Caring for your Gypsy

Did you know that, as a draft breed, the Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse has some special needs both nutrionally and pharmaceutically? The metabolism of the draft breeds are geared a bit differently from light horses and it's important to be aware of the sugar, fat and protein content of your feeds and hay. A high fat, low sugar diet has been highly recommended for many horses and is especially effective in draft breeds.

The slower metabolism of the cold bloods can also be a challenge when treating medically. Certain medications should be given at a much lower dose per pound, than you would give a light horse. Tranquilizers and analgesics should especially be given with caution. If you are still learning about the needs of the draft breeds, we highly recommend you talk with your veterinarian about the daily, as well as, emergency treatment of draft horses. One note of caution, though, not all veterinarians have a great deal of draft horse experience and may not be up to date on treatment variations for drafts. Ask your veterinarian about their draft horse experience and, if it is not very extensive, ask if they would mind doing some research into the effects of certain drugs on the slower draft horse metabolism.​

                                                                           Article Credit - Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse Association

As an owner of a feathered horse you may know that the skin under your horse's feather requires some care in order to prevent bacterial infections (aka scratches, mud fever, greasy heel or Clyde itch).

Julicia from Nova Scotia in Canada wrote us the following:

"My clyde mare gets mites in her feather and would scratch them off if I don't catch it ! I rub pour-on ivermectin into her feathers, and repeat it in 10 days, and her feathers stay nice and long all year long! (I usually only have to do this in the spring).

The pour-on ivermectin comes in a plastic bottle and it's a blue liquid. The box it comes in is black with a cow head on it. It says; pour-on for cattle, but around here we use it on everyone! I've even given it to my cats for ear mites, and it clears them right up! I only use a small amount (mabey 1/4 cup), put on a cloth and rub it into the feathers up to the knees".

Katrina Millar of Wolf Manor Estate has created a very nice page about how she keeps her horse's feather and skin underneath in great condition by occassionally oiling and sulfuring her horse's legs. We find those advices very helpful and created a link to this page for you to learn a little more about feather care.

There is another method which was recommended from Ingrid Smith at Friesian Forest in California. It is very effective and can be applied on your horse's legs quickly... a mix of strongid wormer, nitofurizom and DMSO which you can get from your vet. Mix equal parts (smells like garlic) and apply daily as long as you see any signs of sores underneath the feather. Just make sure that every time you don't apply too much since your horse will continue to occassionally scratch those sores with it's mouth until they are healed.

Owning a gypsy horse will bring lots of joy to the whole family and checking your horse's skin once in a while won't take much of your time. Keeping your gypsy horse out on the pasture in the summer will result in some loss of their feather but you can still determine the difference between a smooth legged horse, or partbred and a full blooded gypsy horse. I've heard that some dealers will try to offer their partbreds as full blooded horses and blame the little or non existing feather of their horses on them being kept out on the pasture. But there is one simple step you can take by just asking the owner of the horse you are interested in for pictures throughout the seasons.

For an example of how a feathered horse's legs looks like throughout the seasons I've published pictures of a stallion, his name is "Talisien", located in Montana. The left picture was taken in fall (by my husband) after this stallion did spend all summer out in the pasture and before he was exported to the states. On the left picture the feather doesn't cover the hooves anymore, but it's starting at the hocks and still reaches down to the ground one one side. The right picture (photo courtesy of BFSGH) was taken about 6 months earlier, in May. Those pictures show very well the difference. Some feather loss will always occur throughout the year but it will also grow back quickly and this fact has no impact on the value of your gypsy horse.

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Bedford, Virginia