fallen out of use when the Thompsons brought it back into common usage, and it has now become widely associated with the breed. Thompson had the word trademarked for a period of time, and Mark J. Barrett’s calendars and writeups in various breed books have helped to spread the term.
The Thompsons have stated that the Edward Hart book suggested the term to them; it is included in the caption of a photo in the book. Although GVHS and its supporters portray GVHS-registered horses as the “true breed” as opposed to horses of impure breeding, we’re not sure that, in such a young breed, purity has a great deal of meaning. For instance, some registered Vanners are known to have had a Dales Pony as their sire. Based on our experience as a member of GVHS’s registration committee, we do not see those horses registered with GVHS as being any purer than those registered with GHA. SFG has had and stil hass horses registered with both GVHS and GHA.
International Drum Horse Association (IDHA)
The American Drum Horse Association was founding in 2006, apparently in support of an alternative vision of the Drum Horse. Unlike the already existing Gypsy Cob & Drum Horse Association, it did not allow Friesian bloodlines in its vision of the Drum. In 2013, ADHA changed its name to International Drum Horse Association.