As well as loving Tigers, I’m also a life-long Horse-lover.  I’ve been riding since I was six and members of my family have run an Arabian horse stud for as long as I can remember.  So when we were contacted by ‘Gypsy Royal Stud’ I jumped at the chance to talk to them about their beautiful horses. Because they were one of the horse breeders that Peter Jackson turned to when he was looking for animal actors for The Hobbit.

About Gypsy Royal Stud and the Gypsy Vanner Horses

Gypsy Royal Stud is a 700-acre property in Canterbury in New Zealand that primarily farms beef cattle and breeds beautiful Gypsy Vanner horses — a breed sometimes called the Gypsy Cob (UK, NZ), Coloured Cob (UK, Ireland, parts of Continental Europe), Gypsy Vanner (US, CAN), Irish Cob, or the Tinker Horse in parts of continental Europe.

Speaking about the Gypsy Vanner breed, stud owner Lynda Boulton reveals that all their breeding stock hails from the USA — and

“Our senior stallion the Lion Prince won several championships in the US before coming to NZ,” Lynda says.

“Prince is considered one of the finest gypsy stallions in the world. He is a 1st premium Classification … the highest award you can get for conformation and type.”


Lynda says that the Gypsy Vanner horse originated in the UK, bred by The Romani for use as a general family horse strong enough to pull their vargos (wagons). The horses had to be exceptionally beautiful and flashy, but also hardy, hard-working and exceptionally quiet.

Placidity was important because they would often camp at night in a field with only a roped-off area to keep in the horses — and children would play with them, climbing all over their backs, running around their feet etc.

Lynda says they were originally bred by crossing Shires with Dale and Dartmoor ponies.

Lynda says their younger stallion, Cracker Jack, also is originally from the USA comes from multi-time Supreme Champion parents.

“[He] is a real ‘Cracker’ of a horse. We will be using him for the first time this season. “

The farm has a strong tradition of breeding show winners.

“We showed one of Princes babies last weekend and she won Champion youngstock,” Lynda says.

“We also showed her mother Savannah at the same show and she won Champion adult. Prince has been shown twice only in NZ and won Champion Adult, Champion Pony and Supreme Champion at the NZ Pinto Show and Reserve Champion at the Canterbury Royal Show.”

Lynda says only a few have made the effort to preserve the breed.

“New buyers can be easily deceived by the many scallywags in the UK trying to pass off inferior stock by selling them cheap and saying they are from this stallion or that stallion but without DNA verification, these horses could be anything.”

Gypsy Vanners are also very versatile.

“They love jumping, will do dressage, western, and excel at cowboy challenge, trail and driving. They are the sweetest, safest, kindest horses in the world and are known as ‘Golden Retrievers with hooves’.”

The horses being put through their paces on set.
The horses being put through their paces on set.