without a horse is not a Gypsy...
Gypsy Horse was aired on Radio Four at the end of August.
Here's your chance to listen to it again. It lasts 27 mins
and requires Realplayer. Download Realplayer
changing relationship between Gypsies and their horses epitomises
the profound changes that have occurred in the Traveller lifestyle
in the course of one short generation.
When the horses and caravan gave way to the lorry and trailer something
changed forever. A way of life that had remained essentially unchanged
for centuries suddenly came to an end, and with it went centuries
of tradition and culture.
Today horse ownership amongst Gypsies is on the increase and the
relationship is being rekindled in a modern context.
Romany Travellers recall the days when the horse was virtually a
member of the family and when life was led at the steady slow pace
reflected by the sound of hooves echoing along country lanes.
the day before hitching up and moving on, the caravan would be washed
down, harness cleaned, brasses polished and horses groomed. No one
who saw this proud cavalcade pass by would dare whisper the words
'Dirty Gypsies' under their breath.
horse drawn days came to an end in the 1960s when Gypsy Travellers
became motorised and the lorry and trailer replaced the old traditional
painted wooden Gypsy caravan. It was a pivotal time as the old ways
came to a close and the Gypsies embarked on a new journey which
would eventually lead to sedentarisation and fears for the very
survival of the Romany culture.
The 70s were dark days for the Romany Gypsies, there were not yet
any official council sites and the round of agricultural work was
Lorries and trailers were now the norm and for a while the horse
passed from the Traveller experience, but in recent years as the
Romany culture has begun to find it's feet in new circumstances,
horses are again very much in evidence.
Hear from Henry Elliot as he talks
about his horses.