Last Updated on January 9, 2022
If you’ve ever seen a miniature horse, you will know just how tiny they really are! However, many people use their miniature horses to pull small carts. But just how much weight can a miniature horse pull?
Let’s find out all about miniature horses and discover just how much weight they can pull!
What Is A Miniature Horse?
If you’ve assumed that a miniature horse is the same as a pony, think again! The terminology used to describe different types of equines can be very confusing. So, what exactly is the difference between a pony and a miniature horse?
Ponies are smaller equines, normally 14.2 hands high or less. They have very different characteristics and features to full-size horses. They tend to be sturdier and have a resilient and tough nature.
Miniature horses are also smaller than horses but are bred to retain the characteristics of a horse. They will appear very much like a full-size horse that has been shrunk! They are normally quite refined and elegant and need more pampering than a pony.
So, although miniature horses fall into the same size bracket as ponies, they are normally described as horses.
What Are Miniature Horses Used For?
There are several different breeds of miniature horses, all with distinct differences in size, appearance, and characteristics. Most breeds of miniature horses are too small to be ridden, due to a lack of strength and conformational defects. The back and spine of many types of miniature horses are normally too weak to carry a rider.
For this reason, most miniature horses are kept as family pets, or as companions to other horses. They are fun to keep and care for and can be a great introduction to children to the world of horses. Miniature horses are also becoming increasingly popular as service and assistance animals, assisting people with mental or physical disabilities.
Miniature horses may be small, but they are certainly not lacking in intelligence! They can be trained to perform tricks and solve puzzles, and many are talented at in-hand agility and showing competitions.
One of the most popular uses for a miniature horse is for working in harness, and they can pull small carts with ease. These quick-thinking little equines are amazing at scurry driving, able to make sharp turns and negotiate obstacles with ease.
If you are thinking about breaking your miniature horse to harness, it is vital to ensure that you know exactly how much weight they can pull. These tiny equines are very delicate, and they could be injured if they try to pull too much weight.
How Much Weight Can A Miniature Horse Pull?
When it comes to working in a harness, the weight a horse can pull is calculated from its overall bodyweight. The consensus is that any breed of the horse should be able to pull two-thirds of its body weight, provided that a comfortable harness is used that ensures even weight distribution.
This is the minimum that a horse can pull, but under the right conditions, it may be able to pull more. For example, with a small equine like a miniature horse, the cart itself needs to be low to the ground to reduce the amount of work the horse is required to do.
Here are some guidelines to how much a miniature horse could pull under the right conditions:
- Driving on a hard surface with a cart of the correct height, a horse can pull three times its body weight
- On a soft surface with a cart of the correct height, a horse can pull twice its body weight
- On a soft surface with a cart that is too high, a horse can only pull the equivalent to its own body weight.
What Factors Affect How Much Weight A Miniature Horse Can Pull?
There are a few other things to take into consideration when deciding how much weight a horse can pull. These are things that will make pulling a load easier or harder, and will affect the total weight they can pull comfortably:
- The fitness levels of the horse – unfit horses should start with pulling the lowest weight available.
- The road or track surface. Smooth surfaces make pulling a wheeled vehicle easier, whereas mud, gravel, or sand will make it more difficult.
- Steep inclines such as hills will mean the horse needs to work harder.
- Slippery surfaces are harder for the horse to grip, especially when starting and stopping.
- The weight of the vehicle must be added to the weight of the passengers to calculate the overall weight of the load.
When starting to break a miniature horse to harness, you should first allow them to become accustomed to the harness with no weight attached. This is called long-reining and helps them to learn the commands of driving without the hazard of a wagon behind them.
So, How Much Can A Mini Horse Pull?
If we’re working on the calculation that a horse can pull two-thirds of its bodyweight, firstly we need to know how much a miniature horse weighs.
Let’s take a look at the smallest breed of miniature horse – the tiny Falabella. These diminutive equines stand between 28 and 34 inches tall, and need a very small cart indeed!
The weight of a Falabella is normally around 80 kilograms. So, with the right harness and balanced cart, this tiny horse could pull weights of up to 260 kilograms – that is three times its body weight!
However, this weight may put a strain on the delicate joints, muscles, and tendons of this elegant little horse. So, it would be better to start with a lower weight if possible, to reduce the risk of injury.
It is more common to see miniature horses driven in pairs or even groups of four or six. This greatly increases the overall pulling power of these tiny horses!
So, as we have learned, miniature horses can pull weights of up to 260 kilograms. However, they are more commonly used to pull carts in pairs, to increase the amount they can pull and reduce the risk of injury.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about driving miniature horses in harness. Have you ever met broken one of these tiny equines to drive? Or maybe you want to learn more about how much weight a miniature horse can pull? Please add a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Read more about How Much Weight Can A Horse Pull On Wheels?
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE