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A fascination with the Miniature Horse has grown at an astounding rate throughout the 1900’s and breeding programs, owners and registries for minis have sharply increased.
Prior to this up surge for the Mini, there was already in existence as an established breed, the Dartmoor Pony, whose height, or lack of it, makes this pony eligible for many of the new Miniature Horse registries. Also, In Argentina a tiny horse breed The Falabella, was developed in 18th century Europe. But with the recent upsweep of fascination with the breeding of minis, competition between breeding farms and registries vying for consumers has quickly grown around the globe with much contention as to breeding standards, goals of what is acceptable and what animals are eligible for what registries.
Breeders have created Micro-minis, Midget Ponies, Miniature Shetland Ponies, Miniature Toy Horses, and Pygmy Clydesdales, to name a few. More than a few of the registries offer cross registration with other mini registries. Some in American can be cross-registered as Miniature Ponies, Falabella, Miniature Toys or Shetland Ponies; also the minis can be cross-registered with color registries like Appaloosa, Paint or Sabino.
History more or less agrees that to achieve a Miniature Horse, the original small ponies were bred smaller from Shetland stock over many centuries, no matter other out crosses. However there is disagreement about ideal conformation with much infighting and therefore many registries have been created or attempted. Some prefer short, stout legs and elongated bodies, while others prefer something closer to large horse conformation. In several bloodlines the presence of an actual dwarf gene has caused a lot of trouble since inbred dwarfism increases congenital defects and leads to the unnecessary death of foals. Some of the earlier, famous miniature stud horses possessed such genetic heritage yet were bred extensively, passing their genes to thousands of descendants (mostly in America). Serious and conscientious breeders are continuing to work with what they have with the ongoing goal of creating sound animals and bloodlines.
The largest of Miniature Horses can be no more than 38 inches tall, while another division exists for those 34 inches and under. They are measured to the last hair of the mane, rather than the highest point of the withers. Many breeders maintain that the Miniature Horse is a perfect, tiny horse, rather than a tiny pony, but the proportions are most often that of a tiny pony. What is not desirable is the look of a misshapen horse. Large heads and short legs are considered a defect.
Minis can be any solid color, Pinto or Appaloosa. Practically unheard of generally, such a short time ago, the history of today’s Miniature Horse is highly interesting. and now that horses in miniature have become a global fascination, serious breeders are producing an endearing mini, affectionate, willing, and conformationally sound as well.
The Miniature Horse today gives the impression of strength, agility, and alert intelligence. They are used as pleasure animals and beloved companions, guide animals for the handicapped, and are competitively shown in driving, in hand, and hunter in hand classes in shows and in harness racing.