Gypsy horses are named after the very people who bred them into the beautiful creatures they are – the gypsies. Gypsies believe that there is no such thing as too much feather, and any legitimate, serious gypsy breeder will tell you the same. So what is feather exactly?
To be feathered, the horse must have ground-length hair that completely covers the hoof. The hair at the front of the hoof has to naturally grow longer than an inch to two inches in order to be considered feathered. By gypsy standards, a high quality gypsy horse should have thick, full hair all around the hoof. Any less and the horse is not considered a good gypsy horse.
Cheaper horses will have less hair and traditionally, this is believed that the breeder could not afford a good stock of horses. Expensive, good quality, and well-bred horses will have tons of feather and are traded among gypsies for large sums of money.
Trade horses are horses sold at auctions and usually light boned with very little feathering. Gypsy breeders consider these horses to have very little to no value due to their non-pure breed line.
If a feathered horse is bred with a non-feathered horse, the result is always a non-feathered horse since the feathering is a recessive, accumulative gene. Breeding with a non-feathered horse ruins generations of the gypsies hard work and dedication to creating the perfect feathered horse.
Unfortunately, many horses are imported to the US as pure gypsy horses, though they will only have light hair around their hoofs. Any horse with light feathering is not a pure-bred and likely has a non-feathered horse very close in its lineage.
True-feathered gypsy horses are either imported from a trustworthy source or bought from a good imported stock. Just be sure to look for the full, long, and complete feathering around the hoof to ensure a pure gypsy horse. Even the mares have full feathering.
Pay attention to the hair around the hoofs on any horse called a gypsy horse before committing. You can decide for yourself if a horse is truly a gypsy horse by knowing what feathered looks like.