Not Even for the Queen

The last time I saw Gypsy was with her twin foals. Unfortunately my camera took a grainy picture.

For many Fell Pony breeders, it is a badge of honor to sell a pony to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Balmoral stud. For Joe and June Langcake of the Restar Fell Pony Stud, it’s a badge of honor that they wouldn’t sell. It’s not that Her Majesty wasn’t persistent. The Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s husband, spoke to Joe on more than one occasion. One day Her Majesty sent the Crown Equerry Sir John Miller to northern England. Sir John called June Langcake saying he was at the train station and asked if he could come out. “There’s no reason. The pony’s not for sale,” June replied.

Townend Mountain Gypsy IV was one of the foundation mares of the Restar stud. June picked her out as a foal at Eddie Wilson’s one spring. Gypsy died suddenly last winter at the age of twenty after producing a long line of quality foals, including a set of twins. Joe said all the stories about Gypsy came flooding back to him when he discovered her body.

Gypsy’s full sister was at Balmoral and had been trained for the Queen’s four-in-hand of Fells driven by the Duke. The Queen wanted another sister to her mare, hence her interest in Gypsy. And her receipt of an unexpected ‘no.’

The Langcakes showed Gypsy. In her first year alone, she attended seven shows and took five firsts. It was her last show, though, that the Langcakes remember most vividly. In addition to Gypsy, the Langcakes took three of her daughters. The judge was Bill Potter of the Greenholme Fell Pony Stud. Gypsy took Champion that day, with one of her daughters standing as reserve. The other daughters took first in their classes. It was a feat that Joe had always wanted to achieve, and after he did, he realized it would be difficult to repeat, so the Langcakes retired Gypsy from showing.

Two of Gypsy’s offspring are in the United States: Restar Bobby Dazzler and Restar Mountain Shelley III. I am pleased to have a Gypsy grandson standing at stud here at Willowtrail Farm. The Langcakes would appreciate any news about Bobby, as they haven’t heard anything since he was exported.

© Jenifer Morrissey, 2011

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About workponies

Breeder of Fell Ponies, teamster of work ponies, and author of Feather Notes, Fell Pony News, and A Humbling Experience: My First Few Years with Fell Ponies. Distributor of Dynamite Specialty Products for the health of our planet and the beings I share it with.
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