The first true breed miniature horses originated in Europe during the early sixteen hundreds. From the start these equines have become very popular within society. Miniature horses were mainly bred by the wealthy English royalty. There were many paintings and articles featuring miniature horses by the mid 1700's. Unfortunately, all miniatures were not owned and treated as pets, many of them were used in England as work horses in coal mines.
For a miniature horse to be classisfied as such it can not be any taller than 34 inches. These animals are very elegant and are a scaled down version of a large horse. The Miniature Horses of today are much more sleek and stylish, due to 400 years of selected breeding.
The ideal Miniature Horse of today, according to the American Miniature Horse Association's Standard of Perfection, must be small (standing at or less than 34 inches tall as measured from the last hairs of the mane,) must be sound, well-balanced, and possess the correct conformation characteristics required of most breeds. The general impression should be one of symmetry, strength, agility and alertness, with refinement and femininity in the mare and boldness and masculinity in the stallion-in other words, must be the smallest possible perfect horse. The Miniature comes in all possible horse colors.
Miniature Horses are seen in performance classes - halter obstacle, hunter jumper, showmanship, costume, liberty, and driving. A variety of driving classes are popular at the more than 250 AMHA sanctioned horse shows nationwide, and include pleasure driving, roadster driving, obstacle driving, single and multiple hitches and fine viceroy.
Because of their gentle, affectionate nature and small size, a Miniature Horse is also an excellent companion. They are often used as pets for young children, adults, senior citizens, and the handicapped. A small child may be intimidated by a large horse, yet that same child will show an eagerness to embrace and hug a Miniature foal. The foals are particularly lovable due to their small size, ranging from 16 to 21 inches in height at birth. Handicapped people have found the Miniature horse an excellent substitute for the full-size horse they may not be able to physically handle.
The American Miniature Horse Association, the AMHA, was organized in 1978 by a group of dedicated horsemen to develop a standardized American breed and to aid and encourage the breeding, exhibiting, use and perpetuation of the American Miniature horse.
The AMHA hosts a National Futurity each year in conjunction with the National Show. The Futurity was created to allow breeders to showcase their ability to breed and raise exceptional Miniature Horses. Purses of over $88,000 were awarded in 1996.
No bigger than a large dog, American Miniature Horses are "miniature" versions of well-balanced horses, possessing confirmation characteristics found in most equine breeds.
7 - 8 hands
All miniatures come in a variety of colors. Some of those colors are as follows:
Bay, black, buckskin, champagne, chestnut, cremello, dun, grey, grullo, palomino, perlino, pinto, roan, white.
Eager to please, the American Miniature Horse makes a gentle and affectionate companion for individuals of any age or ability.
Though petite, Miniature Horses are extremely versatile and excel in a variety of disciplines including driving, halter, jumping, obstacle and others.
So many times people refer to miniatures as being aggressive but they are certainly not that. Miniature horses are eager to please, very gentle and affectionate.
Nutrition For The Miniature Horse
The Miniature Horse has a delicate digestive system like all horses, and it is important that a regular feeding program be implemented based on the horse's use, age, condition and the time of year.
Feeding at a regular time each day along with gradual changes as needed in the diet will help prevent feed-associated diseases such as colic and founder.
For the average Miniature, a combination of legume hay, such as alfalfa, and oat hay provides an excellent source of the necessary protein, energy and vitamins. In addition, a trace mineral salt block and clean water should be available free choice.
For the working, growing, pregnant or lactating horse, additional energy and protein should be provided in the form of grain or pellet supplements.
By providing a sound nutritional program, your Miniature Horse can be expected to live a long and healthy life.
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers (FAQs)
( Obtained from www.amha.org)
Q. I've just purchased my first Miniature and would like to know what and how much to feed it.
A. Thankfully, Miniature Horses tend to thrive on pasture, sunshine and room to run and play. They are also prone to overeating, so it's important to monitor their nutritional needs and avoid excessive food intake. At the same time, you want to provide nutrition appropriate to your geographical environment and to your horse's age and activity level. We recommend a call to your veterinarian and to some of the Miniature Horse trainers and breeders in your area for information specific to your location.
I can fax you a copy of the breeders in your area from our current Breeders List. You might also want to visit our website where many breeders are listed. Another great source of information is the bi-monthly magazine, Miniature Horse World, provided as part of membership in AMHA.
Q. Is it okay to turn my Miniature Horse out with large horses?
A. Ideally Miniature Horses should share their own pasture. While Miniature Horses have been known to successfully pasture with large horses, doing so adds a real and increased risk to the Miniature. One friendly or not-so-friendly kick or bite from the large horse could significantly injure the Miniature.
Q. Do people ride Miniature Horses?
A. Miniature Horses should not be ridden by anyone over 70 pounds; however, Miniatures are extremely adept at learning to drive. Although small children are of the appropriate weight and many Miniature Horses are gentle and willing mounts, as with any combination of horse and child, caution is advised.
Q. What can you do with a Miniature Horse?
A. Practically anything you can do with a large horse (with exception of riding) including training, showing, breeding and having fun. American Miniature Horses are shown at halter, in-hand hunter/jumper, obstacle, showmanship, single pleasure driving, country pleasure driving, roadster, multi-hitch driving, liberty and costume. Because of their size, relatively inexpensive upkeep, gentleness and affectionate natures they also make wonderful equine companions.
Q. How much do Miniature Horses weigh?
A. An average adult may weigh between 150-250 pounds.
Q. Where did Miniature Horses come from?
A. The result of nearly 400 years of selective breeding, historians tend to support the Miniature Horse breed as a derivative of many sources. In prehistoric times small horse breeds were likely the products of surviving harsh natural climates and limited feed. Today, knowledge of genetics has made the possibility of breeding specifically for size a reality.
The first mention of a small horse being imported into the United States was in 1888; and research shows little public awareness of true Miniatures until 1960. Popular belief is that American Miniature Horses utilized the blood of English and Dutch mine horses brought into this country in the 19th century and used in some Appalachian coal mines as late as 1950. The American Miniature Horse, as documented in the pedigrees of Miniatures today, also drew upon the blood of the Shetland pony. Throughout its colorful past, the Miniature Horse breed has been bred for pets, novelty, research, monetary gain, mining work, exhibition and royal gifts.
Q. Do Miniatures have more reproductive problems than big horses?
A. Miniature Horses have been successfully reproducing for many years. Some deliveries, though, may be affected by the small size of a Miniature mare and, for that reason it is wise to not only practice good pre-natal care but to also monitor mares during actual foaling. Finding a veterinarian
familiar with Miniature Horse anatomy and reproduction is also very important.