Sir William Henry Dougan is one of the fathers of Western Horse culture in Europe. His authentic a-class-by-itself gipsy cowboy personality is a resource of western inspiration. He has the inviting ability to make people become part of the world of the American cowboy and his horse. William makes the West a real-life experience — makes you live the spirit. The real deal. He gets you in the saddle, and you bet you’ll love it. Life is a ride, and he makes you do it.
Over the years he has been both a mentor and a resource of knowledge and inspiration for many Western Equine athletes, trainers, riders, breeders, the recreational rider, the hobbyist, and for the whole family just stopping by. Before you know you'll find yourself on the back of a horse or watching your youngest riding a pony!
William combined the Romany Gipsy roots from his grandmother —Margret Patricia Mason— , the love for the horse of his father —Lord of Landkey, Wiliam John Dougan— , and his exceptional innate talent to feel and understand both people and animals. He is renowned for his gentle and patient nature and his one-of-a-kind riding lessons. When you ever have been taught by William, you’ll never forget the enriching experience. Often people confess that they take trail rides with William not just for the horse riding but for the lessons in life. His balanced mind and his remarkable view on many aspects of life make a trail ride with William an indelible journey.
Today Gipsy Horses is frequented by people of many nationalities and ages and has become a complete western center offering a wide variety of western horse experiences. From trail riding to kids and youth lessons, barrel racing, team penning, roping, pole bending, trick riding, all rodeo disciplines, natural horsemanship, showing, and even rodeo dance, rodeo clown training. and other Western Variety and Specialty events.
Sir William Henry Dougan is still sharing his teachings in various classes, he is also a coach for advanced riders and rodeo athletes and is a mentor for the younger generation involved in the management of Gipsy Horses Ranch.
In the late seventies, William made his first debute as a rodeo cowboy in multiple world champ bull rider Larry Mahan's rodeo revues. Larry was touched by the wittiness and willpower of this young cowboy and offered him a pathway to the American rodeo scene. William's father asked hs son not to leave for the United States. 'Build your dream with us here in Westerlo, and I will build you a ranch.' The rest of the story became a legacy — Gipsy Horses Ranch. Today, William is still actively connected with the American Western Heritage and Rodeo Industry.
(This poster was quite recently retrieved in California. It was used for the first Larry Mahan show in Belgium, Europe, where William was talent-scouted by Larry Mahan.)
This picture must habe been 1980 when Lord Landkey's Gipsy Horses Ranch was established by his family and himself. He did it all — breaking colts, training horses, trail rides, and foremost; attracting customers.
His characteristic appearance —always wearing a cowboy hat— made him the perfect ambassador for the ranch. Ladies felt attracted to him, and their presence on the ranch was the perfect magnet to get the male clientele in.
In low audience season, William purposely went out to dancings, bars and other places to find new customers for the ranch. And the story goes that some females even spent the night in their cars, to make sure to see William in the morning.
In an early stage, the ranch owned just one single cowboy saddle. As this was strictly reserved for customers William guided all the trail rides riding bareback.
Although his love for his family made him develop Gipsy Horses Ranch in Westerlo, Belgiium, William ofen crossed the ocean to compete in the United States.
This is most probably William's most famous photograph. It has been used on many flyers, brochures, posters, etc.. It was somewhat blurry from the moment it was taken, but became iconic.
William Henry Dougan
Gipsy Horses Ranch