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Miniature Marvels

There's a growing trend that's capturing the hearts of many New Zealanders | Keeping miniature horses.

Keeping Miniature Horses

These pint-sized equines may be small in stature, but they bring immense joy, companionship, and a touch of whimsy to any rural property. Beyond their charm, miniature horses are also incredibly versatile. 
If you're considering adding these miniature marvels to your lifestyle block, here's everything you need to know to make them feel right at home.

The Appeal of Miniature Horses

Miniature horses, with their adorable features and gentle demeanor, are captivating creatures that appeal to people of all ages. They offer the enchantment of a horse in a compact package, making them ideal companions for both children and adults alike. They can be trained for various activities, from driving and agility to therapy work and simply being delightful pasture pals.

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 A little human help is greatly appreciated when shedding our winter coat!

Proud mamma with her new edition at Appletons!

 
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Proud mamma with her new edition at Appletons!

Popular Breeds

Miniature horses come in various breeds, each with its own unique characteristics and traits. Whether you're drawn to the elegance of the Falabella, the rugged charm of the Miniature Shetland, or the colorful coat patterns of the Miniature Paint, there's a miniature horse breed to suit every preference and lifestyle. Here are some of the most popular miniature horse breeds:

  • Miniature Horse
    The American Miniature Horse is perhaps the most well-known and widely recognized miniature horse breed. They typically stand at 34 inches or less at the withers and exhibit refined, horse-like proportions. Miniature Horses come in a variety of colors and patterns.
  • Shetland Pony
    While Shetland Ponies are primarily known as a pony breed, there is also a miniature version known as the Miniature Shetland Pony. Miniature Shetlands share many traits with their larger counterparts, including a sturdy build, thick mane and tail, and a strong-willed but friendly temperament.
  • Falabella
    Originating from Argentina, the Falabella is one of the oldest and smallest miniature horse breeds. They stand at around 30 inches or less and often exhibit a refined appearance with elegant proportions. Falabellas are known for their gentle nature and versatility in various equestrian disciplines.
  • Miniature Appaloosa
    These miniature horses share their distinctive spotted coat pattern with their full-sized Appaloosa counterparts. Miniature Appaloosas come in a range of colors and patterns, including leopard, blanket, and snowflake. They are prized for their striking appearance and calm disposition.
  • Miniature Paint Horse
    Miniature Paint Horses are bred from full-sized Paint Horses and exhibit the breed's characteristic coat patterns, including tobiano, overo, and tovero. They often display a combination of white and other colors, such as black, bay, chestnut, or palomino. Miniature Paints are known for their versatility and are often seen in both halter and performance classes.
  • American Miniature Mediterranean Donkey
    While not a horse breed per se, miniature donkeys are sometimes included in miniature equine circles. The American Miniature Mediterranean Donkey is a diminutive version of the standard Mediterranean Donkey, standing at 36 inches or less. They are known for their gentle disposition, intelligence, and charming appearance.
shetland pony behind good fencing

Setting Up Your Miniature Equine Haven

Before bringing miniature horses onto your lifestyle block, it's essential to ensure you have the appropriate setup to meet their needs. Here are some key considerations:

  • Shelter
    Provide a cozy shelter or stable where your miniatures can seek refuge from the elements, especially during inclement weather. Ensure adequate ventilation and space for each horse to lie down comfortably.
  • Fencing
    Secure your property with sturdy fencing to contain your miniature horses safely. Fencing should be horse-proof, with no gaps or sharp edges that could injure your equine companions.
  • Pasture
    Offer ample pasture space for grazing and exercise. Rotate pastures periodically to prevent overgrazing and maintain optimal grass health. Consider using electric fencing for rotational grazing.
  • Feeding
    Provide a balanced diet consisting of high-quality hay or pasture, supplemented with appropriate minerals and possibly a small amount of grain, depending on your horse's nutritional requirements.
  • Healthcare
    Establish a relationship with a veterinarian experienced in equine care to provide routine vaccinations, dental care, and emergency medical attention when needed. Regular hoof care by a skilled farrier is also essential for keeping your miniatures healthy and sound.

Enrichment and Socialization

Miniature horses are highly social animals that thrive on interaction and mental stimulation. Here are some ways to keep them engaged and content:

  • Companionship
    Miniature horses are happiest when they have the company of their own kind. Consider keeping at least two miniatures together to prevent loneliness and boredom.
  • Training and Activities
    Engage your miniature horses in training sessions and enrichment activities to keep their minds sharp and build a strong bond with them. Training can include groundwork, obstacle courses, or even teaching them tricks.
  • Grooming and Bonding
    Spend time grooming your miniatures regularly. Not only does grooming keep their coats healthy and shiny, but it also strengthens the bond between you and your horses.
 

These miniature marvels are sure to bring joy and delight to your rural retreat, so saddle up and embark on this miniature adventure. It's bound to be a journey filled with endless smiles and cherished memories.

Appletons Jack The Miniature Horse

This is Jack at Appletons. He's such a handsome, friendly fella!

Training Miniature Horses

Training miniature horses can be both rewarding and enjoyable, and there are various activities and disciplines in which they can participate. Here are some examples of training for miniature horses:

  • Groundwork
    Groundwork forms the foundation of training for miniature horses (as well as full-sized horses). This includes teaching them basic manners, leading, yielding to pressure, and standing quietly for grooming and handling. Groundwork also encompasses desensitization to various stimuli, such as tarps, flags, and obstacles.
  • Hal​ter Training
    Miniature horses can be trained to wear a halter and lead rope from a young age. Halter training teaches them to respond to cues, stand quietly, and walk politely on a lead.
  • Obstacle Training
    Setting up obstacle courses with cones, poles, bridges, and other objects can help miniatures develop coordination, confidence, and agility. This type of training is not only fun but also beneficial for improving their overall balance and athleticism.
  • Driving
    Miniature horses are well-suited for driving activities, where they pull a cart or carriage. Training for driving involves teaching them to respond to rein cues, understand commands for stopping, turning, and backing up, and acclimating them to the harness and vehicle.
  • Therapy Work
    Miniature horses make excellent therapy animals due to their gentle demeanor and small size. Training for therapy work involves desensitization to various environments and stimuli, as well as teaching them to remain calm and attentive during interactions with people of all ages and abilities.
  • Trick Training
    Miniature horses can learn a variety of tricks, such as bowing, shaking hands, and retrieving objects. Trick training not only provides mental stimulation but also strengthens the bond between horse and handler.
  • Agility
    Similar to dog agility courses, miniature horse agility courses consist of obstacles such as jumps, tunnels, weave poles, and platforms. Agility training enhances the horse's coordination, confidence, and willingness to try new things.
  • Showmanship
    Showmanship is a competitive event where handlers are judged on their presentation and handling of the horse in hand. Training for showmanship involves teaching the horse to stand squarely, walk and trot in hand, and respond promptly to the handler's cues.

Regardless of the type of training you choose, consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key. Always prioritize the safety and well-being of your miniature horse, and tailor the training to suit their individual temperament and abilities. With time and dedication, you'll be amazed at what you and your horse can accomplish together.

We have a range of feeds and bedding available online and we courier nationwide!

We also build quality timber housing in our workshop, and courier nationwide in an easy to assemble kitset format. Talk to us about a custom build to suit your requirements.

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Lucerne Hay | 50L Cardboard Box

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Straw | 50L Cardboard Box | Bedding

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Wood Shavings | Bedding

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Kibbled Maize

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Meadow Hay | 50L Cardboard Box

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