By LYNETTE SOWELL The Belton Journal The “Gypsy Horses” are returning to Belton for their National Championship event, produced and managed by Gail Shrine Events, November 3-6, at the Bell County Expo Center. More than 100 of the best Gypsy Horses from coast to coast will converge upon the Expo Center and compete for the title of National Champion. Admission to the National Championships is free for spectators. The “Liberty” class on the first night, Thursday, November 3, starts around 6:30 p.m. and is always a big crowd pleaser. Two representatives enter their horse into the arena, and the horse is turned loose into the arena and covers the area, moving in the various gaits both ways, for about 90 seconds. When the music stops, the representative who walked the horse into the arena is the only one who can touch the horse and must halter the horse within two minutes. Most times they are successful; other times, some are not. The beauty is in the horses’ gait, charismatic movement, its animation, and utilizing the full arena. Events at the championship start each day at 8 a.m. The Gypsy Horse breed is a small draft type horses, and are fairly new to the United States, arriving here from the UK and Ireland in the early 1990s. The horse has thick double manes, thick tails, and abundant ‘feather,’ and are known for their calm and dependable temperament, and athletic demeanor. Horse trainers also enjoy working with this breed. “Their gentle nature and inherent desire to be around humans makes training Gypsy horses an absolute pleasure. We’ve had many that we can simply get on and ride from day one, as though they’ve been ridden their whole lives. That always impresses me,” says Windkiss Ranch General Manager and Training Director Scott Sarkozi. Bridlewood Farm Trainer Jackie Rollins said, “I love their versatility and willingness to please.” Wendy Lee, equine trainer and enthusiast, said, “When first introduced to this breed in 2009, I was immediately attracted to the wow factor and after years of training and showing them, this breed stands up to their reputation of being athletic, willing, versatile, and just an outstanding horse to work with.” With more than 10,000 registered Gypsy Horses in the United States, some compete in a variety of disciplines including English and western pleasure, dressage, carriage driving, ridden trail obstacles and trail-in-hand for those just starting out. Janet Jansen, owner of Windkiss Ranch and an event sponsor, has many present and past champions participating and said, “It’s a fabulous opportunity to make new friends and continue existing friendships at this annual event. While at the event be sure to watch for some of the barns who regularly attend and have attained many titles in prior years, such as Rod & Gun Club Stables; Gypsy Glory Ranch; Golden R Heart Ranch; Bridlewood Stables; Hanes Performance Horses; Starfire Gypsy Horses; Clarion Call Farm; Laughing Horse Farms and many others.” Courtesy Photo The Gypsy Horse National Championships will be held at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton Nov. 3-5. Admission is free for spectators at the event each day.