Miniature horses can be traced back to the 1600s in Europe, where they were used to pull carts in coal mines and were kept as pets by the wealthy. There are records of small horses being brought to the U.S. in the 1880s to use in coal hauling in the mining industry. However, most modern minis in North America contain Falabella lineage, a small breed of selectively-bred offspring of small Shetland ponies crossed with small Thoroughbreds developed in Argentina beginning in 1845 and imported to California in 1962. The resulting very tiny, sturdy horse featured refined conformation and stood under 33.5 inches at the wither.
The miniature horse, despite it size, is not a pony because it possesses horse-like characteristics in its conformation and character.
While there are many Miniature breed associations throughout the world with varying standards, in general the mini should have the same well-balanced proportions as regular horses, but stand under 34 inches tall. Their temperament is a mix of intelligence, curiosity, gentleness, cooperativeness and a sensible, willing nature. They can be found in any colour or coat pattern. Gaits should be forward and free-flowing.
Minis are generally quite hardy, with an average life span from 25-35 years. The oldest living horse on record was Angel, a miniature horse affected by dwarfism (an undesirable genetic mutation) who lived to be 50. The world’s smallest horse, Thumbelina, is also a dwarf mini who stands just 17 inches tall.
Although these “horses” are too small to be ridden, they can be used to pull carts, and shown in-hand in a variety of events such as jumping events, halter classes, obstacle courses, costume classes and games. Miniature horses are also commonly used as companion or therapy animals.
For more information visit:
American Miniature Horse Association