Last Updated on March 15, 2023
Planning on buying a miniature horse? The mini horse price tag may make these little equines seem cheap, but it is vital to factor in their living expenses too! Mini horses can make fabulous family pets, but if you are considering buying one then you’ll need to be aware of all the additional costs too. Let’s take a look at the average mini horse price, plus all the other expenses that might crop up along the way.
Mini Horse Price: How Much Does a Miniature Horse Cost to Buy?
Have you ever wanted to own a horse, and the cost has scared you off? Or do you completely lack the space to keep one? Good news! No, no, BEST news! Miniature horses are for you! Or, at least they could be… Let’s go through a piece-by-piece breakdown of exactly how much a miniature horse costs, as well as a monthly breakdown of their upkeep.
As with any breed of horse, the average mini-horse price varies… a lot. A high-end show mini can sell anywhere from $2,000 to $50,000+. If you’re looking to buy a mini horse for the first time, chances are good you’re not looking to purchase a world-class show mini.
In this cost break down we will be looking into miniature horses for home use, to be kept as family pets, or local-level show circuits. These types of mini horses rarely sell for more than $4,000, and it is quite easy to find a trained mini for less than $1,000, especially if you are willing to travel for the right match.
So, the initial outlay for a miniature horse can be quite low – a young miniature horse is no more expensive than some pedigree dog breeds! But if you’re considering buying a miniature horse, it is not just the mini horse price you need to take into consideration. As with any pet, there are daily, weekly, monthly, and annual living expenses to budget for, and these can add up to a substantial amount!
Let’s take a look at how much money you need to put aside to care for your new miniature horse.
Mini Horse Price: Cost of Caring for a Miniature Horse
It is not the cost of buying a horse that leads most horse owners into financial difficulties, but the unexpected cost of caring for a horse can turn out to be far more expensive than expected. It is vital to budget ahead for regular living costs, and also have a plan for if any additional expenses arise. To take the guesswork out of this calculation, we’ve broken down the regular care costs of a mini horse for you:
Feed and supplements
The good news is that miniature horses do eat way less than a regular-sized horses, so this is one part of the living costs which should be lower. You should budget for your mini to eat 1.5% of their body weight every day in the hay. Hay can cost anywhere from $4 -$15 a bale, and the average miniature horse goes through about 4 pounds of hay per day. That’s pretty great on the budget considering an adult large breed horse can go through 15 to 40 pounds of hay a day.
Most miniature horses can live on very little grain, and this is not normally a necessary part of their diet. Ideally, they should be fed good quality hay that provides the majority of the energy, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that they need. To be sure that they are getting what they need from their hay you can have your hay tested, enabling you to correct any deficiencies in their diet.
The best feed for miniature horses is a good feed balancer pellet, as it focuses on vitamins and minerals, without the high calories that come with regular grain. A sack of feed balancers will cost around $40 but should last for several months.
Another way to get the necessary nutrients into your mini horse is to give a vitamin and mineral supplement with a low-calorie pelleted feed. This can work out cheaper than a feed balancer, and should still provide everything your horse needs. The low amount of feed supplement required by a mini horse can cost as little as 10 cents per day for a basic brand.
One way that many horse owners strive to reduce feed costs is by allowing their horses access to pasture land. If you have a large property and you were hoping to cut feed costs by throwing your mini out on the grass field, wild and free, this is not always a great idea. While they will tell you they love their life out on the grass, most miniature horses are particularly prone to obesity, leading to founder and laminitis. Mini horses are most commonly kept on dry lots and their weight must be monitored carefully while on the grass.
Read more about How Much Space Does A Miniature Horse Need?
Housing & waste management
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a dry lot, paddock, and barn to keep your mini horse in, there are still some associated costs involved. The number one problem is one that many horse owners fail to consider – all that hay we’re feeding our horses will come out in the form of poo!
So, now that we’ve fed them, what oh what, do we do with all that poo? Well, you have a couple of options here.
If you can board your mini at a specialist equine facility, they will most likely dispose of any manure for you. Just imagine, you’d never have to think about poo again! Umm yea right… once you own a horse you smell like poo, you look like poo, you have poo on your feet, and you’ll probably have a dream about poo too. That’s right. Enjoy that.
The other issue is that it can be harder than you’d think to board a miniature horse. Most boarding facilities are not set up for the entirely different lifestyle that a mini needs, (fencing, turn-out arrangements, bucket levels,) and may turn you away. So we are going to look into homegrown care for your mini.
Check some approx. prices of boarding a mini horse here.
Back to poo! The very best use for all that manure is to put it in your garden! Horse manure is the best free fertilizer, ever. When rotted down, it can be used for your flower beds, and your neighbors would most likely love to come and help themselves to it as well for their own garden needs. Open up your manure mountain to your neighbors for their use, and the pile will stay manageable with no costs involved at all.
Failing this, your other option is to have your horse’s manure and waste bedding carted away. There are waste management options for this – many dumps will deliver you a new bin each week to fill, which they will remove and dump for you. These can run from $50 to $1000 a month, depending on the size of your bin, as well as the number of picks up and drop-offs you need each month.
There are also arraignments you can make with local farmers to come and take away your manure, as they rarely turn down free fertilizer.
Mini Horse Price: Monthly and Annual Costs
OK, so that’s your daily feed costs taken care of, but what else do miniature horses need? Being a horse owner means taking care of the overall health and well-being of your equine friend, and this can lead to some unexpected expenses.
Here are some regular costs you will need to budget for if buying a mini horse:
Trimming and shoeing
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because mini horses have small feet their farrier costs will be lower! Like any horse or pony, miniature horses require a trim from a registered farrier every six to eight weeks. The price of trim can range from $30-100 dollars, and the cost does not tend to be lower for smaller horses. Mini horses are rarely shod, but some do require special shoes, which can run upwards of $400.
Miniature horse health
Vets are not just for emergencies – all horses need routine preventive care to keep them fit and healthy. Once a year you’ll need to schedule a health workup on your mini to check they are fit and healthy. Miniature horses also require dental work once or twice a year, as well as annual and seasonal vaccinations. Depending on your barn, or your traveling agenda, you may also need a Coggins test and a health certificate.
The cost of dental work averages between $100-$200. Vaccinations can be as low as $60 if you do them yourself, or over $200 with the vet administering this cost will vary depending on what shots your horse requires. You can expect a Coggins and health certificate to be no less than $50. Veterinarians are now recommending all breeds of horses be dewormed two times a year, costing an average of $40 annually.
Even if you’ve got the average monthly horse vet bills covered, don’t forget to budget for an emergency! It’s hard to plan for an unknown cost, but it’s better to have an emergency fund set aside than to realize you truly can’t afford to help your miniature horse in the case of an emergency. Nothing is more heartbreaking than having to make a difficult decision based on cost.
Set aside what you can afford each month, and let it rack up in a savings account until you have a hefty emergency fund. You should aim to have enough to cover the surgery if they should need it. Alternatively, consider taking out a comprehensive insurance policy that covers your miniature horse for all unexpected veterinary bills.
Like any horse, miniature horses require secure fencing and adequate shelter from the elements. A simple lean-to is an excellent shelter option, allowing your horse the freedom to come and go as it pleases, with the option to get away from bugs, sun, wind, and rain.
Fencing is the biggest difficulty when it comes to miniature horses – don’t underestimate their ability to get out! Standard paddock fencing is normally insufficient for keeping a mini horse contained. Try to set them up in a normal horse enclosure, and they will be out and on the rampage faster than Houdini himself!
Hard round panel fencing works well for miniature horses, with full wire fencing covering the fence so they can’t stick their heads between the bars. If turning your mini out with larger horses, consider placing one or two strands of electrified wire at a lower height to deter the smaller equines from squeezing under the fence rails.
How Much Space Does a Miniature Horse Need?
While mini horses might be small, they still need some room to roam and stretch their legs. Keeping a mini horse in a small yard does not allow it to run, play, explore, and forage, and it may become withdrawn and depressed. It is recommended that you have at least one acre of land per three mini horses, but check your local zoning laws for size requirements.
Mini’s are herd animals, and it is strongly recommended if you are keeping your mini at home, that you provide at least one other animal for company. This can be another horse (large or small breed,) donkey, lama, zebra, goat, or sheep – any socializing opportunities will be good for their mental and emotional health. Mini’s are absolutely not meant to be solitary animals and should never be kept alone.
What Can You Do With A Miniature Horse?
So you’ve got your miniature horse and his faithful buddy home, tucked into their new shelter and swanky mini-proof fence… now what? Don’t think they are suited to walking around the backyard and nothing more! There is a wonderful show world available to them. Miniature horses are shown competitively at both local and national levels, and every year there is a World Championship Show held in Fort Worth, TX.
Miniature horses have a wide range of classes and disciplines available to them. They can be shown in halter classes where they are judged on their appearance; in-hand performance classes, such as in hand trail, jumping, showmanship, and liberty; and in a multitude of different disciplined cart driving classes.
Unfortunately, minis are rarely appropriate to ride, even for children. It is important to remember that horses should never hold more than 20% of their body weight. For a 250-pound miniature horse, that is 50 pounds, including tack. Saddles weigh anywhere from 20-40 pounds on their own.
Don’t be discouraged, mini’s are VERY popular in the cart classes because they can pull full-sized adults and youth alike. So, even if your mini horse cannot be ridden, it can still have a fun and fulfilling working life!
How Much Does it Cost to Geld a Mini Horse?
Many people mistakenly assume the cost of medical and surgical procedures for mini horses will be cheaper, but this is often not the case! Although these little horses require a lower dose of drugs and medication, all the other costs of veterinary treatment are normally the same as for a full-size horse. It can often be tricky to carry out procedures on mini horses, and you may find you end up paying more than for a larger horse!
One example of this is when it comes to gelding a mini horse. In larger horses, the normal procedure for gelding is to do it while the horse is standing upright. Sedation, painkillers, and local anesthetic are used to keep the horse calm, quiet, and free from pain.
Unfortunately, when it comes to mini horses, this technique is not always possible! They are so low to the ground that the veterinarian cannot access the surgical site easily, making it impossible to carry out the operation in a normal manner. So, to deal with this problem, mini horses are normally gelded under general anesthetic.
A general anesthetic is a more complex and high-risk procedure and requires more personnel than a standing castration. Some veterinarians will carry out this procedure at your barn, but others will require the horse to attend the veterinary clinic.
Another common complication of mini horses is that they often have one testicle which is not fully descended. This makes both the operation and aftercare more complex, increasing the costs even further.
However, do not let this put you off having your mini horse gelded! Many horse sanctuaries report an influx of entire male mini horses being signed over, as their owners cannot cope with their stallion-like behavior. So, if you need to get your mini horse castrated, give your local veterinary a call to chat about the cost.
How Much Does a Service Miniature Horse Cost?
Their small size and lovable nature make miniature horses a great choice as service animals. These tiny equines can fulfill a range of different roles, such as balance and mobility assistance, guide animal, or emotional support for people with disabilities. Miniature horses are the only other animal apart from dogs that can be officially recognized as service animals!
At present, miniature horses are not widely available as service animals, and it may be that you need to train one yourself or hire someone to do it for you. The average cost of a miniature horse starts at around $500, and you need to factor in the cost of caring for the animal on top of this. However, the long lifespan of a miniature horse means your service animal will be with you for many years.
Miniature horse service animals are permitted into all places that service dogs are, as long as they are fully trained. This means they must be house-trained, to ensure they will not go to the toilet in inappropriate places. And if house-training a horse sounds like a crazy idea, it is perfectly possible!
Cute as a Button
With the appropriate care and budgeting system, minis are an excellent and economical option for horse ownership. Plus, there is nothing cuter than a miniature horse. We in the horse world stand united on a few things, but this is definitely one of them. Here’s to the little guys!
The American Miniature Horse Association put together an awesome comparison sheet for miniature horses vs large breed horses. Check it out here: AMHA – The Profitability of Miniature Horses
Did we miss something? Let us know! Comment below on the biggest expenses you have with Miniature Horse ownership, and tell us how you budget to keep your minis happy and healthy.
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.