The Miniature is a pony sized horse with horse characteristics. Its body is compact, muscular, well proportioned and with a strong bone structure. The head has a straight profile, large, expressive eyes and pointed ears. Miniature horses have short, strong backs and sloping shoulders. Their legs are in proportion to the rest of their body and their hindquarters are rounded and muscular.
The maximum height is 34 inches.
Comes in all sorts of colors and patterns.
Miniature horses are intelligent and alert animals. They are gentle natured and love the attention and affection of their owners. They are very curious and playful.
They are very popular pets, are used for pulling small carts and are displayed in shows. Many Miniature horses are currently used as assistance animals, the same way e.g. guiding dogs are used. Although their size facilitates this use, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the issue. Horses are prey animals and, unlike dogs, they may bulk or flee during a crisis, something which would endanger the safety of the person they are helping. Also, unlike dogs, they cannot stay in an apartment but need a large space to run and play. The one thing Miniature horses are not normally used for is riding.
The diet of Miniature horses should be closely monitored as they tend to overeat; this can cause them obesity or health problems. Although they do not have different nutritional needs than conventional horse breeds, they require much less food to cover their energy and nutritional needs. Miniature horses love to play and have access to a pasture, so make sure to provide them with outdoor access regularly.
Miniature horses were first bred in the 17th century as pets for noble families. They were developed from crossing various pony breeds. In the 19th century people also started using them as working animals. In the 20th century Miniature horses gained popularity in the United States and in 1978 the American Miniature Horse Association was formed.
A dwarf horse, Thumbelina, currently holds the record for the world's smallest horse (17 inches). Miniature horses tend to live longer than most other horse breeds. Their average lifespan is 25-35 years, while they can live up to one third longer than other breeds.