ABC's of Miniature Horses
About, Breeding, and Care
The same 25" yearling miniature horse before and after being clipped. The cream color turned back to golden a couple of weeks after being clipped. Pictued at right-3 years later, She matured at 29" and her first foal was even smaller than she. The foal appeared to also be a palomino but later turned grey. The Sire of the foal was Sorrel, Grandsire was Grey. The Horse is now 3 years of age and has turned black with a silver mane and tail; a highly unusual color. Miniature Horse Colors
The exact origin of the miniature horse is often a matter of speculation. Many people believe that the first miniature horses were a result of the very small icelandic horse that is said to be very small in stature because of the very cold and harsh weather in Iceland. There coats are naturally very thick to protect them from the elements. Many of the miniature horses in the United States and in other countries grow very heavy coats that require that they be clipped in the Spring. However, most miniature horses by the age of two or three shed off their coats naturally when the months become warmer and have the same shiny coat as a full size horse.
Miniature Horses were said to have been bred in Europe to become pets of the children of Royalty.
Miniature Horses were supposedly first used or bred in the United States to be used to pull coal from the mines because of their very stout conformation and ability to pull loads many times their own weight. Moorman Field of Bedford, Virginia is accredited by many as being the first true breeder of miniature horses in America. According to his son, Tom Field, Moorman bought many of the tiniest horses or "pit ponies" as they were called, when the mines when to automation and began breeding them down to a miniature size. Moorman also brought imported miniatures from Holland because of the unique colorations. Today, miniature horses most likely have the widest color variation of any equine breed. There are Pintos and Appaloosas, as well as solid colors that include Buckskin, Chestnut, Palomino, Grey, Sorrel, Black, White, Duns, Roans, and Bay. Silver Dapples are also very evident in the miniature horse breed.
McCoy Smith of West Virginia was also a widely acclaimed early miniature horse breeder.
J. C. Williams of Dell Tera Miniature Horses in
South Carolina as well as many other significant American
Breeders of Miniature Horses often brought imported miniature
horses into the United States to enhance their breeding programs.
Their farms are well-known throughout the world as the producers
of the some of the finest and smallest miniature horses
ever bred in the United States.
The Falabella Miniature Horse of Argentina may
well hold the most prominent place of miniature horse recognition
because of the early concentration of breeding a miniature horse
that was a true counterpart of a full-sized, very refined horse.
Highly-Prized Falabella Miniature Horses have been shipped
all over the World!
The coal-carrying days are over and now and the much more refined miniature horses often enjoy being driven with pleasure carts, roadsters, and even racing sulkies. Mature miniature horses that are at least 3 years of age and are under 34" are considered "A" Division Miniature Horses, and those that are over 34" up to and including 38" are considered "B" Division Miniature Horses. Miniature Horses are often shown in teams and participate in many events including parades. Even Santa Claus may be seen driving a team of Miniatures in a Christmas Parade.
Only very small children, that weigh 40 pounds or less should ride an "A" Division Miniature Horse, while a taller, and usually more muscular, "B" Division Mini can usually carry 60-80 pounds. The child's weight and height as well as the age, height, and conformation of the mini should always be a consideration when training or riding a miniature horse.
Many youths that ride have graduated to a Show Pony (over 38" up to and including 48"); sometimes thought of as an oversized "B" Mini, that often has the quiet gentle temperment of a miniature horse but is closer to a pony size. Often, Parents and Guardians prefer this size to a larger pony for a small child.
A number of pintos and appaloosas have been bred down to the Miniature Horse -Size from the Show Pony-Type.
Shot of a Foal through the fence at the
2009 WCMHR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MINIATURE HORSE SHOW
Photos taken by Photographer
David Bell of the 2009
WCMHR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
are available to view and or purchase
Breeding and Care
Mares should be 3 years of age or older before
producing. The same considerations mentioned above apply to
Good Quality hay (alfalfa, timothy, orchard grass, etc.) and feed are necessary to produce the best miniature horses. Breeding miniature horses requires a substantial investment as well as the breeder's time, especially during foaling season; which is usually March-June, depending upon the climate and location. The natural breeding season seems to be tied to the hours of daylight and as they days become longer and brighter, the chances for successfully breeding miniature horses increases.
Some breeders may use heated barns and artifical lights to prolong the breeding season.
Mares should be properly vaccinated to protect
themselves and their foals. Check with your vet to arrange
the proper schedule. A good worming program is also crucial
to maintain all healthy miniature horses, but especially, mares
that are foaling, and the young foal after it is born. Many
Vets recommend that the foal be wormed at one month of age and
every month thereafter for the first year. Alternate worming
products in order to prevent a resistance to a particular wormer.
Products containing ivermectrin are usually recommended to be
used at least twice a year, after the first frost and in the
It is advisable to use a very mild wormer for the first time when worming a foal because if a strong product is used, too many parasites may be killed at one time and can cause immediate danger to the foal. There is a product on the market that is only necessary to use every 6 months but it could be very hazardous to a foal.
It is crucial that the foal receive clostrum from its Dam, usually within the first 12 hours after birth. If the foal has not nursed or if it is obvious that the Mare has no milk or clostrum, call your vet immediately. Steps can be taken to insure that the foal receives the proper protection, but it t be done while the foal is still susceptible to accepting colostrum. There are clostrum replacements on the market today that can be administered to the foal by iv or orally. A plasma transfer that can supply the newborn foal with antibodies can be performed if the foal is 12 hours or older and has not received adequate colostrum from its Dam. It is far better to be on hand when the foal is born to make first-hand observations and to take the necessary steps if required. A foal is usually up and nursing within the first 2 hours. The Foal often begins to struggle to its feet within 10-15 minutes after birth.
Most births are without incidence, and are extremely rewarding to everyone concerned. It is always best to be prepared, just in case, that 1-10% strikes.
Making certain that the foal emerges from the "bag"may well be one of most common problem with newborns. Some people equate tough bags that cannot be broken during birth with fescue grass that contains the endophyte fungus. It is certainly worthwhile to investigate the type of grass in your pasture and in hay that is being fed to pregnant mares. There is a new type of fescue that is said to be endophyte-free now and that may be worth considering. Some breeders switch to alfalfa or timothy three months before the mare is due to foal.
Consult with feed and seed suppliers before planning or confirming your nutritional program.
Breed only healthy, quality, mature miniature horse stock.
Follow a regular worming and vaccination schedule
Provide adequate shelter and bedding
Some of the top breeders use rubberized flooring or mats to
provide cushioning for their miniature horses. (Hay bedding
that is at least 4" thick for foaling may be more desirable
than wood chips or sawdust in some cases because it is softer and
wood particles cannot damage eyes). Of course, wood chips
may be cleaner and some people say that hay or straw can cause
damage to the eyes as well. Straw covers a good deal more
ground, but mares often eat the straw and can colic. If
nothing else is available, newspapers might be an option to
provide cleanliness and warmth. Never use ground mulch that
contains walnut for bedding because it is said to cause a
horse to founder. If shredded mulch or sawdust is a dark
color, it would probably be safer to assume that it could have
walnut in the mixture and choose another bedding.