Miniature horses have long been a favorite among equestrians and "non-horse" people alike. The tiny horses are just so cute, they capture the hearts of all who see them. How well do you know the miniature horse? Check out these fun facts about the world’s cutest equine! If you own a mini yourself, post a picture in the comments below!
#1 – They are not the first miniature breed.
While the American Miniature Horse may be the most well-known, the first and purest of miniature equine breeds is the Falabella – a truly pure miniature horse that has been bred in Argentina for over 150 years. Breeders only breed Falabellas with other Falabellas to keep the lines pure. They are descendants of Andalusian and Spanish Barb horses. (falabellafmha.com)
#2 – There's no single official registry.
While most breeds only have one or two associations that preserve the breed’s standards, the miniature horse has many. The Guide Horse Foundation lists 20 of the registries for minis, each with their own set of rules and regulations for registration.
#3 –They (mostly) come from Shetland pony blood.
While each registry gives a slightly different history of the mini, the general consensus is that small horses were mainly developed during the 60s and 70s from Shetland pony blood. Though there were cases of smaller horses before then (Falabellas and dwarfed ponies), they weren’t really popular until American Shetland breeders started to purposefully breed for the smaller size.
#4 – They're used as guide horses.
While dogs are the “norm” for guide animals, more and more people are using miniature horses. It’s a great alternative for someone who's allergic to dogs, or who just prefers a horse. Want more information? Check out the Guide Horse Foundation.
#5 – Their coats come in many colors.
The miniature horse comes in literally hundreds of coat colors, from solids to pintos, and even leopard appaloosa patterns. They just might be the most diverse equine species when it comes to color. Some shows even hold a class for the most beautiful coat.
#6 – They are the strongest horse.
In terms of pulling capacity versus sizes, miniatures horses are stronger than draft horses. They can pull up to 3-4 times their weight.
#7 – There is some debate about what makes a miniature a "miniature."
Since the two largest registries were founded in America – the American Miniature Horse Association and the American Miniature Horse Registry – there has been a debate about size. The AMHA believes, quite staunchly, that nothing over 34” should be considered a miniature horse. The AMHR has two height divisions, one for 34” and under and one for 34” to 38” horses. Breeders and owners can be quite adamant about their side, just check out this telling quote from TheMiniatureHorse.com:
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In 1978, The American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) was formed. It is now the only registry in existence that deals exclusively with true Miniatures, 34 inches and under. Ponies over 34 inches are not considered Miniatures; they were not in the beginning, and they are not today (excluding the AMHR miniatures that measure 38 inches and under).
#8 – Height is not measured at the withers.
While standard horses and ponies are measured at the top of their withers, miniature horses are measured at the last hair in their mane.