Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: middle of nowhere
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.