Small packages: Gypsy Cobs & Haflingers steal the show at olorado Horse Park | TheFencePost.com
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Small packages: Gypsy Cobs & Haflingers steal the show at olorado Horse Park

Lincoln Rogers Parker, Colo

What are the chances of heading to a place full of giants and finding the little guys are the ones throwing their weight around?

The Colorado Horse Park hosted its annual draft horse competition Aug. 18-20 and, standing tall among high-shouldered Belgians, Percherons, Clydesdales, and Shires were a bunch of Gypsies and Haflingers. It didn’t matter whether it was Halter Classes, Carriage Classes, Log Skid pulling, Team Obstacle competitions, or whatever ” the diminutive breeds left a big impression.

Gypsy Cobs were catching eyes throughout the horse park, with more entries this year than in previous competitions. Gypsy Cob draft horses stand between 14.2 to 15 hands on average, but their eye-appeal and disposition is responsible for a growing surge in U.S. popularity over the last three years. There are only about 2,000 Gypsy Cobs in the United States at this time, and the largest importer/supplier of the breed is Black Forest Shire and Gypsy Horses, owned by Jeff and Christine Bartko (Black Forest, Colo.) The Bartkos were happy to talk about the flashy equine.

“Like I tell people, they’re everything you love in the draft horse in a smaller, more colorful package,” said Jeff Bartko, answering questions while sitting in front of stalls at the 2006 event. Bartko has been importing and breeding Gypsy horses since 1989, but has witnessed a strong surge in demand over the last several years. He listed a number of possible reasons to explain the rising interest.

“People are discovering the breed has all the qualities that they‘ve been looking for in a horse,” he began on the topic, before ticking off some main points. “They’re quiet. They’re gentle. They’re flashy. They’re easy to keep. They’re easy to train. They’re as close to bomb-proof as you’re going to find.”

The word “flashy” is used to describe their pinto-style coloring, feathering on the legs, and ultra-long manes and forelocks. Other owners of the horses were also able to supply reasons they made the decision to purchase a Gypsy Cob.

“Their willingness to work,” was a factor supplied by Gary Smith (Elizabeth, Colo.) about why he liked the breed. Smith witnessed it first-hand while he traveled in England aboard a carriage pulled by a Gypsy horse.

“They like to work,” he continued. “They’re just an incredible, great horse.”

“I saw (the breed) and they stopped me in my tracks … literally,” said Archie Dreisbach, who switched from Quarter Horses to owning three Gypsy Cobs, including a young colt that won first place in the Yearling Halter Class at the weekend competition. It has only been a year, but the Elbert, Colo., resident can’t imagine her property without a Gypsy Horse.

“They’re just a delightful horse, (and) their size is not so overwhelming.” Smith’s wife, Marie, completely agreed.

“They’re a little painted Shire,” Marie explained of her desire to “downsize” from large Shire draft horses to something a bit more eye level. “Gypsies are a good size.”

“The Gypsy horse, being a smaller horse, is going to appeal to a much larger group of people,” said Bartko about the size issue. “People are intimidated by (large) draft horses and they’re not by (the Gypsy).”

What are the chances of heading to a place full of giants and finding the little guys are the ones throwing their weight around?

The Colorado Horse Park hosted its annual draft horse competition Aug. 18-20 and, standing tall among high-shouldered Belgians, Percherons, Clydesdales, and Shires were a bunch of Gypsies and Haflingers. It didn’t matter whether it was Halter Classes, Carriage Classes, Log Skid pulling, Team Obstacle competitions, or whatever ” the diminutive breeds left a big impression.

Gypsy Cobs were catching eyes throughout the horse park, with more entries this year than in previous competitions. Gypsy Cob draft horses stand between 14.2 to 15 hands on average, but their eye-appeal and disposition is responsible for a growing surge in U.S. popularity over the last three years. There are only about 2,000 Gypsy Cobs in the United States at this time, and the largest importer/supplier of the breed is Black Forest Shire and Gypsy Horses, owned by Jeff and Christine Bartko (Black Forest, Colo.) The Bartkos were happy to talk about the flashy equine.

“Like I tell people, they’re everything you love in the draft horse in a smaller, more colorful package,” said Jeff Bartko, answering questions while sitting in front of stalls at the 2006 event. Bartko has been importing and breeding Gypsy horses since 1989, but has witnessed a strong surge in demand over the last several years. He listed a number of possible reasons to explain the rising interest.

“People are discovering the breed has all the qualities that they‘ve been looking for in a horse,” he began on the topic, before ticking off some main points. “They’re quiet. They’re gentle. They’re flashy. They’re easy to keep. They’re easy to train. They’re as close to bomb-proof as you’re going to find.”

The word “flashy” is used to describe their pinto-style coloring, feathering on the legs, and ultra-long manes and forelocks. Other owners of the horses were also able to supply reasons they made the decision to purchase a Gypsy Cob.

“Their willingness to work,” was a factor supplied by Gary Smith (Elizabeth, Colo.) about why he liked the breed. Smith witnessed it first-hand while he traveled in England aboard a carriage pulled by a Gypsy horse.

“They like to work,” he continued. “They’re just an incredible, great horse.”

“I saw (the breed) and they stopped me in my tracks … literally,” said Archie Dreisbach, who switched from Quarter Horses to owning three Gypsy Cobs, including a young colt that won first place in the Yearling Halter Class at the weekend competition. It has only been a year, but the Elbert, Colo., resident can’t imagine her property without a Gypsy Horse.

“They’re just a delightful horse, (and) their size is not so overwhelming.” Smith’s wife, Marie, completely agreed.

“They’re a little painted Shire,” Marie explained of her desire to “downsize” from large Shire draft horses to something a bit more eye level. “Gypsies are a good size.”

“The Gypsy horse, being a smaller horse, is going to appeal to a much larger group of people,” said Bartko about the size issue. “People are intimidated by (large) draft horses and they’re not by (the Gypsy).”


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