Before You Buy
Miniature Horses are a hardy fun breed with personalities somewhere between a dog, goat and a horse! But don’t let that fool you – they are still horses!
They may be small, but they require much of the same care as a large horse (feed is really the only major difference).
Minis live easily into their 20’s and have been known to live into their 30’s! These are long lived creatures, and thought needs to be given to that as well Are you prepared to have a Mini be part of your life for the next 20+ years? Is this a spur of the moment or impulse purchase?
Please consider all of what Mini ownership entails BEFORE you fall in love and buy your first Mini!
Your best bet – BE INFORMED!!!
How? Ask yourself a few questions…
I. What is MY goal in adding a Mini to my life?
A pet or companion?
If this is what you want, you can get a good quality Mini for a few hundred dollars and up. You still want a sound horse (healthy, good temper, straight legs, not major defects). If this is going to be your only Mini or two, get one you that really tugs at the heart strings as you’ll be spending alot of time with your Mini and you should enjoy that time! (It really is recommended to get two, as ALL horses are herd animals and they do better with company.
Do I want to breed Minis?
Are you knowledgeable about breeding horses?
Are you willing to put in the time to learn what a good horse is (conformation, attitude, pedigree, etc.)
Do you know what breeding involves?
Are you prepared to wait 320-340 days and deal with the potential loss of a foal or beloved mare?
Can you care for and handle a stallion?
Show prospect (local/open shows or regional/national level)?
Showing and choosing a show prospect is very subjective. Competing locally for fun is different than competing on the National level. At the Regional and National level, you need a competitive horse, one that preferably likes to show (some don’t) and generally a trainer to win at the highest level. Some horse (Buckeroo is an example – he knew he was all that!), have “presence” and enjoy the whole process of showing.
Besides the glory of winning is the expense. If you’re showing for fun, (it’s more fun with friends) then get a horse you want to have fun showing that also meets your goals. (Ex. If you want to show locally for fun and a to be social AND prefer obstacle and liberty, you need a Mini with that mind set and ability versus a national level halter contender).
Driving is a big investment. Either getting your Mini properly safely trained (months if not years) OR to purchase a well trained Mini can run many thousands of dollars.
Have you driven before? If not, take a couple of lessons to see if it’s for you! There are reputable driving instructors out there (ask for referrals from friends/breeders).
Are you looking to compete in CDE? Breed shows? Or just have a safe driving Mini for fun?
Do you need a trained horse? Do you know how to evaluate a good moving horse? Good work ethic?
II. You have your goals, now what?
Again be informed!
Unfortunately much of the horse industry is ‘buyer beware’. Educate yourself!
- Visit as many local breeders as you can
- Look at ALOT of Minis in person and online!
- Go to a few shows (if you think you’ll be interested in showing)
- Join AMHA and/or AMHR or one of the many local clubs
- There are many Miniature Horse reference books (Amazon)
- Research online! There are websites, forums, , Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo groups all with members willing to help you learn!
III. So what is involved with owning a Mini?
Minis are adorable, cute, sweet, affection and smart, but they are horses , not dogs and cats. Don’t let their size fool you. They are strong creatures and if not taught manners can be willful and lead to problems. Think little dog vs big dog. Too many people let little dog breeds get away with behavior that would be completely unacceptable in the big breeds. Same goes for Minis! Biting, kicking and general disrespect is learned and easier to stop in the first place than to fight and retrain later!
Minis are also herd animals and really do best with another horse as a companion. A goat or donkey will do in a pinch, but they won’t have the same relationship as they will with another horse as company. Boredom is a guarantee for problems – with destructive or health consequences.
IV. Where is my Mini going to live?
Comfortably Minis need a third of an acre to move around with some sort of shelter (three side/roofed).
Secure fencing that is Mini escape proof and neighborhood dog proof too. Large predators can be a problem, but most Mini attacks and deaths are attributed to neighbor dogs or feral dogs.
This space will need daily manure removal for fly and odor control (especially if you’re on a small lot with neighbors!)
Fresh water as well a salt and mineral block must be available 24/7.
**If you live in the city limits check your zoning – some Minis are classes as exotics other places class them as horses.**
V. What are some expenses of owning a Mini?
- Annual vaccinations (Eastern, Western Encephalomyelitis, Tetanus, Rhino, Influenza, West Nile, Rabies – your vet can advise you on specifically what you need)
- Farrier visit (every 6-10 weeks)
- De-worming (theories on this have changed ask your vet!)
- Feed – pasture, purchase hay, grains, supplements, salt…
- Wardrobe – a ranch halter and lead, along with blankets, hoods, etc.
- Hygiene – brushes, picks, shampoo, towels, clippers, fly spray
- Fly control – manure disposal, fly traps, fly sheet/mask
- Housing – some sort of shelter to get out of the elements
- Horse trailer and something to pull it
- Vet Visits – ranch calls, exams, vaccinations, minor to major surgeries
The average care expenses will run between $250-500 a year or more. This is without anything catastrophic happening. If you are considering breeding there are a whole bunch more things to consider!
Consider carefully before buying – the purchase price can be the cheapest part about owning a Mini!
There are a myriad of resources out there for people new to horses and/or new to Minis.
|Must have books:
There are tons of other books, but those are the bare minimum – IMHO!
|There are lots of other online resources including:
Along with these, there are numerous breeder websites and both Miniature Horse registries – AMHA & AMHR have resources for Mini owners.
Getting a solid education in owning and caring for a Mini BEFORE you buy, will make the whole experience much better for you and your horse!
Please feel free to email me any questions you have about buying or rescuing a Mini. I’ll be happy to help or at least point you in the right direction!