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Miniature Horse Breeding: Is it Cute or Cruel?

Miniature Horse Breeding: Is it Cute or Cruel?

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There is no doubt about it that miniature horses are absolutely adorable. In fact, breeding miniature horses has become quite popular with many farms breeding these tiny horses.

However, just because they are small doesn’t mean they are a small responsibility. Miniature horses require lots of care and sometimes due to their size, they suffer health problems and other complications.

Breeding miniature horses raises concerns about whether it is always cute or if at times it can be considered cruel.

A Look Into Miniature Horse Breeding

Miniature animals of all sorts are being bred due to their lovable pint-sized appearance. It has recently become a popular trend to own a miniature animal.

Several types of animals such as dogs, sheep, pigs, and cows are being bred at miniature sizes.

Though miniature horses have been bred for nearly 400 years, other horse breeds are now taking the step to go small.

Now, there are even farms breeding miniature Gypsy Vanners and miniature Shetland ponies. The small-scale versions of these horse breeds are stealing people’s hearts as they grow in popularity.

Miniature Arabian horse breed running in tall grass
Miniature Arabian Horse

The world of breeding miniature horses is complex. People breed for many different things such as size, color, style, and build.

There are many quality breeders out there that pay close attention to the needs of their horses, only breeding those which are healthy.

However, there are uneducated breeders looking to make money that don’t take careful consideration when they breed miniature horses.

The ‘Benefits’ of Breeding Miniature Horses

Currently, there are over 200,000 miniature horses registered in 38 countries with the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA).

In order to be registered, horses must meet the breed specifications and not measure more than 34 inches in height at the withers.

According to the AMHA, miniature horses should be “‘miniature’ versions of well-balanced horses, possessing conformation characteristics found in most equine breeds.”

Due to their kind personalities and small size, miniature horses can be bred to be seeing-eye guides, emotional support animals, and therapy horses. They can be trained to provide people with support to help them in their everyday lives.

Many miniature horses are used in driving, halter, jumping, and obstacle divisions. They also make wonderful companions for people and other horses. They can be great horses to own for people of all ages.

Below is a lovely video on how miniature horses visit the sick and elderly. Just look at the smiles on their faces!

Most miniature horse breeders will pay close attention to bloodlines before breeding. Their goal is to produce a healthy horse, with correct conformation and a winning pedigree.

Also, read our guide on the difference between a miniature horse and a pony.

Minis can be bred for any coat color or pattern. Unlike ponies that tend to have short, stocky builds, miniature horses are bred to look like smaller versions of full-sized light horses.

With the right breeding and care, a miniature horse can live to 35 years old. Some good breeders will even test their horse’s genes before breeding to make sure they do not pass down any health issues.

When breeders are responsible, miniature horses can make great horses to own.

The Issues with Breeding Miniature Horses

Unfortunately, miniature horses are more susceptible to obesity, hoof problems, dental problems, and other health issues than regular-sized horses. When minis aren’t carefully bred or cared for, these problems can become a big issue.

When a larger stallion is bred to a younger, smaller mare, the mare is more likely to face struggles during her pregnancy. Since minis are so small, this can lead to dystocia or difficult births. Dystocia is much more prevalent in miniature horses than full-sized breeds.

When dystocia occurs, it can be harder to correct in miniature horses due to the fact they have a smaller uterus, making manual manipulation more difficult.

It is recommended that pregnant minis receive special care and regular vet visits throughout the pregnancy.

Owners are encouraged to have a veterinarian present when the mini is giving birth.

Problems With Excessive Breeding

One of the biggest issues that occur in miniature horses is dwarfism. There are two types of dwarfism, proportional and disproportionate.

Horses with proportional dwarfism are normally healthy, but horses with disproportionate dwarfism typically have many health problems and a shorter life expectancy.

Horse with dwarfism
Photo: The Peeps Foundation

Many miniature horse enthusiasts are against breeding dwarfs. Some of the issues dwarfs can have include crooked legs, hoof problems, cardiac issues, dental problems, roached backs, and digestive problems. Though dwarfs may be cute, they do not have easy lives and require lots of special care.

Genetic testing can be done to see if a horse is a carrier of the dwarf gene. Many miniature horse breeders will not breed dwarves due to all the health issues they can face.

It is important that miniature horse breeders educate themselves on dwarfism and the risks that come with it.

Purchasing a Miniature Horse

If you are interested in purchasing a miniature horse, it is best to buy from a reputable breeder or a rescue organization. Buying from a reputable breeder can help ensure that you are getting a well-bred, healthy horse.

See the directory of responsible miniature breeders here on the American Miniature Horse Association website.

The average price of a Miniature horse is between $800 to $5,000. Rescue organizations are a great option for adopting a miniature horse in need. Regardless of where you get your miniature horse, it is important to realize all the care and time they need.

They need a healthy diet, exercise, regular hoof trimmings, and dental care; all the same care full-sized horses need.

The Importance of Careful Breeding

If you ever plan to breed a mini, it is important you do lots of research to educate yourself.

When breeding any miniature animal, there are risks that can occur and it is important to take the necessary steps to prevent them.

It is important to be responsible when breeding minis and take into consideration the potential health issues they may have.

Though their small size is cute, there are risks that can come with being miniature if breeders aren’t careful.

D. Sharon

Friday 17th of February 2023

My opinion? Most breeders of dogs, horses, cats are involved in a cruel and inhumane activity. You know how the ones that don't come right are dealt with? And the health issues of these breeded animals often lead to painful and suffering lives.

Humans who want their animals to be CUTE are not respecting their companions for who they are - they are just interested in pleasing their own needs, which, in truth is pretty infantile. Our animals are not toys and dolls. They are living, breathing creatures with intelligence, instinct, emotions - yes, emotions -- and not the ones we decide we want to deal with.

I put breeding of animals into the same category as animal abuse. Testing on animals, especially for makeup and products we use but are not necessary - can be done by computer now. Also, some farms are very cruel to their livestock.

I yearn for the day when human beings become more enlightened and realize that our development is a gift - not an entitlement.

And the way we treat this planet, it's obvious that we are not ready to handle the gifts we developed. Many people just want to be comfortable even at the expense of the world their future generations will inherit.

My prayer: respect animals for who they are, their own species; and stop trying to either anthropomorphizing them or abusing them. The middle path would be a wonderful thing. Respect and sharing the planet which is just as much theirs as ours.