It is said that raising miniature horses is like having “My Little Ponies” for adults except they actually have to be fed, watered, have a yard, small enclosure and occasionally some major veterinarian bills.
Although a small child can ride a miniature horse or they can pull a light weight cart the only other thing an owner can do is give it lots of love and attention or devote a tremendous amount of time and money in the show ring.
The price range for a registered miniature horse is $750 to $4000 and can go higher depending on the breeder and the line. If you don’t plan to show your mini then you can get a rescued horse with a donation of about $200 or there are breeders who sell non-registered mini horses for as little as $150.
Miniature horses are not Shetland ponies. First, to be classified as a “A” AMHA miniature they must not be any taller than 34″ at the withers, which is the point of the last hairs of the mane. The Shetland can be up to 42″ high but has been known to be as small as 28″.
The big difference is the body. The Shetland was bred to be used in the coal mines on Shetland Island so they needed to be stocky and muscular where as the miniatures are very small versions of a purebred horse. The females should look refined and feminine while the males are sleek and tailored. First popular in the 1850’s nobility or the rich bought them for their young children.
The miniature horses can be any color that the large breed has however, the Shetland pony can never be spotted.
Many breeders of the mini are into homozygous breeding which basically means that every baby from a certain mare and stallion will be the same color. If a black and white couple that have the pinto gene are bred then all of their babies will be black and white pinto. This system is very detailed and includes a series of blood tests and color pattern linkages with dominant and recessive genes through basic genetics. To get your herd into homozygous breeding takes time and careful purchasing from other breeders who have researched and done previous bloodtests.
One health problem seems to appear quite regularly in all the small sized horses, including the miniatures, is the tendency to founder. Even the very young ones if allowed to free range on rich grass or get too much grain can founder and possibly die. If you suspect your horse is foundering then the vet is the only option. They can medically treat the sick horse which includes clearing out the intestines and use of antibotics. This is very costly and when surgery is needed can cost up to $7000.
Loving the little horses is not hard to do but you must be prepared for the expense and the time to keep them healthy and happy. If taken care of properly they will live up to thirty-five years.