For those people new to the Miniatures, we've included a page of basic information on the breed and it's registries. And also a bit about the Shetland Pony, as we will be directing our breeding program in that direction.
Miniature Horses are found in many nations, particularly in Europe and the Americas. The designation of miniature horse is determined by the height of the animal, which, depending on the particular breed registry involved, is usually 25–38 inches as measured at the last hairs of the mane, which are found at the withers. While miniature horses are the size of a very small pony, many retain horse characteristics and are considered "horses" by their respective registries. They have various colors and coat patterns. A pony measures 38" up to 14.2HH.
Miniature horses are friendly and interact well with people. For this reason they are often kept as family pets, though they still retain natural horse behavior, including a natural fight or flight instinct, and must be treated like an equine, even if they primarily serve as a companion animal. They are also trained as service animals, akin to assistance dogs for people with disabilities. While miniature horses can be trained to work indoors, they are still real horses and are healthier when allowed to live outdoors (with proper shelter and room to run) when not working with humans.
They are generally quite hardy, often living longer on average than some full-sized horse breeds; the average life span of miniature horses is from 25 to 35 years.
In the 17th century, miniature horses were bred as pets for Europe's Habsburg nobility. Records from the court of the French King Louis XIV, circa 1650, note the presence of tiny horses among the exotic creatures in the king's zoo. Paintings and articles featured the miniature horse by 1765. In England, Lady Estella Hope and her sisters carried on a breeding program from original English lines into the mid-nineteen hundreds. However, not all early miniatures were pampered pets of kings and queens. Some were used to work in the English Midlands, Wales and Northern European coal mines as pit ponies.
In the United States, the miniature horse breed was refined during the 20th century. Miniature horses in the USA added additional lines from sources that included the Hackney Pony and the Pony of the Americas.
The Falabella miniature horse was originally developed in Argentina in 1868 by Patrick Newell. When Newell died, the herd and breeding methods were passed to Newell's son-in-law, Juan Falabella. For more info on the Falabella contact the Falabella Miniature Horse Association (FMHA).
South Africa's Miniature Horses were developed in that nation and are known as the South African Miniature Horses, a recognized breed in its own right. Mr. Wynand de Wet of Lindley, South Africa, started in 1945 with two Shetland mares and a stallion. Through strict selection, their offspring became smaller and in 1991 Mr. de Wet bred a mare that was only 66 centimetres (26 in) tall.
In Canada, ponies are registered with the CLRC Pony registry (The Canadian Pony Society)
There are two main registries in the United States for Miniature Horses, the American Shetland Pony Club/American Miniature Horse Registry (ASPC & AMHR) and the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA). Our horses at the ranch are mainly registered with the ASPC & AMHR.
The AMHA was founded in 1978 and was dedicated to establishing the Miniature horse as a distinct breed of horse. The AMHR is a division of the American Shetland Pony Club and was established as a separate registry in 1972. AMHR is considered a height registry and the measurement is taken at the last mane hair on the horse's withers. (In the AMHA, Miniatures cannot exceed 34 inches at the withers).
There are two divisions in AMHR - the "A" division for horses 34 inches (86 cm) and under, and the "B" division for horses 34 to 38 inches (86 to 97 cm).
Worldwide, there are dozens of miniature horse registries. Some organizations emphasize breeding of miniatures with horse characteristics, others encourage minis to retain pony characteristics.
The AMHA standard suggests that if a person were to see a photograph of a miniature horse, without any size reference, it would be identical in characteristics, conformation, and proportion to a full-sized horse.
According to the AMHR, a "Miniature should be a small, sound, well-balanced horse and should give the impression of strength, agility and alertness. A Miniature should be eager and friendly but not skittish in disposition."
Miniature Horse Club Great Britain (MHCGB) is able to register and issue passports to miniature horses with 50% or more American blood, at least one parent must be registered with the AMHA.
The UK American Miniature Horse Society (UKAMHS) is the only miniature horse organisation in Great Britain run specifically for American Miniature Horses. The UKAMHS is affiliated to the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA).