A complete guide to mini horses
Miniature horses are known for their friendliness and love of human companionship. While they naturally exhibit equine behaviors and must be treated accordingly, mini horses are primarily kept as pets. In contrast, most other breeds are valued for their equestrian and horseracing potential rather than their companionship.
American miniature horses are descended from pony breeds selectively bred for their diminutive size, and are cousins of the dwarf miniature horses that were the fashionable pets of European kings and queens in the 17th century. Additional refinements to the breed took place in the United States in the 20th century, leading to its standardization.
Mini horses are primarily used as companion animals, though they can also be trained as service animals to help the blind or people with other physical disabilities.
Body Size: As measured at the withers, miniature horses cannot exceed 38 inches in height. Most healthy adults weigh in the range of 250 pounds. Their bodies are proportionally identical to their full-sized equine cousins, only with smaller dimensions.
Color and Patterns: Coats of any color are acceptable, according to breeding standards. Spotted tobiano coats, characterized by a base color with white patches on the body, legs and face, are also common in this breed. Appaloosa miniature horses display the leopard-like coat spotting, striped hooves and white facial markings that define Appaloosa horse coat patterns seen in other major breeds.
Caring for a Miniature Horse
Feeding: While mini horses require less in terms of horse feed volume, they still need to be fed twice a day with a diet of roughage and minerals, just as any other pet horse. Since miniature horses are rarely used in competitive athletics, you won't likely need to worry about special dietary regimens.
Grooming: Even if you fit your miniature horse with horseshoes, you need to inspect the animal's feet on a daily basis to check for signs of injury or infection. Brushing, coat trimming and mane care are a matter of owner preference; many horse owners choose to complete these tasks on an as-needed basis.
Health Problems: Leg, tendon, shoulder and respiratory problems are common in mini horses, especially as they age. Equine arthritis commonly sets in as the animal's age advances, as well. Dwarf miniature horses also frequently suffer from abnormalities in muscle and bone structure.
Life Expectancy: Mini horses are exceptionally hardy, with an average lifespan exceeding that seen in full-sized breeds. Expect a healthy miniature horse to enjoy a lifespan of about 30 years. The oldest horse on record was actually a dwarf mini, which lived to be more than 50 years old.
Locating Miniature Horses for Sale
Deal only with reputable breeders when seeking mini horses for sale. Contacting equine registries and local breeder associations will help you locate a suitable vendor in your area.
The prices of miniature horses for sale vary wildly. You might pay as little as $300 for a pet-quality animal, while horses from show champion stock can command tens of thousands of dollars.