Last Updated on April 5, 2022
Low maintenance and easy to look after, miniature horses are becoming increasingly popular around the world. But did you know that there are different types of miniature horses? Let’s take a look at the miniature horse breeds list and find out all about these tiny horses!
Each type of miniature horse has its own distinctive appearance and characteristics. Many people prefer one type of miniature horse over another. However, they are all popular in their own right.
What Are Mini Horse Breeds?
It can be easy to get confused about what a miniature horse is. Surely, they are just ponies, right?
Well, miniature horses are actually quite different from ponies! Miniature horses have been selectively bred to reduce the height of the breed. The aim is to retain the characteristics of a horse, just at a smaller size
This means that miniature equines really do look like shrunken-down versions of horses! For this reason, they are normally classified as horses. Even though their small size means that they should be in the same category as ponies.
Best Types Of Mini Horses
You might be wondering what the point is of creating small horses. These little equines are normally too small to be ridden. Some mini horses may be able to pull a small cart. However, mini horses do have their uses! They are often kept as family pets, giving children a great start to the world of horse care.
Miniature horses can also make good service animals. They are able to assist people with physical or mental difficulties. These tiny horses are also very good at in-hand equestrian competitions. They can excel at equine agility, and make great little scurry ponies.
So, let’s take a look at the different types of mini horses and find out all about them!
Miniature Horse Breeds List
Here are some incredible breeds of horses who are tiny in stature, but big in personality! Miniature horses are normally bred for their calm and amenable temperament but don’t expect them to give you a trouble-free life. Keeping a miniature horse can be just as challenging as owning their full-size counterparts.
The Falabella is one of the smallest breeds of horse in the world. They stand between 28 and 34 inches tall. This tiny breed originates from Argentina, where it was created by careful selective breeding.
The original bloodstock for Falabella horses comes from Spanish and other Iberian horses, which were taken to South America. The smallest of these horses were bred together, to create horses that were less than 40 inches tall.
Later, other bloodlines were introduced, including Welsh and Shetland ponies. This helped to decrease the size of the Falabella even further, to an average of just 30 inches tall.
Physically, Falabella horses are very similar to Thoroughbreds and Arabians in appearance. They have a fine and athletic body, with delicate features. Their thicker coat comes from the pony bloodlines.
American Miniature Horse
The world of American Miniature Horses is slightly complicated, with two different associations each holding their own studbook.
The first of these, the American Miniature Horse Association, includes horses up to 34 inches tall. The second, the American Miniature Horse Registry, increases this height limit to 38 inches, with two different classes of American Miniature Horse.
Whichever breed register they belong to, both types of American Miniature Horses are similar in many ways. They appear very much like a regular-sized horse that has been shrunk down. They are a refined and delicate breed, with elegant features.
This is a friendly and gentle breed of horse, which can be playful and curious. American Miniature Horses make a great children’s pet, helping them to learn about horse care. This breed is also often used as a therapeutic horse.
The Caspian miniature horse breed originates from Iran and is believed to be one of the oldest horse breeds in the world. Threatened with extinction at one point, an intensive breeding program has boosted the population of this horse. However, the Caspian horse is still very rare.
Caspian horses are fine and elegant animals, standing between 39 and 47 inches tall. They are proud in appearance, with a small head and intelligent features.
Caspian miniature horse breed can be used as a riding pony for small children. It is nimble and athletic and often excels at equestrian sports. Caspian horses crossed with Welsh ponies make highly desirable children’s riding mounts.
Dutch Miniature Horse
Otherwise known as the Nederlands Mini Paarden, the Dutch Mini Horse is the result of a breeding program aimed at creating a European breed of a miniature horse. This is a relatively new breed of horse, with the studbook established less than 30 years ago.
The aim was to create a horse which was a miniature replica of a riding horse. Breeders used bloodlines such as Welsh and Hackney horses, crossed with American Miniature Horses.
The Dutch Miniature Horse is elegant and well-proportioned, with a strong and athletic physique.
Miniature Horse Fun Facts!
- Many breeds of miniature horses have a longer lifespan than larger horses. American Miniature Horses often live up to 35 years of age!
- Due to inbreeding, sadly many miniature horses suffer from health problems. The most common of these are dental issues and colic.
- Miniature horses only eat between two and four pounds of food a day!
- In the 19th century, the wife of French emperor Napoleon III owned a mini horse. This tiny horse was used to entertain children at the palace and pull a small carriage.
- The smallest known horse is called Thumbelina. This minuscule mare measured just 17.5 inches tall!
So, as our miniature horse breeds list has revealed, a miniature horse is not a pony – it is a small horse. There are several types of miniature horses with very different appearances and characteristics. However, they all have one thing in common – they should look like a tiny version of a horse, and not a pony.
We would love to hear about your experiences with miniature horses – have you ever owned one? Perhaps you have a favorite type of miniature horse? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you!
Are miniature horses smart?
Miniature horses are known for their intelligence and playfulness. These equines are friendly, gentle, playful, docile, social, and inquisitive in general, making them a perfect addition to any home and a perfect companion animal. A miniature horse can be a wonderful pet; they are affectionate, they learn quickly and are obedient and easygoing. Because of their willingness to learn new things, miniature horses are often good candidates for therapy and equine-assisted activities. They can be trained to become service animals, to assist with activities of daily living, or to be companions in the home. They are also popular for showing in equestrian events, because of their graceful and gentle nature.
What is the difference between mini horse and pony?
Miniature horses are usually much finer than ponies, with more delicate grace and elegance. Ponies are often quite compact, whereas miniature horses have muscular bodies with a slender conformation. Miniature horses do not have the same look of thick necks and shoulders as ponies.
What is the smallest horse you can buy?
The Falabella is an Argentinian breed of small horse. They are among the smallest of horse breeds with a height at the withers ranging from 63 to 86 centimeters. They have similar conformation to Thoroughbreds or Arabs, with a sleek coat and a slender frame. Falabella’s body is small and compact with some pony and cob features from pony bloodlines, such as sturdy bone and a thicker hair coat. Bay and black are the most common colors, but pinto, palomino, and other spotting patterns are also found. The Falabella is commonly kept as a pet or used for show. It can be ridden by small children, or trained to pull a small cart.
Is a Shetland pony a miniature horse?
Shetland ponies are not miniature horses but ponies. The smallest of the native British ponies, the Shetland pony, is only one of the many breeds of horse in the UK.
The Shetland Pony originated from the native ponies that inhabited the islands centuries ago. They evolved to be this size due to the harsh climate on the Shetland isles. They are hardy and extremely strong for their size.
The Shetland Pony has a very calm temperament. They are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and ability to work, but they can also be stubborn if not handled right. The Shetland pony is a very loving pony and they are great family pets. They are an excellent choice for children and adults alike.
Is miniature horse a breed?
The miniature horse is not considered a specific breed, it’s rather a term to describe wide range of small horses. It wasn’t until the 17th century that miniature horses made their appearance in Europe. Their cute, cuddly appearance made them popular as pets of the various royal families. Today, they are widely recognized and admired as a companion animal and a family horse, with many miniature horses found in households across the world. The Miniature Horse Association of America (MHAA) was formed in 1983 to help promote the miniature horse industry and protect the well-being of these animals. The MHAA represents the miniature horse industry in the United States, including breeders, owners, exhibitors, and those who love miniature horses.
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