Taskin, a rare buttermilk buckskin stallion of the Gypsy Vanner breed, made an appearance in Rancho Murieta California. This famous stallion was made into a Breyer model in 2012 as a limited edition with only 750 made. Taskin is meeting all of his west coast fans by appearing in shows with Starfire Gypsy Horses.
Grand Champion Stallion, Cedar Creek murphy SD Murphy (a Gypsy stallion), raced to the finish line at the horse show in Rancho Murieta.He placed high in the classes he was shown in, which led him to his victory as Grand Champion Stallion. At eight years of age, Murphy is a well built gypsy, with great confirmation. He is a Bay Tobiano, with a height of14.1 hands.
Samantha and CJ VanSickle with Starfire Gypsy Horses, are a couple that has a love for these horses. They run a training facility, a breeding facility, and have many of their own gypsies as well. The dedication they have for these horses is inspiring since the grooming alone of one Gypsy can take from an hour and a half to three hours.
Gypsy horses are a magnificent, beautiful breed, that are traced way back to the gypsy people, according to CJ VanSickle, a proud owner and trainer of many. He explains that the gypsy horses were bred to be muscular to be able to pull the gypsy carriages, to be small enough to be able to survive off of the land, and to have long manes and tails, and extensive feathering around the hooves as to make them elegant enough to showcase the carriages they were pulling.
They are docile animals, with a passion for working. Gypsies resemble the draft breeds, but with a height of twelve to sixteen hands. “Just like a My Little Pony,” says Samantha VanSickle, also an owner and trainer of many of this breed. If you would like to see this breed for yourself, CJ and Samantha VanSickle travel to many horse shows to show these miraculous creatures. Now let’s take an inside look at one of these shows.
On Sept. 4 through Sept. 6, I accompanied Samantha and CJ, with their photographer and marketer Jamie, and their small group of assistants, traveled to Murrieta Equine Center in Rancho Murieta California with 12 horses ready to show. They had Gypsies of all ages from a three month old colt, to yearlings, to a 13-year-old stallion, and mares and studs everywhere in between.
Starfire Gypsy Horses arrived two days early to prep for the show. The first day consisted of the drive to the show, then setting up all of the stalls with bedding, water buckets, etc. Then they set up a booth and a hospitality room for clients to visit. The second day consisted of the bathing and grooming of all of the beautiful horses. The third day the show began.
There is never a dull moment at a horse show with classes ranging from color to free movement to dressage suitability. Starfire Gypsies were on their game and working hard, along with the hard work of all of the horses they have trained. Their horses brought in many awards, including Grand Champion Stallion and Grand Champion Mare.Villa Vanner’s Taskin, a 13-year-old buttermilk buckskin stallion, took first place in the Gypsy color class and Maiden, a yearling filly, took first place in liberty, or free movement. Starfire Gypsies Horses placed in many other classes as well.
The staff and the horses pushed on, from early in the morning to late at night. The staff showed up at the stalls between 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning, and started off their day with stall cleaning, feeding, and watering the horses. Then the classes of the show began at approximately 8:00 every morning and ran until in between 6:00 and 8:00 at night, but the work did not end there.
Throughout the day, staff not only has to show the horses but make sure that they maintain clean stalls, and that the horses have plenty of water for in between shows. Then, after all of the classes for the day are over, the horses need to be fed, braided up, and blanketed. The stalls need to be cleaned one last time. Everything needs to be shut down for the night. Then at around 10:00 or 11:00 at night, after around a 16-hour day, it is time for the Gypsies and the staff to rest. Starfire Gypsy Horses are a hard working crew, and proof that hard work pays off.
At the end of the show, when it was time to load up the horses and go home, Starfire Gypsy left accomplished, not only because of their wins and awards, but because of their hard work, human and horse alike, and with an incredible amount of experience only acquired by attending this event.
Moving right along in September, Starfire Gypsies were at it again at the 2015 Festival of The Gypsies the the Rolling Hills Casino Equestrian Center in Corning California, this time with 13 horses in hand, 12 of them to be shown, and one for sale purposes only. One yearling stallion who was being shown was also for sale.
Duke of Running Winds ridden by by Nichole Sullivan with Starfire Gypsy horses raises the board taking high point champion in walk trot canter and high point reserve champion in open. Duke is a 13-year-old Piebald Stallion, who was ridden by Nichole Sullivan, an experienced rider and stallion handler as they cantered their way to victory.
Yet again, Starfire showed up two days ahead of schedule and the labor began. First they set up a hospitality room that consists of a microwave and microwavable foods, a keurig with various flavors of coffees and teas, and an ice chest filled with water and gatorade. They do so to make sure in the midst of showing, no clients, observers, or staff goes without basic needs being met. Starfire won an award based on having the most welcoming stall.
The actual show was merely two days, Sept. 19 and Sept. 20. The first day of the show consisted of many halter and in hand classes, which Starfire placed in many times. That night there were the fun classes, such as Simon Says bareback, in which rider Nichole Sullivan took first place on Duke of Running Winds. Other fun events included a belly dancer and fire spinning.
A costume class also took place the night of Sept 19. Villa Vanner’s Taskin, ridden by me, dressed as a cheerleader, led by Samantha VanSickle, placed second. According to Samantha VanSickle the cheerleader costume fit great for both rider and horse alike,“since Desiray is Taskin’s number one fan.”Then Nichole Sullivan, riding Duke of RunningWinds took third, dressed as a pirate.
The second day of the show consisted mostly of riding classes. Nichole Sullivan took charge, riding Duke of Running Winds in almost every riding class he qualified for. They placed in many of the classes they were entered in, leading the pair to their high point championships.
This show ended the summer showing season of 2015 for Starfire Gypsy horses. However, they will still be making appearances at Horse Expos this winter as well. The staff is very excited about the upcoming 2016 showing season as well.
Note: This article was featured in the Fall 2015 print edition of The Prospector