Own a Miniature Horse – Horse Illustrated

Photo by Rachel Griffin Photography

When my daughter was 2 years old she played on a friend’s farm which housed a pony riding business. I had started looking for her own pony, because I wanted something she could lead around the farm, brush and drag on her own without me worrying about her being jostled. We finally met a miniature horse named Gru and fell in love with his personality, and a few days later we began our journey of owning a miniature horse as he was brought into our farm and into our lives. Who knew such a small guy would create big questions?

The mini list

We learned valuable lessons adjusting to the reduced life of owning a miniature horse, including some things I never would have imagined until I experienced it myself.

Stall size: Our barn configuration includes five 12 foot by 24 foot stalls. Three of them can be split into two, with doors to the exterior and the interior hallway. They are perfect for those cold Indiana winter days and nights when we have to keep the horses indoors and they need room to move around. But the stand we had for Gru was one that couldn’t be cut in half, giving him his own realm of a 12×24 stand.

Bucket height: During the first week we had to adjust the height of the water bucket, and we knew immediately that Gru wouldn’t be able to use the corner feeder, hence the need for a tray. ground rubber feed.

Bucket size: Which brings us to the size of the water bucket and the feed tank. We use standard 5 gallon buckets of water, and I’ve learned that Gru doesn’t drink the whole bucket, even on the hottest days, but we do want to keep the water cool. Its rubber feed pan is rather large for the amount of grain it receives (that reveal later), but it also serves as a great spot for its mineral block.

Child cleaning a stall
Photo courtesy of Megan Arszman

Dropout fork tines: You wouldn’t think how much having a miniature horse changes the way you clean stalls…until you clean his stall with a standard fork. The size of a Mini’s droppings can make cleaning more difficult if you have a standard fork, as the tines are too far apart. When we changed to a different type of dropout fork with closer teeth, it made a huge difference in less droppings! (It also helps that my daughter has a smaller fork that’s perfect for her size and perfect for Gru’s poop.)

Horse clothing: Miniature horse/small pony clothing is hard to find in our area, so often I order Gru’s fly mask online and hope I don’t have to go through the return process. Finding the right size halter usually requires some rigging to taper around the crown and jaw. And don’t get me started looking for a saddle that fits his non-existent withers and wide barrel…hence why Aubrey rode him more bareback than in the saddle.

Dinner portions: When it comes to feeding Gru, I find it crazy that he eats less cereal at night than my dogs eat kibble. We give Gru half a cup of pellets when he comes home for the night, plus half a flake of hay. He gets the same type of hay as our donkeys (the high-grade alfalfa mix is ​​only for the “big girls”), and he shares a flake with a donkey.

Additionally, we have instituted the use of a pasture muzzle for the first time in our family’s history of owning horses lest it gorge itself. However, we never know how well it works, as it’s a constant battle to figure out how to keep the muzzle on him throughout the day. Who knew a Mini could be such a Houdini?

Health care: It is important to note that not all farriers and veterinarians will work on miniature horses. We had to find a separate farrier who was willing to work with Gru and our three donkeys, and our vet had to be flexible enough to squat while floating his teeth. Luckily Gru is in fairly good health and doesn’t need to trim his feet as often as our normal sized horses, but it was still a tough problem when we first owned him.

Big hearts in small packages

The list can go on and on about how much we had to change our mindset to downsize, but one thing is certain about Gru: although his stature is small, his heart is huge. He’s happiest when he hears my daughter’s voice, hugs her when she wraps her arms around her belly or round neck (rather round), and is happy to just walk around the barnyard with her at the other end of the lead rod.

Although Aubrey has probably already outgrown his 34 inch body, he has a forever home and a place in Aubrey’s heart for life.

This article about owning a miniature horse appeared in the September 2020 issue of illustrated horse magazine. Click here to subscribe !


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