Home > Horse Breeds > Miniature Horses 101: Everything You Need to Know

Miniature Horses 101: Everything You Need to Know

By Alex Verwest


Updated on

We all love horses here and that’s a fact. Regardless of who you are, where you’re from, or what kind of a person you think you are, chances are that if you clicked on this link then you are just as much of a fan of horses as the rest of us are, and that’s perfectly fine.

One mistake that most people make out there is they actually end up believing that you need to have owned horses all your life to actually love them to begin with, and that’s honestly quite a huge misconception to say the least.

Many of us have always found horses to be fascinating and beautiful, but because we lived in the city or we couldn’t afford to actually take care of one, we just never got to own one for ourselves, until now.

Mini horse
Photo by Julissa Helmuth / pexels.com

Because of this, most of us don’t how to take care of a horse and more specifically we end up dismissing the idea of ever buying one, because we are afraid that we won’t know how to actually deal with it.

Rest assured though knowing that you’re not alone in this, as there are millions of others out there that are going through the same thing as we speak. In order to help you and everyone else that is facing this problem we decided to bring you our very own guides depicting all of the ins and outs of the craft.

In this detailed article we decided to cover miniature horses and everything that they may entail. So, let’s just hop right into a quick little introduction on what separates miniature horses from any other horses out there:

The History of Miniature Horses

History of Miniature Horses
Photo by Soledad Lorieto / unsplash.com

Miniature horses were actually first developed way back in the 1600s somewhere in Europe. They quickly became popular because of their adorable look and of course, their small size.

They were actually first used for labor in mines because of their small size, as they could easily walk in and out of the mines without causing any collapses inside. They made their way into the United States around the late 1800s, where they quickly caught on yet again for mining purposes.

A couple of decades later though they started to get recognized for their strange, look and before long they even had two registries made specifically for them, aka the American Miniature Horse association and the American Miniature Horse Registry.

With this newfound popularity, their numbers started to double up overnight as more and more people started to pay attention to them, increasing their demand not only for mining purposes but also for their aesthetic.

How Small Are Miniature Horses?

How Small Are Miniature Horses
7S Miniature Horse Farm / facebook.com

Considering the fact that they are literally known as miniature horses, how mini are they really? Well, for the most part, the American Miniature Horse Association only considers horses measuring 34 inches to be purebred, with any horse that grows taller than that not being officially recognized as a mini.

The American Miniature Horse Registry however does believe that there are two different types of miniature horses to be found on the market.

The first of these is around 34 inches tall while the second one can grow as large as 38 inches. Again, anything larger than that is not officially considered to be a miniature horse to begin with.

For the most part, miniature horses will weigh something between 150 and 350 pounds in total, with the great majority of them being on the smaller size and the occasional one reaching around 300 pounds during their peak.

You can actually contact your breeder in case your miniature horse is taller than 3 feet tall and ask for a different horse or your money back. There have been many cases of people suing their breeders because their minis were taller than that and for the most part, they’ve won their cases.

How Much Do Miniature Horses Cost?

How Much Do Miniature Horses Cost
Equitot Inc. Classic Miniature Horses / facebook.com

When it comes to their overall price, we can’t give you an exact assessment as it all depends on the availability in your area and of course, the pedigree of the horse itself.

It all comes down to their size, breed, and whether you can receive an actual record of the parents, to make sure that they are a hundred percent the breed they claim to be. This will all cost extra but it will be worth it if you want to take part in shows with your mini.

On top of that you can also opt for an adult miniature horse that is just looking for a home now. This will significantly lower the price, going as low as $300 to $400, depending on how much the mini needs an owner to begin with.

If there is no immediate need for an owner though you can end up spending anywhere between $1,000 and $200,000 per horse, if you want them to be in perfect show-quality.

Keep in mind that purchasing your miniature horse is actually usually the cheap part of the transaction, as besides this you will also need to heavily invest into the initial setup costs, the food that you will be feeding it, and pretty much everything else that comes on the menu with any animal purchase out there.

You will need to keep all of that in mind before you actually purchase your very own miniature horse as the prices can really rack up high in no time if you’re not careful.

Miniature Horses Typical Behavior and Temperament

Miniature Horses Typical Behavior
Photo by horsemen / stock.adobe.com

For the most part, miniature horses are an open book when it comes to their emotions as they are very friendly and docile creatures that will not cause you any harm unless pushed towards that in the first place.

They are very social creatures meaning that if they get attached to you, they will try to follow you around everywhere and they will constantly try to interact with you regardless of whether you’re angry at them or not.

They are very intelligent and easy to train also, and because of how nice they are to children they are considered to be the perfect pets to add to your family’s backyard. They are fairly easygoing but at the same time they are very individual when it comes to their actual “quirks”.

What we mean by this is that each and every miniature horse is special in its own way and we do mean that. Some may be defiant; others may be more stubborn and they can even be quite violent from time to time.

Miniature horse stallion
Photo by Larrywalmart / wikipedia.org

While the great majority of them are very playful and docile, you will eventually get a mini that can’t wait to trample you when you least expect it, so definitely keep that in mind if you want to invest into a miniature horse today.

They are usually considered to be the more docile version of normal sized horses but we’d honestly disagree with that as horses in general are very calm and friendly, they are only mean to you if they sense that you mean to do them harm and this will carry on to your miniature horse also if they feel it in you that you want to harm them.

For the most part though, miniature horses will be very gentle creatures, remember to play around with them and interact with them as much as possible because as we mentioned previously, they are very social creatures and if you don’t have any other animals around them then definitely take the time to befriend them yourself.

Miniature Horses Appearance

Miniature Horses Appearance
Windy Poplars Miniature Horses / facebook.com

There are too many different varieties of miniature horses out there for you to pick from, which is why you shouldn’t expect your miniature horse to look a certain way, unless you’ve talked about this with your breeder beforehand.

As we know, the great majority of them weigh around 150 to 250 pounds when fully grown, and they are as tall as 34 inches in height, but as far as their actual pedigree is concerned, as long as the parents are legit that’s all there is to it.

You will be able to choose between a “stock” variety and a more “refined” type though, with the stock-type looking a lot more like a pony with a rather large body and broad chest, coupled with the short legs, and the refined type having a much slimmer body by comparison.

Regardless of which of them you actually go for you should know that they’re both perfectly fine for any show whatsoever, as long as you have the papers to confirm their pedigree of course.

What do Miniature Horses Eat?

What do Miniature Horses Eat
Photo by Cristina Anne Costello / unsplash.com

As far as their diet goes, miniature horses need to eat a healthy balance of grass, hay, rolled oats and pretty much any other type of grain sprinkled with treats, to make it taste better with each bite.

They are actually not that different from most any other horses out there, albeit a huge difference that we can immediately pick up on here is definitely the fact that they don’t eat anywhere near as much as the typical horse would.

They are also very easy to overfeed though, so definitely keep that in mind, since if you want your miniature horse to be show ready then you will want to keep a close eye on their weight, if you don’t want to ruin your chances of taking that first place just because you like to make your mini happy.

Always check up on your miniature horse’s weight and activity level, to make sure that they’re on their way to living a long and healthy life, they should never be too overweight or underweight just because this can lead to a ton of different health problems.

Miniature Horses Health Problems

Miniature Horses Health
Photo by Nona / stock.adobe.com

We mentioned previously how behavioral-wise miniature horses are very docile and friendly, but what we failed to mention was the fact that they are also prone to several health issues which are no laughing matter.

Considering the fact that the main reason as to why miniature horses are so small to begin with is the dwarfism mutations that their bodies went through, so it’s no wonder that they’re very much so due for a lot of health complications to say the least.

On top of that, obesity is very common amongst miniature horses, especially when you treat them as you would with any other horses, and you don’t allow them to move around anywhere near as much as they ought to, considering their conditions.

Miniature horses can end up having difficult births though due to their small size and they can easily end up with dental issues if you are not careful enough with their diet.

Besides all of that, miniature horses can also be susceptible to hyperlipidemia and colic, so if you’re looking for a new horse and you’re not ready to spend a lot on medication then you should definitely invest in a different horse breed altogether.

Miniature Horses Grooming

Miniature Horses Grooming
High Meadow Miniature Horses / facebook.com

Grooming-wise miniature horses are actually not that different from any other horse breed out there. They are a lot smaller though, which does mean that you’ll have to do a lot less to keep them clean and healthy. So, for this part you will need a simple comb, a brush and a hoof pick, to make sure that your mini doesn’t have too much dirt or debris stuck in its hoof.

On top of that you can also find a farrier that can take care of your miniature horse’s hooves for you, since this is going to be your main target when grooming your mini horse around.

Since they are quite gentle and friendly you won’t find it all that difficult to take care of your miniature horse, although it again all depends on the individual himself, as every now and then you may find yourself fending for your life, because your mini ended up getting too riled up as you were cleaning its hooves.

All in all though, the grooming process shouldn’t be all that difficult than it is for any other horse breed out there.

Fun Facts About Miniature Horses

Fun Facts About Miniature Horses
Photo by caracme / pixabay.com

Here is a list of the most interesting facts that we could find about miniature horses that are sure to make your day better:

First of all, you should know that back in the 1900s they were considered to be the best pet for royal families. Since they were very hard to come by, they quickly caught on and before long even some of the most prominent figures in the world’s history such as Empress Eugenie had her hands on a mini horse.

Second of all, did you know that you can also own a mini horse as a service animal? That’s right, since they are so easy to train, you can actually use a miniature horse to assist visually impaired individuals and make everyone’s life easier in the process.

They can also serve as therapy animals thanks to their fluffiness and their gentleness. It’s not very often that you can see one used as such but as long as they’re trained for the job, it shouldn’t come off as a surprise if you see one in the wild.

Last but not least did you know that the smallest mini horse to have ever been recorded was as small as 17.5 inches tall?

Her name was Thumbelina and she was actually born in 2001 and despite the fact that she passed away back in 2018, she still lived a very happy life amongst her owners Paul and Kay Goessling and she never had to worry about ever going to bed unfed or ungroomed.

She was so small in fact that her legs were literally smaller than a chicken’s and despite being very fragile she was also very friendly and playful to anyone that wanted to pet her.


Miniature Horses
Photo by Mark Edwards / pixabay.com

So, the real question now is the following: Should you be getting yourself a miniature horse? Honestly as long as you have limited space and yet you still want to get yourself a horse, you should definitely get one, but do keep in mind that it can be very expensive to actually keep one for a longer period of time.

They are generally very friendly and docile creatures, and they can be trained quite easily which makes them great pets to have around you. Just keep in mind the fact that they have rather long lifespans, so you will have to take care of them for a very long time after you buy them.

They are also relatively expensive to take care of and they can get as expensive as $200,000 per horse, if you want to be sure of the fact that you’ll be winning shows with that little bugger.

At the same time, you can easily get one for as little as $500 if you get lucky enough. Just remember to read through everything we talked about above and make sure that you tick off every requirement we mentioned there, before you actually put your hard-earned money to the test by getting one.

For now though, we would like to thank you for reading our guide and we hope that it was as fun to read it as it was to write it. Good luck with your new mini and don’t forget to hug it at least once every day for good luck.

Miniature Horses Pin

Avatar photo
About Alex Verwest

Alex is an equestrian consultant who has co-founded several successful start-up companies and worked with various international equestrian businesses. Using his experience and connections in this field, he loves to introduce readers to many outstanding small equestrian brands, sharing stories about equestrian lifestyle and trends. Learn more about Seriously Equestrian's Editorial Process.