Understanding Prefixes

by Dennis Thompson 

Dennis Thompson and his late wife Cindy are the founders of the GVHS

“I noted that your horses have “GG”, before their name, but I do not know what that exactly means”

Registered Prefixes

A registered prefix is a breeders statement of integrity, it is a name, word or letters, preceding a horses name that is purchased and recorded with the registrar of a breed society. It is used exclusively by the owner/breeder of the prefix for the purpose of marketing high integrity, DNA verified babies bred by them. 

A registered prefix stays with a horse for its lifetime

It is not acceptable to drop or not use a registered prefix in the naming of a baby that was bred by a registered prefix holder.  

 It is however acceptable to not use a non-registered/ marketing prefix,  explained below.

*REGISTERED PREFIXES are very useful if your breed association has a searchable online database which your Gypsy Vanner Horse Society does:

Your search of a prefix will group babies bred by a registered prefix owner together. It will also group non-registered prefixes together and currently you can’t tell the difference.

People who purchase a registered prefix will often devote lifetimes developing their breeding program so their registered prefix is their signature of excellence and commitment to genetic integrity.

To illustrate we will use Gypsy Gold horses because the farms history goes back to the first ever recognition and record keeping for a breed of horse developed by British/Irish Gypsies – anywhere in the world and by any name ( est. 1996 ).   

Darby Dolly & Bat

In the picture above, the horse in front is Darby Dolly, GV00002F. Behind Dolly is Bat, GV00003F. They were two years old in the photo and just imported.  Darby Dolly and Bat are the first two Gypsy Vanner Horses to ever step hooves on North American soil. They arrived in Newburgh New York from England on 11/24/1996.  There was no prefix system then and Gypsies (people) raised and named them both so their names are just Darby Dolly and Bat in the GVHS registry database. In addition Gypsy Gold, did not own their mothers.

When the prefix system was initiated by the GVHS, GG was purchased as the registered prefix for Gypsy Gold. In 2007 Dolly produced a filly named GG Velvet Doll, pictured above at 6 weeks old. GG Velvet Doll still lives at Gypsy Gold.   

GG Velvet Doll is pictured above at fifteen years old with Wallace the Macaw and a historical blanket of roses gifted to Gypsy Gold and signed by members of the GVHS.  There is a rose for every baby produced by Gypsy Gold from 1999 to 2016, many having the GG prefix in their names.

GG Kiss Me Kate

On 05/30/2013, GG Velvet Doll foaled a baby sired by VV King William (VV is the Vintage Vanners prefix, they owned his dam Tessa). That foal was named “GG Kiss Me Kate”.  The foal wore the GG prefix because her mother was owned by Gypsy Gold. Kate is pictured above. 

GG Kiss Me Kate was sold as a baby and then sold again to Rod and Gun Club Stables in Ardmore, Oklahoma – who purchased the GVHS registered prefix of RNG. Velvet and Kate will keep their GG prefix for life because they were both bred by Gypsy Gold. 

Then RNG, turned GG Kiss Me Kate into the winningest Vanner Horse in History, so Gypsy Gold loves that Kate will wear her GG prefix forever.

Do you see how important a registered prefix can be to a farm’s breeding recognition if the integrity of the prefix system is maintained as intended?

Because GG Kiss Me Kate is owned by the RNG prefix owner her babies will hold the RNG prefix, which will build equity in the breeding program for Rod and Gun Club Stables, and also for Gypsy Gold in the extended pedigrees of the babies produced from GG Kiss Me Kate.  

Pictured below is RNG Kate’s George Strait – a son of GG Kiss Me Kate. He is 2 years old in the photo and was foaled by the RNG prefix holder, but again the GG prefix is also in his pedigree.

RNG Kate’s George Strait is now owned by Jennifer Englund. Although George will always hold the RNG prefix, he will not pass it to his babies – only the mares he is bred to will do that. Those babies will have the prefix purchased by Jennifer Englund or the prefix of a mare owner that uses RNG Kate’s George Straight for stallion service.

One might need to read the explanation of a registered prefix twice to firmly wrap their head around how it works but it’s pretty simple, really. Mares are the queens of prefix programs – only they and the prefix holder who owns them determines the prefix the baby uses in front of its name. All prefixes are monitored/managed by the GVHS registry.    

A Prefix system is offered and managed by breed societies to demand heritage integrity and in time that integrity becomes a promotional tool for a farms breeding program / prowess / history. 

Babies with registered prefixes are DNA verified to be by the sire and out of the dam their pedigree says they are, and both parents are registered. 

The age of DNA offers a breed, breeders and buyers the gift of integrity. 


Registered Prefixes vs Non-registered Prefixes

The general public does not understand the “intent” or benefit of a registered prefix program, how a non-registered prefix is different, or how to tell the difference – but they need to! 


Using a prefix that is not registered does not require the parents be registered or DNA Verified.

They advertise a farm, without demanding the integrity of the prefix program, and have been allowed for years. Non-registered prefixes are currently displayed in the same way a registered prefix is in the GVHS database.

The buyer of a horse with a non-registered Prefix is not required to use the non-registered prefix in the name when registering the horse.


“The best way to succeed is to have a specific Intent, a clear Vision, a plan of Action, and the ability to maintain Clarity. Those are the Four Pillars of Success. It never fails!” -Steve Maraboli


Today, when a new baby is registered, the registrar of the society checks to see if the baby was out of a registered prefix holder mare.  If it was, the baby must use the registered prefix of the farm that owns that mare in front of the babies chosen name.  

That’s a good thing, it’s the rule and valuable to both the breeder, buyer and the society’s ability to manage breeder integrity. Both parents of a prefix baby must be registered and DNA verified.

(I believe photos of both parents should also be required, you are always buying the parents, you need to see them)

A registrar can just as easily take the time to identify a non-registered prefix and inform the person registering the animal that they are not required to use it, but can with an up-charge.

Currently non-registered prefixes are free advertising that confuse the efforts of the societies registered prefix program.

Again, the buyer of a horse is not required to use a non-registered prefix. If they want to – they can pay the up charge, have the seller pay it , or the extra up charge can be reduced or forgiven if the seller registers any unregistered parents and supplies DNA proof of heritage and photos of the parents.

If a horse is imported DNA proof of heritage and photos of parents is a reasonable thing to ask and expect. If an importer is a breeder they will have it, if they are a dealer buying from other breeders they can get it. If they are buying from horse sales or horse fairs chances are no one will have it, but at least you know what you are buying!

 That would dramatically increase the integrity of every purchase / sale and would help achieve two of the original goals of the GVHS. 

#1 to establish the breed with the look intended. (phenotype – photos support that goal)

#2 to establish the breed with the genetics that created the look, DNA verified.  ( genotype – DNA proof of heritage can be obtained)

 We are 26 years into this. Today it is always possible to get photos of parents and DNA proof of heritage, ALWAYS ! 


Another thing a registry can do to achieve high integrity and understanding of prefixes is to better identify them. A registered prefix should be in bold type and a non-registered prefix without bold type.

Imagine a pedigree with multiple generations of Bold Type DNA verified heritage with photos of every ancestor, all accessible on the GVHS database. 

The integrities inherent in a registered prefix program with those elements are very doable and would be tremendous for the Vanner breed, for breeders and for newcomers to the Vanner breed. 

Remember – a registered prefix holder pays to establish their prefix and by doing so they commit to heritage integrity, and today, most people don’t know it. 

Asking a non-registered prefix user to pay for advertising that requires no integrity or commitment and requires just as much labor is very reasonable.   

That would create more revenue for the society and influence a non-registered prefix seller to deliver higher integrity with every sale.   

All or most revenue earned from prefixes should be used to influence shows and for awarding  prize money to registered prefix animals and their breeders who win at shows. (that in itself would influence and help shows – it would be good for the breed and might get more people out enjoying their Breed.)

Registered prefix holders would benefit by breeding DNA verified breed specimens that win. 

Only shows that use and promote the breeds proper Gypsy Vanner Horse or Vanner Horse name would be eligible for the prefix dollar award program making them in compliance with the GVHS by-laws and Mission. 

Over night, shows would use the breeds proper name and the breed would win from increased clarity when they do. Buyers would seek babies from registered prefix holders to show and the breed would experience less confusion and higher integrity.   

Today, GVHS registered prefix holders are “BY FAR ” the largest sponsors and dollar supporters of shows. Without those GVHS registered prefix holders there would very likely be no shows!  

Today the tail (the show) is wagging the dog (the registered prefix breeder). This prefix program can put the tail where it belongs and when it does everyone wins. 

Managing an integrity based prefix Program so that embracing integrity is rewarded and the goals and by-laws of the society are embraced is a win for all.

Barbara Williamson of Shanandoah Gypsy Vanners pictured above.

Barbara owns the GVHS Registered Prefix of SGV. Barbara is riding WR Cool Hand Luke, Bred by Bill and Wendy Ricci of WR Ranch who own the GVHS Registered Prefix WR.

WR Cool Hand Luke is a DNA grandson of GV0003F Bat (pictured top) and a DNA son of Kuchi, America’s first Vanner Horse baby. Kuchi was bred by Gypsy Gold and sold to WR Ranch with integrity before registered prefixes existed.    


It is against the By-Laws of the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society to cause confusion to, or devalue the name Gypsy Vanner Horse. 

Today there are farms (Even with registered prefixes) who don’t call their horses Gypsy Vanner Horses or Vanners. There are shows and clubs that identify with the generic word Gypsy, a world that can be a slur (you Gypped me) – unless you use it to educate.

The words of the breeds original mission, also contained in the societies By-Laws, make a commitment to bring honor recognition and a better understanding to the people and the horses they dearly love, and we can do that!

Like American in American Quarter Horse, the world Gypsy identifies the special people of Great Britain and Ireland who live under the umbrella term Gypsy in those countries.

It was four types of people living under the umbrella term Gypsy who are responsible for the Vanner vision that created their Gypsy Vanner Horse breed.

Vanner: “a horse suitable to pull a caravan” – English Chambers Dictionary.

Vana: “a caravan horse” – Romany Glossary. 

The Gypsy Vanner Horse name and society are the worlds first to identify a selectively bred horse developed by British/Irish Gypsies as a breed.

Gypsy Vanner Horse is the only name founded on an in depth study of the people who live under the umbrella term “Gypsy” in Great Britain and Ireland and the Vanner vision (the perfect caravan horse) that created their breed. 

The name was painfully thought out and chosen over Romany Horse by every dimension of the Gypsy/ Roma/Traveler + community living under the umbrella term Gypsy.  

Those people are the Roma, Irish and Scottish Travelers, Didikoi and people who simply made a lifestyle choice.    

The GVHS is The Mother Stud, “First in the world” – nothing else is factual!  

The only reason other names exist, is because there is an Internet! Confusion breeds anxiety – Clarity attracts calm.

A quote worth repeating!

“The best way to succeed is to have a specific Intent, a clear Vision, a plan of Action, and the ability to maintain Clarity. Those are the Four Pillars of Success. It never fails!”   

For twenty five years, multiple and generic names have been a distraction to the Vanner Breeds specific intent (establishing it’s look), plan of action (Mission and goals), clear vision and clarity. (a prefix program that rewards integrity based clarity will help) 

Most registered prefix holders already embrace clarity and others will when a prefix program   makes the breeds vision clear and clarity is rewarded. 

Recap of  how to better manage REGISTERED and NON-REGISTERED PREFIXES for Integrity and Clarity


Registered prefixes are purchased. Adding say, $20.00 per registration to each prefix baby, is an opportunity to create revenue that rewards the integrity of the registered prefix program at shows

A bonus in time, would be to pay a registrar, who’s function then becomes accountable.  

  • Only babies out of mares owned by the registered prefix owner can use that prefix 
  • Registered prefixes are lifetime, even if a horses name is changed.
  • The parents of all registered prefix babies are registered and DNA verified. 
  • Photos of parents should be required , it would make the prefix program so much better.  The ability to post photos is already a function of the GVHS database, and not many use it.  
  • Registered Vanner Horses with prefixes would then have the highest integrity of pheno (look) and geno (DNA) type pedigrees humanly possible, and two of the original goals of the GVHS would be achieved !  
  • Registered prefix holders should support their society, its mission and by-laws by using the proper name of their breed Gypsy Vanner Horse or Vanner for short in all forms of exposure. ( most registered prefix holders already do – it’s the shows they sponsor who don’t support their clarity. This program would reward shows for embracing our mission and By-laws) 

A registered prefix program with a specific intent, a clear vision, a plan of action, clarity and rewarded integrity makes the Gypsy Vanner Horse Breed and all who love it safer.  Think of a prefix as a pillar for the foundation of your house.  Your house is your breeding program and the foundation of your breed. 


  • The GVHS should charge for using non-registered prefixes or something “less or not at all”. If both parents are registered with the GVHS, DNA verified and photos are supplied of both. ( revenue would come from those registrations)
  • Visually separate registered and non-registered prefixes in the database and on pedigrees with Bold Type so breed lovers can better navigate and understand pedigrees. 
  • Use a high percentage of prefix revenue (say 70 or 80%) to influence shows and reward registered prefix animals who win at them. (as the society grows, that can become a substantial dollar amount increasing breeder-show and shower integrity through reward and advancing a volunteer registrar position to a paid position). The concept will also add fun and excitement to the breed. 
  • Because the goal is to increase integrity not punish someone, it would be good to allow previous non-registered prefixes to become registered prefixes with only the offspring meeting the requirements of the registered program to be in Bold Type.  


Should bold type be added to the horses who fulfill the requirements of the program but don’t currently have a prefix in front of their name?

Example: Birthday Boy King – has a DNA verified sire and dam, both GVHS registered and both owned by the GG Prefix holder.

BB was born before prefixes existed. Can he now be GG Birthday Boy King, or just Birthday Boy King in bold type.

That would allow a breeder to increase their legitimate Bold Type on a pedigree while being in line with the intent of the prefix system.

It seems that would be helpful, with no downside!

How should a Suffix be managed?

Should it be not allowed or included in the prefix program?

What should fees be for each scenario?

Do you want your GVHS to implement this program after questions are answered? Do you have suggestions?

Share this post with the GVHS via E-mail ( registrar@vanners.org or gvhs@vanners.org ) using the link below.