03-05-2010, 01:29 PM
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A miniature horse should never be ridden. The reason is because their thoratic vertebrae (in the region where the saddle goes) is much more flexible and moveable (not to mention smaller) than the naturally rigid thoratic vertebrae of rideable equines. Because the vertebrae of a mini are like this, even carrying a saddle and small rider puts stress on the spine. It has been found that 70 lbs is the limit before you risk injury to the back. But even so, the vertebrae are more easily thrown out of alignment and hyper lordosis is likely to set in if a mini is used as a riding horse, even with light-weight children, who are likely to have little self awareness and balance on any horse.
Miniature horses were bred for the specific purpose of pulling, not carrying.
The ideal small riding horse for a child would be the shetland, or welsh. These are hardy ponies that can actually carry light-weight, experienced riders that can train them for the child. I would trust my child to a larger but more well-schooled pony, rather than a smaller but lesser-trained mini.