This remarkable piece of authentic history was not only the start of William Dougan, the European Cowboy-Entrepreneur he is today — ultimately it was the very take-off of the western horse & cowboy spectacular industry in Europe.
Gipsy Horses started to perform cowboy spectaculars and rodeo acts both at what is today Gipsy Horses Ranch in Westerlo, but also on location. The Gipsy horse legacy became a source of inspiration for many western riders, western sports athletes, trainers, performers, and western equestrian practicing enthusiasts.
What started as a rarity in the late seventies became a fully fledged equine community with about about 20,000 western horses in Belgium only. Gipsy Horses Ranch in Westerlo, Flanders, is considered the most important western experience center in Europe that yearly inspires thousands of enthusiasts with western equine, experience, practice, sports, and entertainment. It inspires and educates young people to actively connect with the western equine culture. Also young talents on their path to western equine careers in a European area that in the meanwhile produced world champions -both in open and in amateur classes. Gipsy Horses Ranch also demonstrated how beneficial the core western spirit can be. It's the art of man bonding with his equine partner on their life path and building confidence — whatever happens. We always stay in the saddle or even bareback and when we fall off, we get up again. Lessons in balance and unparalleled cowboy contentment. In what may look like a modest cowboy ride, a universe of inner peace and spiritual friendship with the horse is found. In GHR's program also activities for people with disabilities have been consistently present.
Today the European western industry is still growing with a wide range of classes and disciplines. Its versatility may illustrate the fact that it's all built on one basic idea the love for the horse, the freedom of mind and the Western traditions
—And this all started with a young man, a hat full of dreams, and another cowboy who gave him a chance, his friendship and a welcome to the world of the West.
Thanks, Charles (1951 - 2022)
You cowboyed your untamed herd of inspiration over mountains, oceans, and seas, it was a unique honor being in the saddle with you.
The Dougan Family and Gipsy Horses Ranch wish to express their gratefulness to all involved in making the immense ride possible — the impressive trail that stretches from the early days all the way up to the most promising tomorrows of Western Equine Culture beyond the constraints of borders ,languages and in eclectic harmony with local cultures. The good hearted cowboy opens every door.
Article by Rik Raats. Thanks to Lori Brown Andrews, Dwight Miller, and Clay Maier for their help, archives and photo collections