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Fun musings: Vision vs. reality of owning a Gypsy Vanner (or other similarly excessively haired horse)?

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    #21
    Originally posted by Maythehorsebewithme View Post
    Question: I always thought the original purpose of the feathering on legs was to shed rain and keep legs dry (an evolutionary advantage). But, wow, that is not what I read in this thread.
    I guess I have been incorrectly informed all along?
    Historically, if you look at pictures of the hairy breeds: the old Irish Cobs, the Shires, Clydes, Fell, and such, you will see that the feathering is not all that extreme on working animals and really not all that fluffy even on animals in parades. It doesn't obscure the fetlock joint and tapers out quickly as it goes up the cannon bone. It is more in line with heavy feathering on a Welsh Cob today. The extreme up to the knee feather on the Gypsies in particular is down to very deliberate and selective breeding.
    It is not practical in heavy clay mud, which is why the Suffolk is clean legged. But it is, in its original state, effective as a water barrier in the typical persistent misty damp British environment. But that is a cool environment as well, as mentioned these breeds all over heat very easily.
    Heat, muddy pastures, and deep organic bedding are all a problem with all that hair. If you think about it, most working draft horses would have been kept predominantly in tie stalls, with minimal bedding, and you don't work a muddy field! Also, I suspect that any excessively hairy horse who was prone to skin issues was not kept long enough to breed.

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      #22
      Originally posted by B and B View Post

      Historically, if you look at pictures of the hairy breeds: the old Irish Cobs, the Shires, Clydes, Fell, and such, you will see that the feathering is not all that extreme on working animals and really not all that fluffy even on animals in parades. It doesn't obscure the fetlock joint and tapers out quickly as it goes up the cannon bone. It is more in line with heavy feathering on a Welsh Cob today. The extreme up to the knee feather on the Gypsies in particular is down to very deliberate and selective breeding.
      It is not practical in heavy clay mud, which is why the Suffolk is clean legged. But it is, in its original state, effective as a water barrier in the typical persistent misty damp British environment. But that is a cool environment as well, as mentioned these breeds all over heat very easily.
      Heat, muddy pastures, and deep organic bedding are all a problem with all that hair. If you think about it, most working draft horses would have been kept predominantly in tie stalls, with minimal bedding, and you don't work a muddy field! Also, I suspect that any excessively hairy horse who was prone to skin issues was not kept long enough to breed.
      Thanks for this, B and B! Very interesting and makes sense.

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        #23
        We have 2 Friesians where I board. Generally, the breed/look isn't my cup of tea, but if it had been before, the bubble would have burst looong ago seeing the upkeep required by that hair. Holy. Moly. And they don't seem to have half the hair that some of the Gypsy horses do.

        The detangling, brushing, braiding, worrying about mud fever, worrying about excess heat... plus, it FLIES about when ridden. Yikes. Just not for me.

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          #24
          Just this morning buzzed the feathers off my welsh pony. Every time he gets a bit of growth I immediately prune it back. Poor thing will never live up to his heritage around here. All that hair makes me nervous

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            #25
            I've been to several old farms in both England and Wales that still have their stabling for the heavy horses and they had very large loose boxes. I have seen stalls (the UK meaning of 'stall' where the horses are tied with a log to keep the rope taught) but they have not been at working farms.

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              #26
              I was thinking, primarily, of the urban heavy horses in terms of the tie stalls. There the stalls were ideally constructed with a pretty noticeable slope back to a drain, and usually of brick/clinker flooring. Somewhere I read the dimensions were around 6' by 9', so a loose tie. Bedding was straw. Although, I wonder if peat was ever used? I know it was in New York, and the UK has a better peat supply.... (an aside to an aside, is it any wonder 15 used to be seen as ancient for a horse ?)The loose boxes I've seen have usually been on stud farms or reserved for breeding animals.
              In any case, the real change has been in the breeding for extreme feather.
              Sorry for the thread derail

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                #27
                While some women are obsessed with their hair, I cut my own, dye the gray myself, and really don't think about it that much, but I when it came to my Shire's feathers, I was a woman on a mission. They were so beautiful, fluffy, white and majestic but wow, they were a lot of work. I probably kept Cowboy Magic in business for a decade and I was constantly watching for any signs of scratches. He got it once when he was turned out in long, wet grass and it was a real nightmare. I clipped his feathers off and really worked hard to get him through that.
                I taught in a therapy barn where there was a baby Gypsy horse, and I noticed him chewing on his legs. I begged the director to let me shave his feathers and treat him because I knew what we were dealing with. She couldn't bring herself to part with his feathers and now he has chronic scratches which is torture for a horse.

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                  #28
                  Originally posted by cayuse View Post
                  Just this morning buzzed the feathers off my welsh pony. Every time he gets a bit of growth I immediately prune it back. Poor thing will never live up to his heritage around here. All that hair makes me nervous
                  LOL, I have welsh cobs and hogging their manes and clipping all their feathers is something I tend to do unless it's been one of my stallions. I consider the clipped version so much more stress-free and it at least seems my cob herd appreciates it.
                  Ranch of Last Resort

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                    #29
                    Originally posted by kashmere View Post
                    We have 2 Friesians where I board. Generally, the breed/look isn't my cup of tea, but if it had been before, the bubble would have burst looong ago seeing the upkeep required by that hair. Holy. Moly. And they don't seem to have half the hair that some of the Gypsy horses do.

                    The detangling, brushing, braiding, worrying about mud fever, worrying about excess heat... plus, it FLIES about when ridden. Yikes. Just not for me.
                    Also, I have no idea if this is your experience too, but every Friesian I have worked with has had a really bad temperament. There must be some better lines out there since every once in a while I see kids on them, but every one I’ve been around was a pain.

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                      #30
                      Originally posted by StormyDay View Post

                      Also, I have no idea if this is your experience too, but every Friesian I have worked with has had a really bad temperament. There must be some better lines out there since every once in a while I see kids on them, but every one I’ve been around was a pain.
                      All the ones in my barn are pretty sweet. They can be pranksters, but not a mean bone between them.

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                        #31
                        Originally posted by atr View Post

                        All the ones in my barn are pretty sweet. They can be pranksters, but not a mean bone between them.
                        That’s good! Maybe I’ve just had bad luck I’ve worked with three. One was super sweet but would randomly try to kick people grooming her. One was unable to be ridden due to bolting, but was fine on the ground, and the last was fine with people, but would attack other horses and loved to knock down fence boards

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                          #32
                          Originally posted by StormyDay View Post

                          Also, I have no idea if this is your experience too, but every Friesian I have worked with has had a really bad temperament. There must be some better lines out there since every once in a while I see kids on them, but every one I’ve been around was a pain.
                          We have one who was gelded late and I think not treated SUPER well as a youngster. When he first came he was a bit standoffish and defensive, but he's come around! He's mostly a big goof now. The mare we have is honestly a doll - she's got a great temperament and is super sweet to work around. So not the same experience as you! But they are literally the only 2 I've met in real life, so who knows

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                            #33
                            To add to B&B , the Shire and Clydedales were developed as urban breeds, the feather added some flash to animals used by breweries, railways, furniture moving companies etc where attractive horses were important for business image. 19th century working horse in a city lasted about 4 years before their legs went. They were bred and trained on the farm, doing agricultural work, sold on for city work, then back to farms for lighter agricultural work and breeding. Nice circular economy. Notably, the horses used on London buses were both lighter and not so hairy.

                            The big urban stables in British cities tended to use peat bedding and hanging bails so at regular intervals the whole lot could be swept out.
                            "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

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                              #34
                              [QUOTE=Willesdon;n10687 The big urban stables in British cities tended to use peat bedding and hanging bails so at regular intervals the whole lot could be swept out.[/QUOTE]

                              What are hanging bails? The only bails I know, are bucket handles, so this makes no sense! Ha ha

                              Not a fan of hairy horses. Make my hands itch for a set of clippers! We keep our horses with short or roached manes, clipped legs. So MUCH easier to care for, avoid any skin issues in wet weather. They all have nice tails which are kept trimmed off at the fetlock ergot. In winter tails get trimmed shorter, mid-cannon, to reduce getting loaded with ice or snow, frozen mud while outside. Length is back by spring.

                              I do not have the time or inclination to spend hours grooming long hair. I would rather be out enjoying the horses in some activity, getting them SWEATY, over constant grooming. They clean up well when we go out in public, with minimal "products" required for shine and flowing tails. We always get compliments from other folks on their appearance.

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                                #35
                                Originally posted by goodhors View Post

                                What are hanging bails? The only bails I know, are bucket handles, so this makes no sense! Ha ha
                                Hanging bails were wooden planks suspended from on high by a rope or chain attached at each end. It provided a very flexible way to keep large numbers of horses. So buckets and stalls are not unrelated.
                                "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

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                                  #36
                                  Originally posted by Willesdon View Post

                                  Hanging bails were wooden planks suspended from on high by a rope or chain attached at each end. It provided a very flexible way to keep large numbers of horses. So buckets and stalls are not unrelated.
                                  Ok, I have seen the swinging dividers used with draft horses. Both planks and round rails have beel used as the movable divider. Helps keep them from crowding their partner in an open space barn. Our local Fair has such a setup for the surrey horses, all drafts. Horses give free surrey rides around the Fairgrounds.

                                  Thank you for explaining.

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                                    #37
                                    A couple of friends and I had a discussion a number of years ago about hairy horses. We all came to the conclusion that they are owned by middle aged women who were denied both My Little Ponies and real ponies as children. Now they can afford a horse, but they’re really too nervous to ride, so they have one who takes hours and hours of care - and once all the care is done, there’s no time to ride.
                                    I was younger then, but still wonder about this. I don’t mind it when someone just wants to work with and understand horses, without actually riding, but when all the pampering time means that there isn’t even any time to teach your horse to lead politely, and other people (often me) have to deal with that, I have an issue.
                                    Oh, and for the photo in the original post - when I take most of my horses to the beach, the first thing they want to do is roll - and one pony first rolls in the water and then in the sand. Can’t imagine that picture will make it onto any calendars 😂😂.

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                                      #38
                                      Originally posted by phoebetrainer View Post
                                      .... they are owned by middle aged women who were denied both My Little Ponies and real ponies as children. Now they can afford a horse, but they’re really too nervous to ride, so they have one who takes hours and hours of care - and once all the care is done, there’s no time to ride.
                                      The irony is that the traditional coloured hairy cob is tough as an old boot and requires minimal care, which is what it usually gets from a Traveller owner.
                                      "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

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                                        #39
                                        Nothing to do with the hair...but years ago I had a client who bought a couple of them from Ireland. I could not keep them inside the fences! They would lay down and shimmy under or just plow through it. I have Oak slip rail! I finally had to tether them to a tree! LOL
                                        Humans dont mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. Sebastian Junger

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                                          #40
                                          Originally posted by Willesdon View Post

                                          Hanging bails were wooden planks suspended from on high by a rope or chain attached at each end. It provided a very flexible way to keep large numbers of horses. So buckets and stalls are not unrelated.
                                          Sorry i still don't understand. What was the use of these things? How exactly did it allow one to keep large numbers of horses?

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