Countryfile Magazine - - Gypsy Life -

The horse plays a cen­tral role in Ro­many cul­ture, as Gyp­sies de­pended on a ‘kushti grai’, a good horse, for their transport and liveli­hood. The Ro­many pref­er­ence has tended to be for ‘coloured’ Welsh cobs, a stocky and ver­sa­tile breed with a good com­bi­na­tion of strength and stamina. Gyp­sies also be­lieved their piebald pat­tern­ing would put off un­scrupu­lous army of­fi­cers – who pre­ferred an­i­mals of one solid colour – from tak­ing their horses into mil­i­tary ser­vice.

This at­tach­ment to the horse has proven to be re­silient and for most Gyp­sies it has out­lasted the move from life on the road to a more set­tled, mod­ern ex­is­tence. To­day’s horse fairs still at­tract thou­sands of vis­i­tors. Many of them – in­clud­ing Ap­pleby Fair, which takes place in Cum­bria each June – be­gan as gen­eral live­stock sales or drovers’ gath­er­ings, which at­tracted Ro­ma­nies be­cause they of­fered chances to trade horses and other key goods, such as har­nesses, parts for wag­ons and flat carts, fab­rics and lace. A fam­ily could pitch camp for sev­eral days or weeks, ex­change news and tales with other Trav­ellers, and hope that el­i­gi­ble youths might meet a po­ten­tial part­ner from a good fam­ily.

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