What is a mini? Miniature horses are simply that - miniature versions of regular sized horses and are the result of centuries of selective breeding.
Miniature horses were first developed in Europe in the 1600s, and by 1765 they were seen frequently as the pets of nobility. Others were used in coal mines in England and continental Europe. The English began using small ponies in their mines after the Mines and Collieries Act 1842 prohibited the use of young children as mine workers. Shetland ponies were most frequently seen, although any small, strong ponies that would fit in the small mine shafts were used as pit ponies. They were brought to the U.S. in the 19th century to use in coal mine hauling.
Also called mini-horses, the miniature horse is not a pony because it does not possess pony-like characteristics, but is more horse-like in its body proportions and character. Though most of the bloodlines include selected Shetland breeding, miniature horses have the proportions, disposition, and other characteristics that make them phenotypically “horses,” not ponies.
Miniature horses are generally bred to be friendly and to interact well with people. For this reason they are often kept as family pets, though they still retain natural horse behavior, including a natural fight or flight instinct, and must be treated like an equine, even if they primarily serve as a companion animal. They are also trained as service animals, akin to assistance dogs for disabled people. Miniature horses are also trained for driving, equine agility, and other competitive horse show type events.
While most of the miniature horses in our program are not registered, we may have some enter our program that may have been registered somewhere along their journey to us.
Typically miniature horses are 38 inches tall or less. Some registries draw the line at 34 or 36 inches. Horses that are taller than this are typically classified as a "pony". If there were no size reference, the miniature horse might give the illusion of being a full sized horse.
Throughout its colorful past, the Miniature Horse breed has been bred for pets, novelty, research, monetary gain, mining work, exhibition and royal gifts.
There are dwarf miniature horses, however these horses generally come with many, many health problems and have a shortened lifespan.
The average life span of a miniature horse is 25-30 years.
When born, miniature horses are generally anywhere from 15-22 inches tall. Miniature horse grow to approximately 90% of their adult height by the time that they are a year old. Depending on their size, adult miniature horses typically weigh anywhere from 150 - 300 pounds.
Depending on size, miniature horses can run up to 45 MPH!
Miniatures can be any color, like full sized horses, Gruella, Tobiano, Pinto, Sorrell, etc.
Just like a big horse, miniature horses can bite. Part of the training for all horses in our programs receive, regardless of the role they play, is basic good ground manners. That being said, it's still an animal and can be unpredictable. Horses can nibble each other when they are grooming, playing, or showing affection - so a horse could try to also nibble a human to show they like you, but our goal is to teach them that this behavior is ok between horses, but not for humans.
Horses have different personalities, some are more playful than others, some are more laid back. Major is a silly horse and will play with whatever he can find and turn into a toy - balls, sticks, water hoses, etc. Kizz, meanwhile, loves to jump. We have some horses that we have worked with that are able to pull carts. We have some horses that enjoy walking in parades.
Small children can usually ride miniature horses, however, we do not have anyone ride the miniature horses in our programs. They are better suited to pulling carts than being ridden.