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Miniature Horse History

The Miniature Horse has a unique and fascinating history. Ancestors of the true miniature horse of today were first bred in the royal courts of Europe during the 16th century. Kings and queens of Europe included miniature horses in the royal stables as part of their personal fortune.

Prior to this historic period there is no record of a miniature horse breed.   As the great kingdoms of Europe began to decline, the miniature horses found their way into European traveling circuses. The breed almost became extinct. Fortunately, a few of the finest miniature's managed to survive and were scattered throughout the world.

  In the 18th century, Miniature horses in the English midlands and in Northern Europe pulled ore cars in shallow-seamed coal mines. These coal veins were very narrow and only about four feet high, so miniature horses were used. These miniature horses were of the draft type and extremely powerful for their height.

The first herds of miniature horses imported to the United States in the early 1930"s were from Europe. Electric motors were not yet available, so they were also used to haul coal cars up from the depths of mines in Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia. Miniature horses were still working in some mines in the United States as late as 1950.

Miniatures were also imported from England, Holland, Belgium, West Germany and Argentina. Another source was the breeders who selectively bred for a "smaller" horse from such breeds as the Shetland pony, several of which appear in the pedigrees of some miniatures today.

Although the breed is a height breed, meaning that a horse must measure no more than 90cm in height at the last hairs of the mane, they are judged on balance and conformation, just as the larger breeds of horses are.

  At maturity a miniature horse weighs approximately 80 to 130 kilograms and must be under 90cm when fully grown to be fully registered.  A miniature horse eats approximately one to three cups of grain a day and a small amount of lucern morning and night.  Also, miniature horses come in a tremendous variety of colors and have sweet dispositions. 



South African Miniature Horse History


South Africa's Miniature Horses were developed in South Africa and are known as the South African Miniature Horses, a recognized breed in its own right.

South African breeder, mr. Wynand de Wet of Lindley, started in 1945 with two Shetland mares and a stallion.  Through strict selection, their offspring become smaller and in 1991 mr. de Wet bred a mare that was only 66cm tall!

Today the smallest SA Miniature Horse is a little stallion of 65cm, also of mr. de Wet's breeding.  The modern South African Miniature Horse is a well-tempered little horse with good conformation.  They are not dwarfs or genetic errors, but scaled-down models of full-sized horses.



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                             Revised: August 02, 2005