Finding Our Horses
Gypsy MVP personnel in the UK, Germany, and France are constantly looking for superlative examples of the Gypsy Vanner breed. We locate most of our horses directly through our trusted friends and contacts who have made a promise to set aside their finest horses for Gypsy MVP. Many of these horses have been prized broodmares, stallions, or family riding horses. Our contacts trust us because Gypsy MVP ensures that their horses go only to the most suitable homes.
Every year, Gypsy MVP goes to the Appleby Fair to find even more wonderful examples of the Gypsy Vanner. In the past few years, the breed has experienced a great rise in popularity, and more and more interested buyers are attending the fair. As a result, some of the fair’s sellers have developed rather questionable sales practices, assuming the American buyer to be naive. Thus, only the most experienced and knowledgeable buyers are able to sort through the large numbers and find the highest quality horses. In Appleby between 2005 and 2009 we have found only eleven horses, out of hundreds, who have met our high standards. We at Gypsy MVP fully understand just how rare the best of this breed is to find.
The History of the Appleby Fair
The history of the gypsy horse is embodied in the Appleby Horse Fair, the largest traditional horse fair of its kind in the world. Since 1685, when it was set up by charter under the reign of James II, it has been an annual event. Although it was originally a venue for the trading of all types of livestock and general merchandise, its popularity with the vast numbers of Gypsies who would come each year eventually led to the occasion being known as a special horse fair.
Appleby is famed around the world for its ancient fair and for the throng of colorful characters who gather on Fair Hill every June. In the past, the date was determined by the date of the Derby at Epsom. This mid-week Classic race was—and still is—held in the first week of June. “Fair Hill Week” traditionally began on the Sunday that followed.
The Appleby Fair survived an attempt at closure by the Westmorland Borough Council in 1965.
A traveler and his horses as they make the journey to Appleby Fair.
The Appleby Fair Today
Today, the Appleby Fair is the venue of one the largest remaining gatherings of Romany and Gypsy people. The event is held during the second week of June in the English town of Appleby, located in the center of the U.K. very close to Scotland. The fair begins on the Wednesday of that week with the main horse sale on the Tuesday of the following week. Harness races and celebrations lead up to this sale day, and horses are trotted up and down the lanes in order to show them off prior to the sales. The field, which is the main site for the participants, is found on the outskirts of Appleby. This area was originally known as Gallows Hill, due to the nature of its usage in earlier times. However, it is now called Fair Hill and looks West over the town of Appleby and East toward the Pennines. Gypsy families travel to Appleby to meet up with old friends and conduct business.
During the two weeks of the Appleby Fair, horses can be found everywhere: in the river, on its banks, along the green, on roadsides and lanes, or even tethered outside hotels, shops and “public houses” (the local taverns). The ownership of a horse can, by wheeling and dealing, change several times throughout the course of the fair. Rather than in a traditional type of auction sale, purchase agreements are usually clinched with a slap on the hand after a one-to-one bartering session.
The Sunday of each Appleby Fair is known as Visitors' Day. People can walk between the rows of caravans or watch the horses being washed in the River Eden or "flashed" up and down the road. Visitors can also have their fortunes told or buy cheap goods from the many side stalls.
The little children are asleep in the wagons. When they get up, they will water the horses. Then, everyone has bread and cheese and a little bit of onion. Some of the older women tell people's fortunes. They go rabbiting with the dogs. It is very common to see a Gypsy family cooking a rabbit over an open fire in front of their wagon.
And so it goes at the Appleby Horse Fair.
Millionaire's Row is a corner at the fairground where for years one could find Gypsy men who promoted the best of the Gypsy Vanner breed and owned the horses that most embodied the ideal Gypsy horse.
Today, Millionaire's Row isn't what it used to be, but it still can be the place to find a real horse treasure.
Practice has taught Gypsy MVP personnel that the best horses can often be found hidden behind a tree, in a tucked away pasture, or bathing in the Eden River. It is crucial to understand how important Appleby is to our vision of the breed and to note its significance in helping us locate the types of horses that Gypsy MVP offers for sale.
Gypsy MVP has made it our goal to offer to our clients only the finest quality horses, the type of horses that one could have found on the Millionaire’s Row of long ago.
Appleby Horse Fair, Circa 1965
"When the little chavvies getsup, they take the grails down the pani... then we all have bread and kel and a piece of stinger... Some of the old raklis dodikins to the gorgios. They go out with the jukells shushing and a lot of muskros are in the pov. "
Describing Appleby Fair
quoted by John Ezard
Appleby Fair 2006
“Appleby 2006 was the warmest fair in history. That first week in June, the temperatures were in the high 80s, and the humidity beat even that in Houston, Texas! The old time Gypsy folk told me it was the largest turnout they had seen in twenty years. We saw over 100,000 people per day, easy. We looked at many hundreds of horses but only bought three. There was a colt out of our Warlock stallion, a 15 hand gelding named Aurthur, and the breathtaking Gypsy stallion, Caruso. With these horses being an exception, the quality of the horses at the fair was poor, or the prices were too high, but no one bought many this year. Many sellers seemed to think that we in America are naive and inexperienced, and they were asking outrageous prices from us. When we won't pay those prices for a year or two, they will lower them again.”
Look at this boy! There was a helicopter taking off right in front of him, and all he did was watch. I kid you not: if I could have found his owner, I would have bought him on the spot!
Appleby Fair is always something to remember! The colorful crowds, the bargaining in every language imaginable, the magnificent horses, the smells of spices and bathing horses, and the lush Eden valley always make it special for us.
Down the Hill to River Eden
Appleby Fair 2010