Both pet owners and avid horse riders love miniature horses. Although many horse owners choose minis as companion animals for their full-size horses, some owners choose minis due to their smaller space requirements. With these decreased pasture needs, how much space does a miniature horse need?
How Much Space Does a Miniature Horse Need?
Most miniature horses, although significantly smaller than standard horses, use standard stalls. A standard stall is typically a 12’x12′, some smaller sizes are 10’x10′. Although miniature horses do well in 6’x8′ sized stalls, it is usually more economical and easier to use a standard measurement. 6’x8′ does provide enough room to lay and move around as needed, but a 10×10’+ will provide additional room. This may also be important for future animals or resale of the property and barn in the future.
Pasture requirements are vastly different for minis! Whether a companion animal for a large horse or a hobby farm addition on small acreage, minis are a great option if space is an issue. Three miniature horses can live comfortably on only 1 acre of land! In spring and summer months when the grass is lush, this space may also provide enough forage during turnout. The individual minimum land requirement for a miniature horse is usually 1/4 of an acre per mini. However, large minis may need 1/3 to 1/2 acre.
The smaller the space, however, the more likely your mini will need additional exercise. Although it may be hard to think of a mini in the same capacity as a full-sized horse, minis have the same need to expend energy and stretch out. Small farms are ideal for miniature horses, so long as they have the opportunity to run and play.
Backyard Friends and State Law
Many people with larger yard sizes in suburban areas ask about keeping miniature horses in their backyard. With the growing use of miniature horses as therapy horses, many owners do not live in rural areas. Space requirements do not change for minis; however, some areas will allow residents to apply for permits. Many states only have restrictions on “split hoof” animals (such as cattle or sheep) in residential areas. As long as the minimum space requirements are met, many areas will allow miniature horses or permits for minis. However, the space requirements are different as per local ordinance. We recommend checking with your local and state laws before planning on putting a mini in your backyard!
Read more about Cost to Feed a Horse: A Complete Guide
Full-Size Horse Comparison – How Much Space Does a Miniature Horse Need?
Although three minis can comfortably live on one-acre, full-size horses require significantly more space. A good rule of thumb is 1.5-2 acres per horse. This is a minimum recommendation, however. This space should be enough for a horse to run freely, poop away from highly grazed areas, and will provide sufficient forage if growing grass. However, full-sized horses frequently require more exercise than minis and can find themselves getting into trouble when kept in smaller spaces. Most counties will also have ordinances regarding space requirements for horses when kept at a residence.
As for stalls, the minimum stall size for full-sized horses is 10’x10’. This increases depending on the breed and size. For example, warmblood or draft breeds (and larger horses such as Saddlebreds) will likely require a minimum stall size of 12’x12’. It is important a horse can move freely in the stall as well as lay down without being forced to lay directly in manure or urine. (If they do this on their own accord it’s one thing, but horses should be able to avoid it if they want to.)
Variables that Affect Mini horse’s Space Requirements
Again, several factors can affect a miniature horse’s space requirements. Young frisky horses with lots of playtime and movement will do better in larger spaces, whereas slower-moving senior horses may not need as much. As horse numbers increase, space requirements must increase to avoid potential injury and over-grazing. Regardless of your opinion on “appropriate” space, legal requirements must be met in your area. Some counties grant exceptions to registered boarding or show facilities where horses are stalled full-time but receive daily turnout and work for exercise. This is especially important for facilities grandfathered into some city limit areas.
Final Thoughts – How Much Space Does a Miniature Horse Need?
Although minis are fun and far easier to keep on smaller land, it is important to remember they are still horses. Their needs and wants are the same as full-sized horses, just scaled back in size to some degree. Whether a companion, backyard grazer or hobby-farm addition, make sure you provide adequate space for your miniature horse!
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