And herein I think, lies the problem. With the immense racism against Gypsies and Travellers in the UK, I do believe that any poor quality horse, was immediately said to have been bred by Gypsies. Considering the very few true Gypsies and Travellers in the UK, compared with the population, the horses they actually bred, were few. Certainly, Gypsies of old, used horses as their currency. Horses were their pride and ways of getting about the country. I'm quite sure, that not only their half-leggers were sold to the city companies for vanner work. It would seem probably, that sometimes, they had to part with some quite good quality horses.
About nine years ago, I wrote this piece, when a similar conversation, came about. AntiquePhotos
This will show many types of vanners. Some large, some small, but all considered vanners of the time. I actually remember some old timers in England, who still called all horses who made deliveries, 'vanners'. I'm old enough to also remember when our meat, bread, groceries and milk, was delivered by horse and cart.
I have written much about a fellow called Reuben and his family. They were true Gypsies and delivered our vegetables in Falmouth, Cornwall, during the war. His Dolly, was the first Gypsy mare I ever knew and as a little girl, could hardly wait for his arrival each week.
Dolly was all white and very hairy. Reuben would allow me to sit on her back, while ladies on the road, would come up the back lane to obtain their vegetables for that week. I have remembered Reuben and his wife and son, all my life. I cannot imagine how difficult their lives must have been at the time. Luckily, we had a back lane at the end or our garden and this is where he would stop each week and ring his bell. I know Reuben is somewhere now away from this world, with Dolly stepping out smartly ahead of him and his cart.