A Miniature horse has an average height between 7 – 8 hands.
A miniature horse should have the same correct, well-balanced conformation seen in larger breeds. Mares should be refined and feminine; stallions should be bold and masculine. Since the goal of miniature horse breeding is to obtain the smallest possible conformationally correct horse, preference is given to smaller members of the breed. Miniature horses can be no taller than 34 inches at the withers (8 1/2 hands).
Miniature horses should be well-proportioned, with the head in proportion to the neck and body. The forehead should be broad with large, prominent, widely-spaced eyes. The ears should be medium sized and pointed. The throat latch should be well defined and the neck flexible and lengthy. The body should be smooth and well-muscled, the back should be short and the barrel should be trim. Miniatures should have long, well-muscled hips, and the highest point of the croup should be even with the withers. The tail should smoothly round off the rump. Finally, the legs should be straight and parallel, the hooves should be round and compact, and the gaits should be fluid.
Eager to please, gentle and affectionate.
Members of this breed often excel in the following disciplines:
- Jumping (in-hand)
The miniature horse is the result of nearly 400 years of selective breeding. In antiquity, it is said that small horses were often present in the courts of Europe, where they were popular curiosities and pets for royalty. They also had a role in traveling circuses, where they gained a reputation for being enthusiastic performers.
Small horses didn’t truly begin to lose their status as curiosities until the “pit pony” made its appearance in Great Britain. Pit ponies were essentially Shetland ponies that had been selectively bred to produce a small animal capable of working in the coal mines of Wales. In the 19th century, pit ponies were regualarly imported from Britain and the Netherlands to work in Appalachian coal mines. American breeders soon took an interest in them and began to selectively breed them for horse-like conformation. Modern breeders of American miniature horses sometimes use imported English, Dutch, Belgian, and German miniatures to improve the breed, while some selectively breed miniatures from larger horse breeds.
The American Miniature Horse Assocation (AMHA) was formed in 1978 with the intent to maintain a registry and stud book and to adopt a standard of perfection for the breed. Today, the AMHA is the world’s largest miniature horse registry, with nearly 140,000 registered horses in 30 countries and provinces.