MIDLOTHIAN — Gypsy horses may not possess the huge stature of a draft horses, but other than size the features are similar.

The full feathery mane and tail, and heavily fringed lower legs, along with an inquisitive nature, have made the breed especially popular since they began to appear in the U.S. in the mid 1990s. Today there are about 2,500 gypsy horses in the country. They are called gypsy horses because they were originally bred to pull gypsy wagons in Europe, said Midlothian horse owner Glenn Alexander.

“They are like big dogs – if they could crawl up in your lap, they would,” Alexander said. “They are very people friendly with beauty and personality – inquisitive and nosey.”

Alexander and his wife Jennifer are the proud owners of Wizards Spell Fiona – named grand champion mare at the Fort Worth Stock Show. In fact, the mare won 16 ribbons, placing between first and sixth place in every class against a field of 10 – 15 horses.

“I grew up in Midlothian and always wanted to show (cattle) at the Fort Worth Stock Show,” Alexander said. “I had never been in a show ring with a horse until the grand championship. I got to live out two childhood dreams and walk away on top.”

Alexander and his son, Ben, fell in love with gypsy horses when they attended a rare breed show about four years ago. When they purchased the mare, which is now about 4 years old, they weren’t planning on showing her. However, Alexander said his wife had always wanted to show horses. In fact, the couple met 20 years ago when they were both dog trainers. Animals were something they had always had in common said Alexander.

“I didn’t expect this to happen,” Alexander said about winning the competition. “We had a judge who fell in love with her.”

He said the judge came from the United Kingdom especially to judge the gypsy horse competition.

“I did take lessons prior to showing (the horse) with Julie Hinz out of Italy,” Alexander said. “I couldn’t have done it without her – she showed me how to have confidence in the ring.”

Wizards Spell Fiona isn’t some pampered show horse. She is a regular horse that runs in the pasture. Alexander said he and his wife just fell into the “show thing” and never imagined they would be doing it.

They plan to show the mare at the Ellis County Equine Association series in April.

Contact Rebecca at rebecca.hertz@wninews.com or call 469-518-1451.