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                                Home of the South African Miniature Horse

 

Question:  What is bigger than a bread box, but shorter than a yardstick?  What whinnies, bucks and rears, but thrives on a fraction of the feed that a full-sized horse requires?  Finally, what is rapidly stealing the hearts of young and old with its Lilliputian antics and flexible stabling requirements?  By  now, you must have guessed that what is being described is the Miniature Horse.

   

Conformation and Characteristics

There is some documentation that lends itself to the theory that Miniature Horses were a popular pet in the Renaissance period of history.  However, the modern Mini is more likely the result of diligent breeding in this century.

Over the last 25 years in South Africa, the breed has not only become smaller, but has also improved tremendously concerning overall quality and conformation.  Guided by a carefully designed breed standard, breeders have a definite path to follow.

The Miniature Horse must meet strict conformation qualifications that are designed to enhance the horse-like appearance of the breed.

The general impression that a registered Miniature Horse should give is that of a small, sound and well-proportioned horse.

The head of the Mini is in proportion to the length of the neck and body.  A broad forehead is desirable with large, prominent eyes that are set wide apart.  The ears should be medium size and be carried alertly so that their pointed tips curve inward.  There is a relatively short distance between the eyes and the muzzle.  Large nostrils and a refined muzzle with and even bit complete the archetypal head contour.

The rest of the Miniature’s body should measure up to the same perfection.  The throatlatch is clean and well-defined, allowing for ample flexion at the poll.  This breed possesses a fairly long and flexible neck, in proportion to its body.  In addition, the neck should blend smoothly into the torso at the withers.  Long, sloping and well-shaped shoulders allow a fee-swinging stride and support the alert carriage of the head and neck.

The Miniature’s body is well-muscled, with ample bone and substance.  It possesses a short back in proportion to the length of its bottom line.  The Mini’s hip, thigh and gaskin areas are distinguished by their length and certain degree of muscling.   The point of the croup should be even with that of the withers.  The tail set must be neither extremely high nor inordinately low, but should instead smoothly round off the hind-end.

When viewed from the front or back, the legs of the Miniature Horse should be set straight and parallel.  They should create a square with the horse’s torso and the ground when the animal is viewed for the side.  Ideally, the pasterns should slope up to the fetlock at about 45-degree angle, paralleling the slope of the hooves.  The hooves need to be rounded, compact and should point straight ahead.   The gaits that the Miniatures display are to be set off by their fluidity and ease of movement.

There are no color restrictions in the Miniature Horse breed.  In fact, at any given show or competition, one is apt to see the entire array of equine colors and coat patterns duplicated “in miniature”.

While Minis may possess all the behavior characteristics found in larger horses, a mild temperament must generally override any overt tendency toward aggressiveness.

 

Fun for the whole family

One of the most important requisites in a Miniature is an award-winning disposition.  Since the breed attracts youngsters like a magnet wherever it is exhibited, it is imperative that all the breed members be little “ambassadors of good will”.  Due to the Miniature’s size, none but the smallest of children can actually ride the animal.  However, that has not stopped adults from wanting to possess and show these petite equines.  Indeed, the breed has gained tremendous popularity as a halter and harness show animal.

Lower maintenance costs

Their handy size has attracted many first time buyers to the Miniature Horse market.  This may be due in part to the lower maintenance expenses.  These costs are estimated at R100-00 per month for combined feed, veterinary and farrier care.

People are perhaps overwhelmed at the prospect of handling and housing a Miniature Horse, but the same elements of horse husbandry should go into its care.  These include:

·        A balanced feeding program.

·        An inoculation and worming program.

·        Regular hoof trimming.

·        Fly protection.

·        Bathing and grooming.

·        Properly fitting tack.

Housing is another area that can be a source of deception.  No, it is not a good idea just to throw your Mini in the backyard with the canine crowd. Aggressive or herding dogs can grievously injure one of these small horses.  For that reason and for general safety’s sake, plan to keep your Miniature horse in a tightly meshed or railed enclosure with a shelter.  There, he will be safe from predators and the aggressive advances of any larger horses you might own.

 

Buying a Miniature Horse

If you are considering acquiring a Miniature Horse, you may want to begin your search by attending one of the Miniature Horse shows.  There, you will have an opportunity to see the best of what the breed has to offer, as well as all the fun that goes along.

Be forewarned, though.  Seeing so many of the small creatures at once will most certainly inspire you to want to have a Miniature Horse of you own.

 

  

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                             Revised: August 02, 2005