Post last updated: October 10th, 2019
I love horses but I don’t need to own one. I forgot that Ocala, Florida had a lot of horse farms until I paid a visit to Meta, an early subscriber to my blog, in October 2015. I forgot because I have so many file drawers in my head from living so long that stuff gets lost up there. On returning home, I checked the internet to see if Ocala had any Gypsy Vanner horse farms. Not only did they have one but it was the foundation farm for gypsy vanners in America. Ocala’s Gypsy Gold horse farm brought the Gypsy Vanners to the U.S. I put it on my bucket list when I learned they gave farm tours.
In 2017, the Gypsy Gold horse farm moved up the bucket list. Nancy and I put it on our list for some Saturday. On March 17, 2018, we headed to Gypsy Gold with our ticket and a printed Google Map.
We were running extremely close to the arrival time when we reached Ocala and this is where our timely arrival went south. Orbiting the crooked moon as I do, I am always up for a hilarious adventure. Frustrating adventures make me grit my teeth and draw a deep line in the Florida sand. I won’t bore you with all the details of stumbling into the Matrix of the Lost thanks to Google Maps. Only the Google map on Gypsy Gold’s “buy ticket” page is correct and I didn’t scroll down far enough to see it. We learned that the farm has tried for over 3 years to get Google to correct their map. The location of the farm is correct on Mapquest.com so I would now advise: NEVER TRUST JUST ONE OF THE MAPPING WEBSITES. Check both and if you find a discrepancy, call the person you plan to visit.
Dennis Thompson, our tour guide, and his late wife, discovered the gypsy vanners on a trip to England in 1995. The gypsy vanners were not a recognized breed at that time. The horses had been bred by British gypsy/travelers. At the time Nancy and I joined the group, Thompson was giving an intriguing lecture of the various gypsy/traveler families – Romanov, Kennedy and Diderot. Thompson had so much respect for the gypsy/travelers that he has a mini-museum dedicated to them with photos and beaded clothing.
Thompson had a good sense of humor which made his tour very interesting. We were shown two horses who had been bathed and dressed up for “company” as well as a walk around the grounds (he has a total of 40 acres) to see various horses in paddocks. Stallions could not be kept together because they fight, colts were kept together, mares were kept together, and most donkeys were kept together. I missed a lot of the lecture because I wanted to talk, pet and feed carrots to the horses without a crowd around. I learned near the end of the tour that I wasn’t supposed to feed the horses a whole carrot because the horse can’t distinguish between the end of the carrot and your hand. I’m lucky I still have an arm.