Miniature Horse vs Shetland Pony
I've been thinking for a long time about getting some sort of small pony/horse creature to keep in my back yard, just for fun. I have a lot of experience working with horses (in fact, I currently work at a barn with 25-30 horses), but I have never had one at home before. I'm looking for something small, hardy, and relatively friendly. Ideally I want something that I can hop on bareback with just a halter and lead rope and ride around the field, or up the driveway to get the mail if I feel like it. Not often, not real work, just walking and maybe a bit of trotting. Most of the time it would be a pasture puff.
I know that are a few key differences between Minis and Shetlands, but it's one thing to read about them and another to hear them from someone who has owned them. I would even be willing to look at smaller Welshes, but nothing over 13 hands. I am relatively tall (5'6ish) and weigh about 120-125lbs, but I've been riding for a long time and I know how to carry my own weight. Honestly, this will be more of a big dog than an actual horse. I'm looking for info on ease of management/care, cost effectiveness (I know; all horses are expensive), temperament, etc.
A miniature cannot carry 120 lbs, PLEASE don't get a miniature. Not to mention... at 120 - 125 lbs and 5'6 you're MUCH too tall. Think about it this way... you're talking 13hh pony, your 'large' mini is going to be about 38 inches (right? somebody correct me if I'm wrong...) under 10hh, about three feet at the withers, that'd look awfully silly, wouldn't it?
Minis are not meant to carry weight, especially 120 lbs. You WILL hurt it, no matter how well you carry your weight.
Furthermore, I don't recommend keeping a pony / mini 'in the backyard' unless you have at least one other pony / mini to keep it company, AT LEAST make sure it's sharing a fence line. I just rehomed a mini that had been treated like a dog, all alone with no other horses, sweet as pie now but when I first got him he was quite damaged psychologically, they're herd animals just as much as much as big horses.
If I do go with a mini I definitely don't plan on riding it. And honestly, I don't care if it looks silly. I look silly on a 13 hand pony (I've ridden a few). This isn't a pony I'd be taking lessons on or showing, it's one that I might hop on for a two minute round trip to the mailbox. The riding thing is only for if I end up with a Shetland or some other small pony. I used the big dog comparison as an indication of how often I planned on trying to ride (almost never) than literally treating a horse like a dog.
Just out of curiosity; how much of my original post did you actually read? I work at a barn with 25-30 horses. I understand that horses are herd animals and need company. I'm not going to toss one out the back door and hope it's fine. It will have goats for company in the beginning (I've known plenty of horses that lived alone with the goats just fine), and if that doesn't seem adequate, well I've always wanted a miniature donkey.
A mini you definitely can't ride. I have a pair of of Shetlands that are more the American type than the original, super short, heavy type. I'm a few inches taller than you and should I get on one, my feet wouldn't be far from the ground. They are nowhere near 13 hands. I still look at my guy who is about 14.2 and wonder if I should ever ride him when his hooves have healed and I can break him.
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The 13 hands isn't what I'm looking for, it's my max height. There is a Shetland at work, and I haven't been on him but only because he's pretty old. I've been told by various reliable sources that I'm not too heavy for a stockier Shetland, especially if I'm not doing anything difficult.
No one has actually answered my question yet....Other than weight bearing capabilities, what are the main differences?
It depends on the type of Shetland you want and the type of mini you want. There seems to be stocky and refined versions of each. They both require all the normal maintenance of a larger horse, hooves, teeth, wormer, training, etc.
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First things first; what are your zoning laws concerning livestock? The whole conversation may be a moot point if you're not allowed to keep a barnyard animal in your back yard.
Minis are not meant to be rode... you can drive them. They stand 34-38" for class b and up to 34 for class a. Personally at your size I don't think you should be riding a pony at all but that is my opinion only.
I live across the street and next door to horse farms, and I have goats and chickens in my backyard. I think a horse will be fine.
@churumbeque: That is your opinion and you are welcome to it. If you don't have anything constructive to say, please leave the thread.
Again; if I go with a mini I DO NOT plan on riding it. That was only for if I go with a Shetland. I'm just looking for some of the pros and cons of each breed.
@WickedNag: Thank you for your stating your opinion politely :) I have ridden small ponies before and they were perfectly fine. I have told by experienced horse people, vets, the equine chiropractor, and other equine professionals that I will not do any damage to a small pony as long as I'm just walking around bareback. Obviously I will not be trotting, cantering, or jumping, or riding for long periods of time.
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