The Wonderful People at Our Magnolia Ranch in Katy, Texas
Gypsy MVP strives to handle every situation with the utmost compassion. And we strive to please.
Jennifer started years ago with MVP as our staff Photographer and has done splendid work. In 2013, Jennifer moved up the ladder to become Senior Sales and Relationship Manager for Gypsy MVP. This she achieved thru her hard work for us as our Staff Photographer and the conscientious manner in which she has dealt with every customer to make them have a wonderful experience at Gypsy MVP every day! We know we are very lucky to have her and so will you.
For prints or photo shots please contact Jennifer at: Jennifer@gypsymvp.com
Doug Kneis is a life long horse lover. His passion started as a six year old with a room full of plastic horses on shelves mixed in with army men, tanks, cannons, and hot rods. Doug's wife Elaine convinced him to get back into horses in 1999. Doug started Gypsy MVP in 2001 after owning his first two Gypsy Vanners at a time when there were only twenty others of this breed in the United States.
Doug was a founding board member of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society and was instrumental in helping the Society incorporate many years ago. He currently holds a lifetime membership status with them.
Hunter is a Texas girl that loves everything horses and cowboy! She has been friends for many years with Morgan McKellop who has been our trainer and General Horse training and Condition Manager at MVP. Sadly Morgan is following a new career path that takes her away from our ranch but good news is that Hunter is equally as talented with horses and people and has accepted her position with us right before Christmas 2015. Hunter has over 9 years riding and working with horses. She uses the parelli method for training our horses and not only ring trains them but also trail rides each horse and tries to spook proof them for any obstacle they might encounter. Hunter also keeps horse mains and tails looking perfect 24 7 and is educated in administering drugs and medicating and palpating horses. Please welcome Hunter Greer to Gypsy MVP. We are all lucky to have her here!
A Horse Buying Experience in England
When one envisions a medieval English village, a place that much resembles Appleby would probably come to mind. In Appleby, the River Eden loops through a green valley, while a Norman castle stands guard over this sleepy, ancient town. But it is June now, and the peace and quiet has been replaced with the sounds of hoof beats, the creak of wagons, and the cacophony of voices shouting in every language imaginable. Children race horses down the streets. Colorful bow-top wagons line the roads up to the auction hill.
In the middle of it all is a wiry, middle aged, Texas oil man. Doug Kneis is in Appleby to attend the three hundred year old horse fair. Doug is buying, but he is trying carefully not to let any of the sellers know it. The Gypsies in town today are Irish and Scottish Travelers, or Hungarian-Slovak in origin. They might call themselves Black Dutch or Rom or Romnichels, but to the rest of the world they are simply the Gypsies, a nomadic people that many find both fascinating and mysterious.
This is the famous Appleby Gypsy Horse Fair, and Gypsies from all over Europe are here with their most beautiful horses. Most widely known as Gypsy Cobs, or Tinkers, and bred primarily to pull the richly decorated and ornate Gypsy bow-top wagons, the Gypsy Vanner represents the best of a century old breeding program of these magnificent horses. A “proper Vanner” as the Gypsies will say when describing the best bred horses, is suitable for pulling the vans the Gypsies call home.
The horses are amazingly beautiful animals that are both smart and friendly. Indeed, one of the first people to introduce the breed to America advertised them as “A Golden Retriever with hooves.” ™
How Magnolia Ranch Got Started
Doug got into the horse business in an odd way. His wife Elaine talked him into going to a horse show outside of Houston, and, unbeknownst to Doug, picked up a bidding paddle. When a lovely white Arabian came up for bid she handed the paddle to Doug and said, “I want that one!”
With a horse now part of the household, they decided to buy a few acres and build a barn. Maybe this was not the traditional way to go into the ranch business, but it worked for them.
One day Doug was at the feed store to pick up some treats for his new horse when he saw a package with a drawing of a magnificent horse with a long flowing mane and tail. “What kind of horse is that?” he asked the owner of the store. “I don’t know,” was the answer. “But he sure is pretty!” The image of the horse stayed with Doug, and when he got home, he called the company that manufactured the horse treat and asked them about that horse on the box.
“It’s called a Gypsy Vanner,” the representative told him, “and there are a few in America, but mostly the Gypsies of Europe have ‘em.” From that moment on, Doug Kneis pretty much gave up his day job in the oil patch and became a horseman.
He learned quickly that business with the Irish and Scottish Travelers or the Eastern European Gypsies was very difficult. First, there is no written record of the Gypsy horse breed. Despite this, the Vanner can be traced back to Clydesdales, Highland Ponies, the Friesian, Shires… but the rest is a mystery. It is known that the Gypsies set out to create a perfect caravan horse. The Gypsy Vanner had to be spectacularly pretty, but it also had to possess a number of other specific traits in order to fit the Gypsy lifestyle. This horse had to be very strong; it had to be small— no more than 15 hands high; and its temperament had to be friendly and engaging. Still today, if a horse flinches at the traffic whizzing by, or if it can’t be still while the children play around it, the horse is traded away. After all, its life will be spent pulling the family home in that Gypsy wagon.
Another factor that has made business with the Gypsy horse breeders challenging is reflected in the old saying, “Gypsy Gold does not clink and glitter, it gleams in the sun, and neighs in the dark.” Doug has also found there is a common belief that all Americans are rich—and that they don’t have much horse sense. Thus, while entering negotiations, as soon as he expressed his interest in a horse, its price shot through the cloudless northern British sky. Now Doug travels to the Appleby Horse Fair and feigns disdain over every horse he sees…while secret agents buy the horses for him.
Today on their small spread near Katy, Texas, not far from the skyscrapers of Houston, a herd of fifty Gypsy Vanners frolic in the green pastures of Magnolia Ranch. Lovely eye candy for anyone who should happen to drive by.
Doug swears he never meant to get this deep in the horse business; it just happened. That first horse he bought led to another, and then another, and before long people were driving by asking what those animals were with the hairy legs and flowing tails. The real cowboys and ranchers around Katy just didn’t get it. One said, “Why, they cost as much as a sports car!”, and that gave Doug an idea. He rented a booth at a prestigious New York luxury lifestyle car show and shipped a few of his stallions to the Big Apple. While the men milled around the Ferrari and Maseratis, the women and kids stood at the stalls and petted the Gypsy Vanners. Finally, one of his horses was marched up the red carpet for its turn at the auction. Frankly, no one was sure if the horse would sell here, but at least it seemed like a good break from all the high powered car auctions. But as this magnificent stallion named Warlock stood regally on the stage, the bidding took off. $45,000…50…60…80, and, finally, $125,000. Doug Kneis realized then, while in New York at a fancy car show, that he really was in the horse business.
Today, Doug sells his horses from $13,000 to well over $100,000 to people who are real ranchers, or want-to-be-ranchers. It is not unusual to have someone make a purchase, and then ask Doug and Elaine to board their horse until they can get a barn built, or, in some cases, buy a ranch for it.
These horses look like a child’s toy, which has led many young ladies to find them on the Internet and write Doug asking for one for Christmas. Recently, a little girl wrote to say she had seen Warlock’s picture on the Internet and had saved up $300 dollars to buy him!
Doug and Elaine love to show off their horses, and really hate to sell one. Like the Gypsies, their gold does not clink and glitter, it gleams in the sun, and neighs in the dark.