Miniature Horse Information Pages


















ozark mountain mini tack


What exactly IS a Miniature Horse?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Miniature Horse Distinguishing features Alternative names Common nicknames
Miniature horse at show in Europe
Small size, with horse phenotype 34–38 inches (86–97 cm) as measured at the last hairs of the withersmane
Mini horse
Equus ferus caballus

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 less than 34–38 inches (86–97 cm) 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.

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. Miniature horses are also trained for driving, equine agility and other competitive horse show type events.


Characteristics and registration

There are two registries in the United States for Miniature Horses, the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) and the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR). The AMHA was founded in 1978 and was dedicated to establishing the Miniature horse as a distinct breed of horse.[1][2] Many of the international organizations are associated with the AMHA, including clubs throughout Canada and in several European countries.[3] The AMHR is a division of the American Shetland pony Club and was established as a separate registry in 1972.[4] Worldwide, there are dozens of miniature horse registries. Some organizations emphasize breeding of miniatures with horse characteristics, others encourage minis to retain pony characteristics. Along with registries for miniature horses in general, there are also breed-specific registries, such as several for the Falabella horse.[5]

In the AMHR, Miniatures cannot exceed 34 inches at the withers (which the AMHR defines as located at the last hair of the mane). 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).[6] The AMHA requires that horses stand under 34 inches. Horses of any eye or coat color, and any form of white markings, are allowed to be registered. 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.[1] 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."[4]

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.[7] However, there are also some health issues that are more frequently found in miniature horses than their full-sized relatives. Overfeeding is a common problem in miniature horses, leading to obesity; this is especially true when owners are used to owning full-sized horses. Dental issues, including crowding, brachygnathism (overbites) and prognathism (underbites) are frequently seen, due to having the same number of teeth in a much smaller mouth. They can also experience retention of deciduous teeth (baby teeth) and sinus problems from overcrowding. The combination of a propensity for overeating and dental problems can lead to an increased occurrence of colic. A major metabolic problem seen more frequently in miniature horses is hyperlipemia, where an appetite-reducing stressor can cause the body to break down significant amounts of fat, overwhelming the liver and potentially leading to liver failure. Reproduction is also more difficult in miniature horses, with a higher incidence of difficult births and a greater potential for eclampsia. The majority of the health problems seen more frequently in miniature horses are easily rectified with proper feeding and maintenance.[8]


Miniature horses were first developed in Europe in the 1600s, and by 1765, they were seen frequently as the pets of nobility. Others were used in coal mines in England and continental Europe.[9] The English began using small ponies in their mines after the Mines and Collieries Act 1842 prohibited the use of young children as mine workers. Shetland ponies were most frequently seen, although any small, strong ponies that would fit in the small mine shafts were used as pit ponies. The first small horses in the United States date to 1861, when John Rarey imported four Shetland ponies, one of whom was 24 inches (61 cm) tall.[2] Additional small British horses, as well as small Dutch mine horses, were brought to the US throughout the late 1800s.[10] These small horses continued the work of their British relatives, being employed in the coal mines of the eastern and central US until the mid-1900s.[2] In the 1960s, public appreciation for miniature horses began to grow, and they were increasingly used in a number of equestrian disciplines.[10]

The Falabella miniature horse was originally developed in Argentina in the mid-1800s by Patrick Newell. When Newell died, the herd and breeding methods were passed to Newell's son-in-law, Juan Falabella. Juan added additional bloodlines including the Welsh Pony, Shetland pony, and small Thoroughbreds. With considerable inbreeding he was able to gain consistently small size within the herd.[11]

The South African Miniature Horse was developed in South Africa and has a wide range of conformations represented in its population. Some resemble miniature Arabians, while others appear to be scaled-down versions of draft horses.[12] Wynand de Wet was the first breeder of miniature horses in South America, beginning his program in 1945 in Lindley, South Africa. Other breeders soon followed, with many using Arabian horses in their breeding programs. In 1984, a breed registry was begun, and the national livestock association recognized the South African Miniature Horse as an independent breed in 1989. There are approximately 700 miniature horses registered in South Africa.[13]


There are many horse show opportunities offered by registries and show sanctioning organizations worldwide.

Many classes are offered, including halter (horse conformation), in-hand hunter and jumper, driving, liberty, costume, obstacle or trail classes, and showmanship. Miniature horses are also used as companion animals and pets for children, the elderly and the handicapped, as they are generally less intimidating than full-sized horses.[9] 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.[14]


Horse or pony?

There is an ongoing debate over whether a miniature horse should possess horse or pony characteristics. This is a common controversy within the miniature horse world and also is a hot debate between mini aficionados and other horse and pony breed owners. While technically any member of Equus ferus caballus under 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm) is termed a "pony," many breeds, including some miniature breeds, actually retain a horse phenotype and their breed registry therefore classifies them as horses.[citation needed]

Some miniature horse breed standards prefer pony characteristics such as short, stout legs and elongated torsos, while others prefer ordinary horse proportions.[15] Even the name is in dispute, terms such as "Midget Pony" and "Pygmy Horse" used in addition to "Miniature horse" and breed-specific names such as Falabella. The level of controversy is reflected by the presence of over 30 different registries for miniaturized horses or ponies just within the English-speaking world.[16]



Thumbelina - a Dwarf mare (left)

Dwarfism is a concern within the miniature horse world. Dwarf horses, while often setting world records for size, are not considered to have desirable traits, generally have incorrect conformation, and may have significant health and soundness issues.[8] Therefore, many miniature horse registries try to avoid accepting minis affected by dwarfism for breeding stock registration.[17] In 2014, a commercial DNA test became available for one set of dwarfism mutations. The four mutations of the ACAN gene are known to cause dwarfism or aborted fetuses in miniature horses. The test does not detect the mutations that cause skeletal atavism in miniature horses and some ponies, or the osteochondrodysplasia dwarfism seen in some horse breeds.[18]

The oldest living horse on record was a miniature horse affected by dwarfism named Angel who lived with the Horse Protection Society of North Carolina and lived to be over 50.[7] The current record holder for the world's smallest horse is also a horse affected by dwarfism, Thumbelina, who is fully mature but stands 17 inches (43 cm) tall and weighs 60 pounds (27 kg). Though she has received considerable publicity, her owners have publicly stated that she will not be bred.[19] In 2010 a 6-pound (2.7 kg) miniature horse foal named Einstein challenged Thumbelina for the title of the World's Smallest Horse in part based upon the idea that there should be a separate world record category for the smallest non-dwarf horse.[20]





Pzark mountain mini tack




My name is Aimee Davis and I own Painted H Ranch along with my husband Dustin Davis and my mom Penny Holliday. My passion for horses came from my father, Fred Holiday, he had horses from the time I was born and I certainly got the bug. I have ridden hunters from a very young age and also evented through college. Miniatures came into our lives in 1993. One of my dad's employees owned and showed miniatures and got me started. We purchased our first miniature in 1996 -- Shamrocks Irish Rose aka "Rose" -- she has since been retired from the show ring, but she is still a permanent fixture at PHR. 


Other special miniatures that paved the way include my first gelding Rolins Country Image aka "Dealer." Dealer took me to my first AMHA World Show in 1998 in Reno, Nevada where I earned top 10 honors in all four of my classes. The following year we returned and won my first AMHA World Championship in Country Pleasure Driving along with other top ten honors. 
The following year my mom & I bought my dad his first miniature so he could join in all the fun. Ultra Eagle Feather aka "Feather" -- he was a surprise birthday present for my dad. 

In 2001 I started college California Polytechnic University Pomona. The following year we headed back to Texas for the AMHA World Show & Feather and I won World Champion in amateur jumpers - and he went on to do it again the following year. 2002 was also a milestone for my dad – he earned his first World Top Ten in Gentleman’s Single Pleasure Driving with LM Supreme Barcelona aka "Barcelona". 

In 2003 I started showing a new gelding - Brewers Vanilla Ice aka "Iceman". Iceman holds the title of World Champion & Reserve in Showmanship and Obstacle Driving and numerous top tens in other performance classes including hunters. In 2007 Iceman and I earned AMHA Western Championships High Point Amateur and then AMHA Reserve Super Amateur at the AMHA World Show. 

At the World Show in 2004 we purchased my dad's dream horse Dream Makers Black Tie aka "Tie". In 2005 at our first show of the year – Arizona Touch of Class the pair earned the High Point Amateur Award. When we returned home from that show my dad was diagnosed with cancer and we lost him later that year - it was really hard to continue with the horses, but it is my passion, and I know my dad wouldn't have wanted me to give that up. 


In 2004 we also moved to a horse ranch in Chino Hills so I could start my own breeding program. We have 5-10 foals each year. I have found a new love for breeding and foaling. We celebrated our 10th foal crop in 2016 and have been awarded some exceptional honors for our home grown foals, a few highlights include:


PHR ZP Rogue

Supreme Halter Champion 

Multiple National Champion 

National Grand Champion Mare, Under


PHR ZP Colossus

Multiple National Champion

National Grand Champion Gelding, Over


PHR Jesse's Belle Starr

Supreme Halter Champion

2x World Reserve Champion 


PHR Phantom Insignia

National Reserve Champion 

World Champion 


We breed to produce our next show horse and also offer a select group of quality foals available for purchase We pride ourselves on producing beautiful athletic horses that excel in both halter and driving. Please consider us whether you are looking for your next show horse or a quality pet.


Thanks for stopping by! Please enjoy our website!,h_134,al_c,lg_1/c19f53_2267e130abf049caa193991e2cc690d4.png

Aimee, Dustin & HJ










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