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Miniature Horses

Updated on February 13, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Miniature horses are trained as guides. Image courtesy of wikipedia
Miniature horses are trained as guides. Image courtesy of wikipedia

Miniature horses are not just a small horse, nor are they ponies. These diminutive horses normally retain the characteristics and proportions of a horse as well as the temperament. They have the intelligence and disposition of a full size horse yet are small enough that some people keep them as companion animals. In fact, some miniature horses are being trained as service animals for people that need that type of help.

There are more than thirty horse registries for miniature horses and ponies in the world. The requirements set by each one are a little different. Some make the characteristics of the horse a priority and others stress the pony characteristics.

If you are planning on getting involved with one of these organizations be sure that the association’s views of the perfect mini horse are similar to your own.

Characteristics of Miniature Horses

The American Miniature Horse Association states that all horses registered must have the following characteristics:

  • Less than 38 inches tall at the withers (8 ½ hands)
  • Sound and well balanced
  • Head must be in proportion to neck size
  • Any coat color is fine
  • Any eye color is acceptable
  • Must not show signs of dwarfism

There are over 100,000 miniatures registered with the AMHA. They continue to try to breed the smallest horse possible while still maintaining correct conformation.

Additionally, these tiny horses have sweet dispositions and are very intelligent and eager to please. Overall miniature horses get along with dogs, cats, chickens, and just about any other pet you may have. They love children!

Just keep in mind that these small horses have personalities and temperaments like anything else. Some horses may dislike dogs and be cranky around children, although this is not a normal characteristic. This usually occurs when the horse has been abused or mistreated in some way so be sure you know the history of the horse before you buy it.

History of the Miniature Horse

While you may think that the miniature horse is a recent edition to the world, it isn’t. As early as the 1600s tiny horses were being bred as pets for the children of European royalty. In the late 1700s they began to be used as working animals in the coal mines of Wales, helping the miners to haul out the coal.

One hundred years later these small helpers could be found in the American Appalachian coal mines doing the same difficult, and dangerous, job. The owners fell in love with the breed as did nearly everyone who came across them and in 1978 the American Miniature Horse Association was founded to bring a consistency to this interesting breed. The other major registry in the United States for miniature horses is the American Miniature Horse Registry.

Being part of a registry ensures that the breed will continue with its important characteristics intact.

Miniatures Horses as Service Animals

While there are a majority of people that raise miniatures as pets, there are a growing number of people that are training them for use by disabled people as guide, or service animals.

Because horses are intelligent and have a sweet disposition they are naturals in the service animal industry. They do not have the need to interact with humans that dogs do and therefore may be more focused on what they are doing. They are easily trained to be used inside and are small enough to transport in a car, just like a dog, yet are not easily distracted in crowds.

Other benefits of the horse as a guide animal are:

  • Few people are allergic to horses so they are a great option for those with allergies to dogs.
  • Horses do not get fleas, and they are easy to care for.
  • They live longer than other service animals, averaging 30 to 40 years or more.
  • Horses possess a natural guide instinct.
  • Horses are protective
  • They can be housebroken just like a dog.
  • They are quiet.

The Guide Horse Foundation is dedicated to providing service animals to those people who are legally blind at a cost that is affordable to them. In some cases this means that the horse is donated. You can read more about this amazing program on their website.

Caring for a Horse

Caring for a mini horse is not much different than taking care of a regular sized horse.  They need food, shelter, and fresh water, regular grooming and lots of love.

While these small equines eat less than a normal sized horse they are still grazing animals.  They will need the opportunity to be on pasture for some part of the day if they are to continue to be healthy.  Since they are small they make great natural lawn mowers in neighborhoods and subdivisions that allow them.  You will want to refrain from putting chemicals and pesticides on your lawn if you intend to allow your horse to graze there.  In addition the horse will need a little grain every day and his water must be kept clean and fresh.  Feeding patterns must be consistent or the possibility for colic exists just like in a larger horse.

The horse will need shelter form the elements.  A small shed or barn is perfect.  Horses do not have the same agility as a dog therefore a dog house is not a good choice.  Even if the horse is small enough to fit inside of it there may not be enough room for it to maneuver back out.

Horses of all sizes shed about twice a year.  Daily grooming including cleaning their hooves and brushing is important to keep them happy and healthy.  Yearly checkups with the vet and vaccines as recommended with keep your miniature horse in top condition.

Be Responsible

A horse of any size is a responsibility.  There are miniature horses that are abandoned, abused, and subjected to cruelty just like any other domestic animal.  This should not happen. 

Think through your desire to have an animal of any type.  Be sure that you will be able to care for it properly.  It is important that you be able to afford veterinary care as well as the other necessities of equine life. 

Owning a miniature horse or even a few mini horses is a dream come true for many people that would not otherwise be able to own a horse because of space and lifestyle limitations.


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    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Pat - they are quite expensive but you can google for miniature horse breeders in your state.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      how much does it cost annually to maintain a mini horse? I love the pintos! also how big should my area be in terms of yard and barn size?


    • vaqueraxoxo profile image


      7 years ago from NW Indiana

      Hi love this hub. I breed and train hypo allergenic curly ponies and we have been striving for the miniature size for several years for exactly this reason! Because the curlies are typically smart and people oriented,as well as less likely to cause allergies. But it is a very long process to breed down to mini size. This year we have our first small curly foal, we hope in two years to breed him to a true mini mare. Will post pics of him soon I just started a hub. Great informative page thanks for sharing this as most people aren't aware of this option for service animals!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      What a beautiful hub.

    • PaperNotes profile image


      8 years ago

      I think that all animals, big or small, must be taken care of and respected.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Im thinking of getting a mini does anyone no if they have health issues(like teeth,or hoooves,etc.)

    • myawn profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      This horse is pretty and cute. Do they bite or are they pretty calm?

    • profile image

      Natural Horsemanship 

      8 years ago

      It looks like donkey..

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very cool... now my daughter can have her pet pony... those things ROCK... what a great Hub...

    • dana825 profile image


      9 years ago from Chicago

      I love horses of all kinds and I've told my power of attorney that if I should ever go blind I am not to have a guide dog I am to have a guide HORSE! I wrote that specifically out... one of the perks of having parents as lawyers, you learn to make your contracts the way you want them.

      Do miniature ponies have better temperaments than shetlands?

    • Trisha's Artworks profile image

      Trisha's Artworks 

      9 years ago

      nice article....miniature horses...adorable...ive seen one in a movie called Racing your article...:-D

    • profile image

      kelsi moore 

      9 years ago

      I LOVE mini horses!!!!! they are sooooooo cute when you see them in person!!!!!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      9 years ago from East Coast, United States

      they sure are cute and the advantage over a dog or cat is that you can use their poop in your garden or on the compost pile!

    • The Real Tomato profile image

      The Real Tomato 

      9 years ago

      I think horses are the best therapy animal there is. My neighbor uses hers as a therapy horse at a nearby hospital in the children's ward. There is something endearing about them - being a horse is certainly one reasons but their size makes them more likable for a wider range of people. I did not know they where used as guides also! Much more versatile uses than I had imagined.

      I wonder - do you know if they are still concidered a large farm animal for zoning purposes? I am thinking about county regulations on how much land you must have per large farm animal.

      I particularly like your list of benefits in having a minature horse.

      For those into permaculture they are great to have around for their droppings aka fertalizer! (-:

      Enjoyed reading your Hub.-Marye

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      9 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Aya they get along very well witho other animals. What I mean by the statement that they don't need to interact with humans is that they are people pleasers. Horse love attention but won't seek it out from others... I guess the best way to illustrate that is the dog is the guy at the part with the lampshade on his head and the horse is the one cleaning up the dirty cups for the hostess so she wont have to later...does that make sense?

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      9 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Aya they get along very well witho other animals. What I mean by the statement that they don't need to interact with humans is that they are people pleasers. Horse love attention but won't seek it out from others... I guess the best way to illustrate that is the dog is the guy at the part with the lampshade on his head and the horse is the one cleaning up the dirty cups for the hostess so she wont have to later...does that make sense?

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      When you say they don't have the need to interact with humans, does this mean they don't like to be petted or nuzzled?

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Marye, very interesting information. How well do miniature horses get along with other domestic animals, such as dogs?

    • Joy At Home profile image

      Joilene Rasmussen 

      9 years ago from United States

      This is a cool hub. I'm in an area where livestock of all kinds is popular, but I was not aware that horses have been trained as service animals, like dogs. I wonder who thought of that? If she'd been smaller, I once had a horse that would have been very good at that type of thing.

    • Bill Beavers profile image

      Bill Beavers 

      9 years ago from California

      Very informative Hub. I wish I knew where to see some of these in my area. I've only seen them a couple of time ever. They are so special. Thanks again for your information.

    • GameOn profile image


      9 years ago

      I have never seen Miniature horses for real but they look cute in photos :)


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