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What is required for me to have a mini of my own?
The main requirements are pretty simple: Shelter, Water, Forage/Feed
While TOH/TLH does not care for adoptions, there are still costs involved in having miniature horses of your own.
There aren't any "set" limits on what size area one of our minis must have, there are lots of factors to consider. Something as simple as a 50x50 fenced in area, or as elaborate as an acre or two. Our placement team can help you determine what will work for your particular setting.
The fencing should be appropriate for a mini. What works for a regular sized horse does not always translate into working for a miniature horse. Miniature horses can roll underneath wire fencing, even if the fencing is "hot". They can open latches and push against unsecured fencing. We recommend No Climb Goat Fence (Red Brand) from Tractor Supply, or similar store. We also recommend having a wooden top rail and bottom rail as the minis will often push their hooves against the fencing in search of greener grass on the other side. A wooden top rail will help keep the fence from sagging over time. We also recommend securing it to wooden posts which are cemented into the ground.
The shelter should be appropriate for a mini, and there should be enough shelter available for the amount of minis a person has. The shelters can be anything from an elaborate prebuilt structure that is delivered to your land, to a used calf hut picked up from a farmer who is discarding it. It should protect from wind and rain, and should ideally face the south to keep the elements from entering the shelter. Shelters should be solid and ideally staked to the ground to prevent them from blowing over in a storm. miniature horses appear to like having options for relief from the sun as well. This can include something as simple as a tarp and some plywood or wood pallets, but should not be a replacement for a solid shelter.
Miniature horses are built for the MN weather. They get extra furry (think wooly mammoth) in the winter and don't require a blanket unless they are very old, very young or in poor health. They do not need to be inside, in stalls, they actually prefer to have the ability to wander in/out of a shelter as needed.
There should always be access to clean water - in winter this includes water that isn't frozen - a tank heater will work fine to keep an open area for horses to drink from.
There should be access to hay at all times, especially in the winter. Horses use the hay as fuel for their "furnace" by eating hay they are helping to keep themselves warm. You will likely need to increase the amount of hay you are offering in the winter months. We recommend quality grass hay - minimal alfalfa, no dust, no mold. Timothy or Orchard grasses are preferable. Hay will easily be the biggest expense you have. A group of 5 minis will typically go through two small bales of hay a week. Again, this can increase in the winter months. Hay can range anywhere from $5-$7/bale, depending on the growing season. The past two years have been difficult growing seasons and hay is averaging closer to $7/bale. This is an expense that is not avoidable. There are some resources out there for folks who might be struggling to find decent hay, or struggling with paying for it, but this is generally a one time basis. We recommend using hay bags - with 1x1 openings.
Most of our minis receive feed twice daily. Sometimes this is called "ration balancer", sometimes people refer to it as "grain". There are many different varieties. If you are adopting a horse from our program, we will assist you with their current feed program and nutritional needs based on the recommendations of our nutritionist.
Salt should be offered as well, especially during the winter months, as this will help encourage water intake. Again, this is something that TOH/TLH can assist anyone who is looking to adopt/foster, etc. with an appropriate plan.
Farrier is another unavoidable expense. Typically the farrier is needed every 6-8 weeks in the winter when the hoof growth slows down. Farrier costs are generally $50/horse per visit - the same as a regular size horse, no "mini" discount there. Because horses stand around all day, proper hoof and leg care is essential for their overall health. Miniature horses do not wear horseshoes. Horseshoes are used to protect the regular sized horses hooves from abnormal wear. Not everyone believes that horse shoes are essential for regular horses. The metal shoe is held on with nails. Miniature horse hooves are so small that the nails would likely damage the hooves. Some miniature horses that go on visits will wear Build A Bear shoes (the older ones, the newer models are shaped differently and don't work as well), however we typically wrap their hooves with vet wrap (thin stretchy/sticky ace wrap but with fun colors) to help with traction on non-carpeted floor.