Bill and Wendy Ricci's piebald (black and white) mare Kuchi occupies a special place in history as the first Gypsy Vanner born in America.

©Mark J. Barrett

The name "Gypsy Vanner" is a perfect fit. It refers to a horse selectively bred by the Gypsies of Great Britain and Ireland and the word Vanner is defined as "a horse suitable to pull a caravan". The ideal Vanner resembles a small Shire, with more feather (leg hair), a "sweeter" head (more refined) and more color, although the breed is based more on its sturdy conformation than color.

The breed owes much of its recognition to Dennis and Cindy Thompson, who brought the first Vanner horses to America and established the world's first registry for selectively bred horses, The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society.

Kuchi was foaled on March 18, 1999 and is the only offspring of the famous mare Bat. Bat and Dolly were the first two Vanners imported to North America, arriving on Nov 24th 1996. Kuchi's sire, The Gypsy King (the second stallion ever imported to America), was also immortalized as a Breyer model. The Gypsy King, Cushti Bok (America's first stallion whose name means good luck) and Kuchi's grandfather, The White Horse, were the best stallions the Thompsons found during their journey to learn about Gypsies and the Vanner breed.

Kuchi's Breyer model

When Kuchi was born, Cindy searched for the "perfect name" for America's first Vanner baby. Kuchi, she discovered, is the name of a Gypsy tribe famous for their appreciation of color, things that are structurally correct and the dance, The Hoochi Kuchi. Kuchi is colorful, structurally correct and like her famous father, she often dances when she walks; Kuchi was indeed the perfect name.

Since Bat is now deceased, Kuchi remains one of the closest sources of her mother's and grandfather's blue ribbon bloodline. She has represented it well, as a grand champion halter horse as well as winning performance classes in dressage, driving and all-breed competitions. Kuchi makes celebrity appearances, and her beautiful image can be seen in books and calendars.

Kuchi now has gorgeous foals of her own, all poised to perpetuate the Vanner tradition in North America.