The gorgeous Gypsy Horse! We are celebrating them as our September Breed of the Month on YourDressage! Did you know that dressage riders who choose Gypsy Horses as their mounts are eligible for special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards program, as Gypsy Horse Registry of America (GHRA) & The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society are both participating organizations?
By Monica Grove; Photos courtesy of Wild Ginger Photography
HSF Sapphires White Knight is a remarkable, 5-year-old Gypsy Vanner stallion with a heart as big as his presence. Known as Candyman around the barn, this magnificent horse has captured the hearts of everyone who knows him, including his owners and myself, his dedicated trainer.
Originating from Great Britain, the Gypsy Vanner breed was selectively bred for over half a century with the vision of creating the perfect horse to pull Gypsy caravans. Today, these versatile horses can be seen not only pulling carts and carriages, but also excelling in various disciplines, including dressage, jumping, and western pleasure.
Candyman’s lineage is impressive, with his sire being multi champion and champion producer Roman of HSF, and his dam being EW Sapphire Eclipse of HSF.
In April of 2022, Candyman came to me for training, seeking guidance to refine his manners and behavior. As a young stallion, he needed to learn how to interact with other horses and behave appropriately. To expose him to different environments, I took him to barrel races, where he quickly adapted to the commotion and chaos. It was evident that Candyman had the potential to handle anything that came his way.
Our first show together was the Feathered Horse Classic at the World Equestrian Center (WEC) in Ocala, Florida, in May. We competed in halter, English walk-trot classes, and western walk-trot classes, showcasing Candyman’s versatility and willingness to try new disciplines. Since then, we have progressed to competing in walk/trot/canter classes, ranch horse competitions, working cattle, jumping fences, and even participating in our first dressage tests. Candyman’s achievements speak volumes about his talent and dedication.
At his first-ever ranch horse event, the Southeast Ranch Horse Series, he impressed everyone by finishing 3rd overall, out of 28 competing horses in the Green Horse 1 division, where he was the only Gypsy Vanner among all the stock types. In 2022, he secured the 12th position in the nation for the GVHS walk-trot/walk-jog division, and earned the prestigious title of National Reserve Champion in walk-jog junior horse trail under saddle.
In 2023, Candyman’s success continued to soar. He became the Southeast Gypsy Vanner Celebration Classical Dressage High Point Champion, Gypsy Live Grand Champion in Training Level Dressage, Gypsy Live Reserve Champion in First Level Dressage, Gypsy Live Reserve Champion in Western Pleasure Walk Trot Canter Junior Horse, and Gypsy Live Reserve Champion in Junior Horse Trail in Hand. At the Buckeye Summer Classic, he claimed the Gypsy High Point Open Walk Jog Lope/Walk Trot Canter title and impressed the audience as the Gypsy Freestyle Champion and Reserve Champion.
Candyman’s temperament is truly exceptional. Despite his young age and stallion status, he displays impeccable behavior wherever we go. People often mistake him for a gelding due to his calm and well-mannered demeanor. His loving and goofy personality never fails to bring a smile to my face, and his athleticism is awe-inspiring. With his beautiful extended gaits, Candyman captivates the audience, and his love for jumping is evident, even when he shouldn’t be jumping; I’ll never forget the time he leaped over a 4-foot tall gate out of the arena during one of our liberty classes, leaving everyone in awe and me scrambling after him, since he was now running loose on the show grounds!
Our partnership has grown stronger with each passing day. Candyman has become the horse I can rely on for a fantastic ride. He consistently gives his all, providing me with an incredible 110% effort every time we step into the arena.
Our future goals are ambitious, yet exciting. We aim to showcase that the Gypsy Vanner breed can excel beyond breed shows. We aspire to compete in more ranch horse shows, participate in USDF-recognized shows, qualify for the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, and make our mark at the National Dressage Pony Cup.
Candyman’s journey is a testament to the incredible potential and versatility of the Gypsy Vanner breed. With his exceptional talent, loving personality, and unwavering dedication, Candyman continues to inspire us all. Together, we are ready to conquer new challenges, break barriers, and leave a lasting legacy in the world of dressage.