Similarities and differences between owning a mini and a full size horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 08-23-2017, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
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Similarities and differences between owning a mini and a full size horse?

Let's talk about minis, I am a big fan of them and their shetland genetics. I love their super thick forelocks and manes, I love their whinies, I love how watching them eat and I especially love watching them in a herd with regular full size horses.

For those who have minis or have minis and full size horses, what do you find are similarities and differences between owning the two?

Obviously, we can't ride minis (only kids and within certain weight), and minis love being driven and are often show in driving classes.

How is the feed different other than them eating a lot less than a full size horse? Hoofs? Dental? Deworming? Shots?
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post #2 of 10 Old 08-23-2017, 04:15 PM
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Feed: minis usually get fat on air (most people around here call them "Air Ferns". You can feed 6-7 minis on the hay required by a full-size horse.) Most minis require no grain, and do better without it. Minis also can have issues on lush pasture-- most people with minis keep them on a dry lot with hay, or a very overgrazed pasture. One out on lush grass is at high risk of founder and other metabolic issues.

Hooves: it can be hard to find a farrier to work on minis because they're so low to the ground and hard on the back. You can help your farrier by training the minis to stand on a platform or fill a tractor tire with hard-packed earth and teach them to hop up and stand on it.

Teeth: minis can have issues with teeth crowding, so regular care is essential. Finding a vet who is knowledgeable and can work on a very small mouth if needed can be a challenge. Same with foaling-- minis tend to have more issues foaling than full-size horses (at least according to friends who breed/raise both) so a good reproductive vet with SMALL HANDS is essential. When you find one, treat her like gold.

Deworming: deworm by weight. Some dewormers, moxidectin in particular, does not have the large safety margin for overdose like others, so be very careful your mini is accurately weighed and dosed. I squeeze out a mini's dose into a clean empty dewormer tube or syringe so I know he won't get too much if the dial slips on the dewormer tube. It happens, and dosing a mini with the full tube can be fatal.

While many people successfully keep minis and larger horses together, it's generally not recommended. It's very easy for a large horse to kick out, even in play, and severely injure a mini. When I had minis and ponies around, I found it easier to keep them separate from the bigger horses for several reasons-- safety, fencing, and feeding. Due to loose dogs in our area, I kept the minis and ponies in a pen with wire panels so the dogs couldn't get through or over, and ran electric inside the fence at mini-horse-nose-height to keep them away from it to minimize getting a muzzle or leg through the fence. The minis stayed fat on a lot with very little grass and a few handfuls of hay a couple of times a day. I no longer have them because where I live now, my horses need to be out on full-time pasture with high-tensile fencing. That would not work for minis-- the grass, even in a drought, is far too rich and abundant and the fencing would not keep a mini in safely, and even more importantly, would not keep a loose dog out. I also will not turn minis out with full-size horses having seen some tragic instances where a playful kick resulted in the death of a mini. If the situation presents itself where I could safely keep a couple of minis separated, I would have them again in a heartbeat.

Minis also tend to have some conformational issues that crop up moreso than in large horses. Stifle issues, locking patellas, and dwarfism are all found regularly in the breed, so careful consideration of the health and genetic issues and conformational shortfalls of breeding stock is of great importance. You will find minis in two basic types-- the refined show type which tend to look a lot like small Arabians, and the old-style stocky type which resemble little stock horses and/or native ponies. I prefer the stockier type, personally, but they are harder to find in many areas, and tend not to show as well. There are also a lot of train-wreck conformational messes produced by backyard breeders, so know what you are looking for and make sure your potential new mini is well-bred, easy to handle, and healthy with good conformation. If purchasing a show horse or breeding stock, smaller animals will cost you more. You can stretch your budget if you are willing to buy one toward the top end of the standard.

Minis are tons of fun. They are easy to handle, easy to train, most like being with people, and you can do a lot with them. Miniature horse shows are a blast, and you can show in halter, in-hand obstacle/trail, in-hand jumping, driving, etc.

Last edited by SilverMaple; 08-23-2017 at 04:23 PM.
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post #3 of 10 Old 08-23-2017, 04:47 PM
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Well, they're not actually mine so I don't know a whole lot about them, but we have three minis up the field. One Shetland has been my cob's field companion for years but the owner recently got two more mini mares to keep him company in his own pasture. The poor mite has bad separation anxiety so we're hoping he'll attach more to his new girlfriends now!

Personally I find them just the same as other ponies, personality-wise. They can definitely be a little cheeky and they're easy to spoil because they're so unthreatening. But all three are very sweet and they love cuddles and scratches all over. They really enjoy the company as well and will follow us around the field. These are pets but the gelding loves to be worked (groundwork, lunging) and just led around with us like a little show pony. We might take him to some local shows if I can keep the pressure up, lol!

They definitely get fat on air. They eat barely anything. Most of the hay in the gelding's stable just gets dragged around and urinated on. They're very hardy though and tolerate our winters easily under their thick and shaggy winter coats.

It's really hard to take pictures of the gelding because he moves about so much lol. The little coloured and black ones are the new mare minis and the other one is the Shetland gelding.
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post #4 of 10 Old 08-23-2017, 05:14 PM
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I think @SilverMaple covered it pretty well there.

So many minis suffer by people thinking that they are easier to keep than a 'real horse' when in fact they have all the same issues compounded by their compact size. Looking after the barn one weekend, no issues putting the blankets on for the big warm bloods and TB's but trying to put a blanket on a mini is a nightmare! Feet, teeth, all these things are more complicated with small ones.
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post #5 of 10 Old 08-23-2017, 07:00 PM
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^ I giggle at having to put a blanket on a mini..... ours always got so shaggy, they looked like walking yaks!!
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post #6 of 10 Old 08-23-2017, 07:22 PM
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Minis are awesome, had them with a horse, but now with two ponies.
All 4 need special diets because they are air ferns, just looking at grass will swell them right up! =/
I'm usually the only one dealing with them, so they don't particularly know how to act around strangers, but they aren't monsters. Just as curious and nosey as my ponies, but that's because that is the personality type I seek out. Don't leave phone's, gloves or hat's just anywhere, as they love to steal it for a bit. But they'll pizz off if you tell them to.
Everyone here is learning to pull a cart, too.

They're very similar to horses, if not more work and cost to them.

Mine have tiny rocks for hooves.
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post #7 of 10 Old 08-23-2017, 08:08 PM
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The little suckers have a lot of attitude. I don't do arena work often, but when I do, having the two minis scurry around is always a lot of fun. They can do whatever they like, but often they enjoy being part of the action. Once I worked in the arena with my mare (17hh-ish TB), and both of them were attached to her "mare parts" like it was a magnet. Can't accuse them of having low ambition, eh?
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post #8 of 10 Old 08-23-2017, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverMaple View Post
^ I giggle at having to put a blanket on a mini..... ours always got so shaggy, they looked like walking yaks!!
It was a new one on me! But he was clipped and it was COLD.

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post #9 of 10 Old 08-23-2017, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmshiro View Post
The little suckers have a lot of attitude. I don't do arena work often, but when I do, having the two minis scurry around is always a lot of fun. They can do whatever they like, but often they enjoy being part of the action. Once I worked in the arena with my mare (17hh-ish TB), and both of them were attached to her "mare parts" like it was a magnet. Can't accuse them of having low ambition, eh?
My minis love to join in. That's how they learned to stop, turn and go. They have a blast, it's super fun for them.
Gelding learned to ignore them and pay attention to me amongst the chaos, too. So they were entertaining and helpful.
=)
Two pinto pics on grass should be one under the next, sorry.
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post #10 of 10 Old 08-24-2017, 02:42 AM
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Minis need less space and less food and water but other than that require the same level of care. Actually mine need more care than the full sizers because they are on a dry lot and need to be given hay twice a day. The big ones are out on pasture 24/7, have a round bale during the winter and get a handful of feed once a day just to keep them on schedule of coming to the barn to get checked over.

Maybe because they are on a dry lot and have plenty of room to move around but the minis only need their feet trimmed every other time the big horses get theirs trimmed. They still never have a lot to take off and their hooves are in very good shape.

Mine anyway, were harder to train because they wanted to fight pressure rather than give in to it. Their halter training always took longer. All in all though they are fun little ******s to have around.

I'm with @SilverMaple on keeping minis and full sized horses separated for reasons of safety and different food requirements.

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