Miniature Horse is a unique and original breed and is a scaled down version of
a standard size horse.
The history is varied and traces its source back
to miniature horses used in England and Europe as far back as the 1700s where
they were used to pull carts in the coal mines. They were also bred by European
royalty as pets for their offspring.
During the 19th Century some miniature
horses were brought to America to be used in the mines in Ohio and West Virginia.
Many early breeders imported horses from Europe, especially England and Holland,
which helped to create the American breed as it is known today.
can be traced back to the Falabella Ranch in Buenos Aries, Argentina, South America
which was founded in the mid 1840's. This ranch was dedicated to breeding down
miniature horse from their larger cousins.
It wasn't until 1971 that the
first registry was sanction to register the worlds smallest equine breed - The
American Miniature Horse. After a request by a group of miniature horse breeders
to the American Shetland Pony Club (est 1888) asking to open a registry division
for the miniatures, the ASPC voted to establish such a registry. The American
Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR) was formed, and officially opened on the 1st January
1972, but would only accept miniatures horses not exceeding 34 inches at maturity.
The horses were to be perfectly formed and normal in function with head,
body and legs presenting a well proportioned, pleasing appearance.
open period of registration of foundation stock ran for two years until 31st December
1973 then only horses produced by crosses of registered stock were allowed on
to the register.
Some of the 'unknown' sires and dams listed on many foundation
miniatures may have come from the Shetland breed as many of the early Shetland's
were smaller than their modern day cousins. In fact, in the 1st ASPC stud book,
the average miniature height was a little over 40", yet a few of the early
registered shetland's measured only 28 - 34" tall, roughly a quarter of them
measured under 38" at the withers (last mane hair).
Later, in the
'70s, some of the breeders imported stock or tried to register unregistered stock
but found they couldn't as the register had now closed. New registries started
up and around 1977 the International Miniature Horse Registry opened on the west
coast and in 1978 the American Miniature Horse Association opened in Texas, others
followed but eventually either folded or were absorbed by the AMHA.
AMHA only recognises miniature horses up to 34" tall, however, in 1986 the
AMHR voted in a 'B' registry which allowed a 34 - 38" division of miniatures.
This 'B' division came about by popular demand from the members. Their reasons
were varied and included such things as, the gene pool was too small and new blood
was needed. Some breeders were getting dwarfs, some mares were having difficulty
foaling due to their small size, some breeders were getting excellent horses but
exceeding 34" and some wanted to start miniature horse racing with the larger
minis using mechanical riders.
Both the AMHA and AMHR have sanctioned shows
including the Nationals, where today's miniatures can be shown in halter and showman
classes, or compete in performance classes such as driving, jumping and obstacle.
Miniature horses are easy to handle and fun to show. Today's miniature
horses make wonderful family pets, because of their gentle nature and small size.
They are small enough for young children to safely handle and care for. Children
can learn how to care and look after miniature horses long before they are old
enough to handle standard size horses.
The larger 'B' size miniature can
be ridden by a small child and when they have outgrown the miniatures, the horse
can be trained to easily pull a cart or small wagon. Although miniatures can not
carry a large amount of weight on their backs they are very strong and can pull
two average adults in a cart. They are the perfect size for parades, fairs, exhibitions
Miniature horses can be shared at schools, nursing homes and parties
as well as in your own back yard. The elderly enjoy them as miniatures make a
good alternative to a full size horse which they may no longer feel physically
able to handle. There are even classes in which the physically disable can compete.
Even though the miniature horse is small they are equally as hardy as their
taller counterparts with regard to the weather. In the winter they grow woolly
coats to keep them warm then shed off to a sleek coat as soon as the weather warms
up. Miniature horses require the same care as the larger breeds with regular check,
de-woring, hoof care, grooming and dental checks. They require grass or quality
hay supplement with grain but not to excess.
The mares have the same gestation
period as the full size horse (11 months or 340 - 345 days average). You can own
a miniature horses without the need for large pasture or barn and for the cost
of feeding one large horse you can feed several miniatures for the same amount.
Miniature horses can provide as much fun and excitement as a standard horse and
yet be more economical.