Most people would never buy miniature horses for their homes because they think minis are hard to care for, and that’s not true at all. We agree that, like all things, minis also require care and attention, but it’s less than you think, and that’s where we come in.
In this comprehensive guide to miniature horse care, we’ll look at how to physically care for mini horses, and what we should know about their healthcare. Following that, we’ll help you with some essential supplies you’ll be needing, and costs associated with them.
Let’s get right into it.
What Are Miniature Horses?
Miniature horses are smaller versions of normal horses. They have all the characteristics of fully grown horses but are smaller in size, and are commonly called ‘minis’.
Most equestrians love keeping miniature horses because they have a sweet and friendly personality. They’re also relatively easy to train and don’t occupy a lot of space.
Most people keep minis because they make great assistance animals. However, you cannot ride a miniature horse, so if that’s what you wish to do, buy a regular horse.
Their height, up to the withers, isn’t usually more than 38 inches—that’s barely the height of a kitchen island!—and weight is between 180-200 pounds. With well-proportioned bodies, stout and sturdy legs, minis come in black, grey, sorrel, pinto, brown, and bay coat patterns.
Miniature Horses Origin And Breed History
Are miniature horses the result of some modern lab experiment? Not by a long shot. In fact, the miniature horse origin story is quite an old one: in the 1700s, miniature horses were used by the European and British royalty and nobility for different purposes. These different purposes included pulling carts, performing in circuses, and companionship.
Interestingly, the French Emperor Napoleon’s wife is said to have a mini pull her cart, while all the royal children played with them in their free time.
Most of the minis that you see today are the result of careful breeding over many centuries. They have the Shetland Pony, Arabian, Quarterhouse, and Welsh Pony genes in them.
Though in the early 19th century breeders exported miniature horses to the U.S. to work in coal mines. By 1978, their population swell, and American Miniature Horse Association was established to keep track of their breeds and set guidelines for their registration.
Physical Care For Miniature Horses
Now that you know the basics about minis and their origins, let’s move on to miniature horse care and feeding. Like all animals that people choose to keep as pets, minis also need your love and attention.
The great thing about miniature horses is that they have an average life expectancy of thirty years—yes, thirty years!
So, if you invest your time and energy into taking care of your miniature horse, you’re going to enjoy their company for a long time. That being said, what is this miniature horse care guide going to tell you? Let’s see.
While miniature horses don’t need as much space as normal-sized horses, a rule of thumb is to keep a ¼ acre for each miniature horse to play around in.
You’re also going to need a stall for your mini. Make sure that it’s well-ventilated and built according to its height: the feeders and gates should be comfortable for your mini.
You will probably need to get these stalls custom-built as stalls for bigger horses are not suitable for miniature horses. In addition, before letting them free to graze or play, make sure that there’s no space in the fences that a miniature horse could escape through.
Miniature horses typically need 1-2% of their body weight in forage or hay to maintain healthy body weight. However, they are notorious overeaters, and if overfed, they can develop health problems such as colic, obesity, or laminitis.
To ensure that your mini is healthy, limit their access to early spring pastures or when the grass is long. Miniature horse feeding habits should be taken care of, otherwise, they will graze far beyond their need.
A good way around is to feed your mini two times a day and to make sure to include some grains in their diet for a healthy gastrointestinal tract. All in all, a critical tenet of miniature horse care and feeding is that they need to have access to a lot of clean water at all times to maintain a healthy physique.
Grooming mini horses is the same as grooming any other horse. Just grab grooming tools like combs, hoof picks, and brushes to work your mini’s coat such that no dirt remains.
It would also be a good idea to contact a registered farrier and ensure that your miniature horse’s hooves are well taken care of.
However, be careful that bathing your mini too much strips their coats off their beneficial natural oils. If you see flies swarming around your miniature companion, just ask the vet to recommend a high-quality fly-repellant that you can spray on its coat.
Healthcare For Miniature Horses
Due to their unconventional physique, miniature horses are at more significant risk for some painful diseases and conditions. As owners, you’ll need to be vigilant about their weight, food, exercise, and water intake to make sure they lead a healthy life.
So, what are some common health problems faced by miniature horses, and what can you do about them? Let’s find out.
Just because your miniature horse is cute as a button doesn’t mean you overfeed them. As mentioned earlier, minis only need 1-2% of their body weight in food, but if you leave them to graze on their own, they’ll end up consuming an amount much greater than that.
Since these animals do almost no physical work, they don’t burn as many calories as their normal-sized counterparts. This situation leads to obese minis who become vulnerable to a variety of serious illnesses.
Normal miniature horses weigh in a range of 200-250 pounds. Weigh your mini regularly to check for fluctuations in weight. If you see them steadily gaining weight, switch their grassy paddock for a dry one.
Some other options you might wish to consider are muzzling your mini, using a hay net to slowly feed them hay, or switching them to a ration balancer pellet.
Hyperlipidemia is a condition characterized by a fatty liver. It occurs when there is excessive fat deposition on the liver. It usually occurs when the miniature horse is feeding excessively without any exercise.
So, how will you know if your mini has it? By recalling miniature horse feeding habits, of course. Minis feed voraciously, so a decreasing appetite is an undeniable warning sign for some severe health conditions.
They might also have abdominal pains, incoordination, a jaundiced appearance, and seizures. They will need immediate veterinary attention, or the situation could escalate to a ruptured liver and death. Fortunately, timely intervention can lead to a full recovery.
Another problem that minis typically face is sand colic. It occurs because they eat quickly and tend to ingest a lot of dirt and other foreign particles along with their grass and hay. These things lead to indigestion, pain, diarrhea, inflammation, and obstruction.
Owners combat this condition by using feeders that prevent the ingestion of debris by the mini. In addition, some owners administer psyllium to take care of sand colic in their pint-sized horses.
Miniature horses are also more prone to dental problems than other horses. This condition is because they have the same number of teeth as larger horses but in a much smaller skull. This situation leads to underbites and overbites, which may cause uncontrolled salivation and trouble feeding.
Sometimes, some minis also end up retaining their baby teeth, which causes overcrowding. Some of these situations require extractions that you’ll require a vet to do.
So, how can you care for your mini horses to minimize such risks & be proactive? Let’s see.
Supplies To Care For Miniature Horses
Caring for any animal means several trips to the pet store collecting all the supplies you’ll need for their care. The same goes for keeping miniature horses. However, almost all miniature horse breeds require the same supplies, so you don’t need to worry about getting different supplies for different minis.
Feed tubs and buckets for food and water, respectively, are essential things that you’ll need for miniature horse feeding and care.
You might want to invest in feeders that prevent debris from getting in to prevent sand colic.
As mentioned earlier, it’s essential to brush your mini’s tail, mane and coat. You’ll need a dandy brush, curry comb, tail comb, and a hoof pick to take care of your horse’s grooming needs adequately.
Halters typically help the owner lead or tie the miniature for any purpose. You need to buy a durable halter that your mini is comfortable in. Even if your horse came with a halter, it’s a good idea to keep an extra one handy.
As mentioned earlier, avoid bathing the mini every day if you see flies swarming around it. Instead, use a fly repellent that’s safe to use around horses to get rid of the pests.
While your vet may recommend some other accessories for your mini, these are the basic supplies that you’ll need to keep a mini.
If you live in a place that sees moderate to warm winters, you don’t need to buy a winter blanket for your mini. However, if your city sees harsh winters, it’s vital to get your mini fitted for a blanket that’ll keep it warm through the cold months.
We hope this little list has helped prepare you for all the things you’ll need to buy for your little horse.
Cost Of Caring For Miniature Horses
Miniature horses typically sell for anywhere between $800 to $5,000. Their prices depend on their age, appearance, and if the mini has been in shows. That being said, you’ll need to spend some money to maintain your mini’s health and appearance, feed it and provide it with shelter.
Here, we will break down some basic miniature horse care costs. Let’s dive in.
Miniature horse feeding will cost you about $25 a month. That amount usually covers the hay or grain that you’ll buy for a fully-grown mini. However, if your miniature horse grazes on the pasture, this amount will be even lower.
If you’ve kept regular horses a lot, you won’t think about farriers that much when getting a mini. However, farriers are a huge part of miniature horse care as these little horses are more predisposed to hoof problems than their bigger counterparts.
To make sure that their hooves are trimmed and functioning well, you’ll need to call a farrier every month or so. It generally costs around $20 to get your mini’s hooves trimmed.
Deworming And Supplements
Like full-grown horses, miniature horses also need to be dewormed every two months. One tube of dewormer costs about $3-$12. Some minis may also need supplements due to health problems or nutritional deficiencies, which might cost you anywhere between $15 to $30 a month.
If your miniature horse is a healthy one, you’ll only need to take it for routine checkups once or twice a year. Each routine checkup generally costs $100. However, it may cost you more if your mini has any chronic health problems.
Cost Of Accommodation
If you already have a barn, making a home for your mini won’t cost much. However, you’ll need to maintain it and keep it clean. This endeavor may cost you up to $150 a month.
Another option is to board your miniature horse elsewhere. Boarding a mini may cost you anywhere between $300 to $700 per month, depending on your horse’s requirements.
Well, we hope this guide to miniature horse care costs gives you an idea about the kind of money you’ll need to spend to keep your mini horse healthy and happy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Caring for Miniature Horses
So, what do people want to know about minis? Let’s see.
Miniature horses are easy to train and care for, as they’re even-tempered and friendly animals. Unless they have serious health concerns, they don’t even cost a little to keep. Their friendly attitude is the reason why many people keep miniature horses as service animals.
Generally, you can’t ride a mini horse. Unless it is a small child, miniature horses cannot bear the weight of human beings as their legs and body are not as sturdy as a grown horse’s. If you wish for a small horse to ride, a pony would be a better fit for you.
Yes, minis can be service animals. Although dogs are commonly assigned the roles of service animals, miniature horses can do the job just as well. Since they have a better build and are less excitable than dogs, they can easily support people with visual or physical impairments.
Can a miniature horse live in a house?
Some minis can be trained to live in a house to assist a special needs person, though most minis need adequate space to graze and wander around. However, some people house their minis in barns to give them adequate space.
Minis typically grow to their adult size in a little over a year. They typically attain a height of fewer than three feet and weigh anywhere between 150-300 lbs.
Well, these were some of the frequently asked questions about minis on the internet.
Those who keep miniature horses know that they are a delight to be around. These smaller, chubbier versions of regular horses come in various colors and can be the best companions to you whether you want a farm assistant or just an equine friend.
However, it is vital to know the basics of miniature horse care before adopting them as pets. By knowing everything about their care and feeding, you’ll be better prepared for their needs and wants.
We hope this miniature horse care guide helped you – read more about horses here.