The Miniature Horse
 By Caledon98   •   7th May 2016   •   2,238 views   •   4 comments

When most people think of Miniature horses, they think of little rotund Thelwell type ponies, super cute, but the spawn of the devil. However, a lot has changed since Mr Thelwell first published the images of the naughty but inquisitive ponies bucking the poor children off. These days in New Zealand, Miniature Horses are described as small, sound well balanced horses falling 38” and under in height. They must have the conformation desirable of most breeds, giving the impression of being full sized horses, not ponies, if there were no size reference. Miniature horses are a ‘height breed’ meaning they can be any breed of horse (Shetland, Falabella, etc) as long as they meet the height requirements of 34” and under for Category A or over 34” but no higher than 38” for Category B.

There are many stories in relation to where Miniature Horses came from, whether it was selective breeding or them being descendants of Pit Ponies. A London Magazine in 1796 published articles about the importation of a “tiny black stallion measuring only 30 inches” from Bengal and a “little mare only two foot four inches high” from the East Indies. While these reports lend some idea that Miniature Horses came from Europe where they were bred to pull carts for royalty, there are no records to confirm this.

What can you do with a Miniature Horse
Their full history may be unknown, but it doesn’t stop these horses from being truly special. Miniature Horses make perfect pets and companions for people young and old due to their size and kind natures. Miniature Horse shows are run throughout the world, from America to Europe to Australia to New Zealand. Classes at shows range from halter classes where horses are judged on their conformation and type, to harness, jumping and obstacle.

Miniature Horses can also be great therapy animals due to their gentle disposition and friendly natures. Gentle Carousal Miniature Therapy Horses, in the USA, gives a hint of how these horses truly are. They are bred very small however do not possess dwarf characteristics thanks to their knowledgeable breeders. Gentle Carousal Miniature Therapy Horses brings sunshine into young and old or ill and injured people’s lives.

Caring for a Miniature Horse
Although Miniature Horses are small, they are still horses through and through.

Due to their small stature, they are easy to overfeed. They should be fed, depending on their work regime, a low starch feed with a supplement providing the necessary nutrients at the right amount (check the back of the feed for size) for their weight. A lot of Miniature horses are susceptible to obesity, laminitis, grass allergies, or founder so the horses should be fed adequately to counteract the chances of these.

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Like all horses, they need their teeth checked annually, their hooves trimmed every 6-12 weeks, worming, suitable feed and hay, a companion (another horse), to be covered when cold, room to move comfortably and to have vet visits when needed. They are easy to look after and relatively cheap to feed. One quarter acre per Miniature horse is plenty enough room for them to happily graze and move around, compared to 1 acre each for their larger cousins.

The Modern Miniature Horse
The modern Miniature horse is a lot different to the Miniature Horses our parents or even ourselves used to ride as children.

It is a goal for many breeders to produce horses with perfect Arabian or Thoroughbred type conformation into a small frame, and American Shetlands are helping to reach this goal. American Shetlands are more refined than the typical English Shetland, displaying more full horse characteristics such as a larger length of leg, a longer neck and small head and a proportionate body.

The Miniature Horse

These horses are taking the Miniature Horse world by storm, with most successful show horses now being American Shetlands or American Shetland derivatives. However, there is still a place for our beloved classic Miniature horses, with many associations now developing types into the rulebook so the older typed horses still have place in the halter ring.

Whatever the type, these horses are beautiful animals and are hard not to love. Whether you're showing, breeding or keeping one as a pet, they will always bring a smile to your face and lighten up your world.

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Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Caledon98
Ruby Creek Ranch  
Ohioan Miniature Horse owner/breeder here.

Shetlands are not taking over the Mini horse world, at least not here in the US, as they are separate breeds. And here in the US the most "desired" heights are between 31-33", much smaller than a Shetland, with an Arabian body type and confirmation.

Here in the US not just any small horse can be a registered miniature. They have to come from parents that are BOTH registered miniatures (not Shetlands, Falabellas, etc.) from a specific registry. For example, a stallion registered with the AMHA and AMHR (American Miniature Horse Association, and Registry, the two main registries in the US) could only produce a registered miniature foal if he was bred to a miniature mare who was registered with one or both of those registries (for example, if the dam was only registered AMHR the foal could only be registered AMHR).

The AMHA only allows A sized miniatures to be registered (not exceeding 34" at the shoulder) and the AMHR has two separate ca
  10 days ago  •  2,330 views
Hi Narcissi - Just to be clear I am talking about the New Zealand Miniature Horse. The New Zealand Miniature Horse Association accepts transfers from approved registries.

The Miniature Horse is a height breed so therefore horses from approved registries 38" or under (Cat B) are allowed to be registered as a Miniature Horse.
  9 days ago  •  2,345 views
Ruby Creek Ranch  
I know you were, I made my post to show the US standards as they are different :)
  6 days ago  •  2,281 views
Ruby Creek Ranch  
Whoops! I just realized when I was talking about AMHR I said they register minis from 24-28" when I meant to say 34-38" :)
  4 days ago  •  2,270 views
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