Last Updated on April 19, 2023
It is easy to see the attraction of adorable mini horses, but can you ride a miniature horse? And what else can they be used for?
Miniature horses are tiny versions of a full-sized horse, and, while it is tempting to treat a mini horse differently to their larger relatives, you must remember that they are still a horse and need to be cared for in the same way as any other equine. However, when deciding if a mini horse can be ridden, there are certain factors and precautions you need to consider.
If you are considering buying a miniature horse, let’s find out whether you could ride it, and what other fun activities you could do with your new equine buddy!
Can You Ride A Miniature Horse?
Under certain circumstances, some miniature horses can be ridden, but only if the rider is small enough and the horse is physically strong enough. As a general rule, larger miniature horses can be ridden by children weighing 70 pounds or less, but smaller miniature ponies should not be ridden.
However, whether a miniature horse can be ridden or not depends on more than just the size of the horse. Some larger miniature horses should still not be ridden, as they are not physically capable of carrying a rider.
Are Ponies And Miniature Horses The Same?
Ponies and miniature horses are not the same – minature horses are specifically bred to have the characteristics of a full-size horse, but in a smaller body. Ponies have characteristics of their own which set them apart from horses.
Ponies tend to have strong, muscular bodies, and their legs are shorter in proportion to their bodies than horses. So, if you were to stand a miniature horse and native pony of the same size side-by-side, you would notice that their body proportions were very different. Two excellent examples to compare would be a Shetland pony and an American Miniature Horse – very different body shapes altogether!
The reason why not all miniature horses can be ridden is because of this difference in body shape. Although most miniature horse breeds have been developed by breeding smaller horses with ponies, they have retained the physical characteristics of horses. They are not as muscular and strong as ponies of the same size, and cannot always take the weight of a rider.
Another issues is that, unfortunately, some miniature horses have inherited a specific dwarfism gene that causes disproportionate conformation. If your miniature horse appears out of proportion, with a long back and short legs, it should definitely not be ridden. These miniature horses are at a high risk of injury and should only be kept as pets.
How Much Weight Can A Mini Horse Take?
The subject of how much weight a horse can carry is increasingly debated. It is also a sensitive topic to discuss as it can cause offense to some riders. When discussing weights a horse can take, it is important to consider the whole picture and find a balance between science and reality.
The weight that a horse can carry is normally calculated as no more than 20-percent of its body weight, including the weight of the saddle. For optimal performance, such as in racehorses and elite equine athletes, this figure drops to 10-15%.
So, an average 1,000lb riding horse could carry a rider and saddle weighing up to 200lbs – normally well within the limits of an adult rider and a standard saddle.
But what happens when we apply this 20% rule to miniature horses? Well, the average weight of a miniature horse is between 132 and 353 pounds. Using the formula, it means that a miniature horse can carry a rider and saddle weighing between 26.4 and 70.6 pounds. This normally limits those who can actually ride a miniature horse to toddlers and small children.
Mini horses cannot cope with as much ridden work as larger horses as they lack the strength and stamina. Due to their small size and reduced physical strength, it is important to not go over the maximum weight. Too much weight on a mini horse will cause them pain, strain their back and legs, and make it difficult for them to move.
Based on the percentage rule, smaller children can ride a mini horse. This can be a problem when training a miniature horse to carry a rider, as not all small children are experienced enough to train an unbroken horse.
When a horse is learning to carry a rider, it can react in a dangerous way. Since mini horses are most suited to children, it can create a dangerous situation for a child. This makes training a mini horse difficult since an adult cannot do the initial training. For this reason, many miniature horses are only suitable to be ridden by a child when an adult accompanies them and restrains the horse with a lead rein.
Is Your Mini Horse Rideable?
Just like a full-sized horse, you need to evaluate the horse in front of you to know if it’s rideable. One of the most important factors regarding a mini horse is its temperament since only small children can ride it. Soundness, body condition, and age all factor into deciding if you can ride a mini horse.
Driving A Mini Horse
Driving mini horses is a popular activity. When working out how much a mini horse can pull, apply a similar percentage rule to the one used for riding weight. However, since driving involves pulling a cart with wheels, the maximum weight increases.
To work out how much a mini horse can pull, work out 150-percent of its body weight. In other words, a mini horse that weighs 150-pounds can pull a maxim of 225-pounds. This means that the mini can pull a small, light cart and average-sized adult.
Mini Horses Make Great Companions
Even though mini horses can take limited riding, they are best suited as companions. They have lovely, kind temperaments and enjoy the company of children and other horses. Their small size is less intimidating to kids, which allows them to form great friendships together.
Not only do mini horses make great companions for children, and even adults, they are perfect for larger horses that need a friend.
Can You Keep A Miniature Horse In Your Backyard?
While miniature horses may be cute and adorable, they are still horses and need to be treated as such! They take up less space than a full-size horses, but will still need a place to shelter and room to run, play, and exercise.
The minimum space for one miniature horse is around 1/4 acre, which is considerably larger than the average backyard! Horses do not like to be kept alone, so it would be advisable to have a pair of miniature horses on a minimum of 1/2 acre of land.
Fun Activities For Mini Horses
If you can’t ride your mini horse, it doesn’t mean you can’t experience hours of fun with him. Here is a list of just some activities you can do together.
- In hand jumping
- Liberty training
- In hand showing
- Obstacle courses
- Therapy visits
- Showmanship competitions
Interesting Mini Horse Facts
Mini horses usually live longer than full-sized horses, with many reaching the age of 35 or older. The American Miniature Horse Association states that a mini horse cannot stand taller than 34-inches.
Mini Horse History
The mini horse was carefully developed over decades and refined into the breed we see today. The mini horse was first found in Europe in the 18th-century. The first mini horses pulled carts in mines, and some lucky ones became the pets of royalty.
The first mini horses arrived in the United States in the 19th-century. These first US minis also work in mines, like their European counterparts. The breed’s only resemblance to ponies is its small size.
In all other ways, build, temperament, and genetically minis are more like horses.
One specific type of miniature horse is the Falabella. The Falabella originates in Argentina, where the breeder wanted to create the perfect horse in miniature. Falabellas can trace their origins to a mixture of thoroughbreds, Shetland ponies, Arabians, quarter horses, and possibly the Welsh pony.
The first Falabella arrived in the United States in 1962.
While you can ride a mini horse if you’re small enough, it isn’t what these adorable little horses are meant for. You can enjoy many non-riding activities with a mini. Because a mini costs less to feed, they make great companions to larger horses.
If you do train your mini horse to carry a small rider, make sure it is safe to put a child on. Finally, use tack that fits the mini horse correctly, especially make sure the saddle does not sit too far on its back.
If you have any questions, pop them in the comments below.
Are mini horses hard to care for?
Miniature horses are fun and enjoyable animals to raise and care for. They are usually easy to care for and their cost is much lower than that of a full size horse. Miniature horses can be kept in any stable or barn setting. They do not require a stall, paddock or other large space as full-sized horses do. However, just like all horses, mini horses need to have access to a well-maintained water source and hay. Miniature horses are very smart and quick learners, which makes them great pets. They are extremely loyal to their owners and their families. They love to be around people and will be very eager to please their human companions.
What age can you ride a mini horse?
With proper supervision, kids can start riding a mini horse at about the age of 2-3 years old. Some schools do even offer courses for toddlers. The sooner a child gets used to being around horses and handle them, the faster they get comfortable around those animals and the easier it is for kids to learn how to ride.
What is the point of a mini horse?
Miniature horses are great pets for many reasons. They are smaller in size than larger horses and are more affordable to own. They are also easier to care for and have a more kind personality than larger horses. Miniature horses are generally not very loud and do not have much of a bad smell. They are also less intimidating than larger horses and make great companions for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities due to their small size and gentle personality. Miniature horses are a great choice for any person looking to have a fun and healthy pet.
What do miniature horses eat?
The American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) has been offering a free mini horse nutrition and feeding program for many years. The program is now called the Mini Horse Feeding Program. The purpose of the program is to educate horse owners on how to feed their miniature horses a balanced diet. There are no minimum or maximum amounts of any particular ingredient required. All ingredients must be fed in adequate amounts to ensure that your horse is getting all the nutrients it needs. In average, a miniature horse should eat from 2 to 4 pounds of forage per day. The hay should be a fine, soft, leafy hay rather than a coarse, mature hay. If fed too much, the horse’s digestive system could become compromised and it can experience weight gain.
How big do miniature horses get?
Miniature horses are generally shorter than 3 feet tall. In the United States, the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) says that a miniature horse can be maximum 34 inches tall at the withers. An average a miniature horse weighs around 200 pounds.
Miniature horses are one of the most peculiar of all horse breeds. They are usually found in large herds and are kept for their gentle nature and good temperament. They are also well-suited for children. The first miniature horses were bred in France in the late 18th century. In the early 20th century, the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) began breeding the horses.
Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.