Miniature Horse DO's and DON'Ts
How to Care for a Miniature Horse
A miniature horse can be a wonderful addition to your stable, as they are fun animals to raise and interact with. They are typically easy to care for and their daily cost and the space they require is less than that of an average-sized horse. That said, a miniature horse does need all the same daily care that any horse would need in order to keep it healthy and happy. Overall, it's important to make sure it is housed, fed, groomed, and cared for properly. If you make sure all of these things are done, you will have a happy, healthy miniature horse for years to come.
Housing Your Miniature Horse
Set up a stall for your miniature horse.A miniature horse needs to be kept in clean conditions and needs to be provided with shelter from rain, sun, and wind. A 3-sided stall set up in a pasture typically works for miniature horses that are not being shown. This gives them protection from weather but allows them freedom to roam.
- If you already have a horse barn, you can adapt a regular horse stall for a mini. Simply swap out the door and lower the water and food bucket hooks to a mini’s height.
- If you are showing your miniature horse, you may want to keep it in a stall in a barn to keep it clean. However, be sure that the horse's stall is set up specifically for a mini. It should have short walls that the horse can see over and a lot of air flow to keep the horse healthy.
Provide access to a pasture.It is important to make sure that your horse gets exercise and freedom while roaming a pasture. To give your horse the freedom to wander when it likes, you can construct an open stall door leading to the pasture. You can also simply turn the horse out yourself every day.
- Giving your miniature horse time in a pasture will give it access to grass and will give it daily exercise.
- While the pasture does not need to be as big as you would use for an average-sized horse, a miniature horse should not be kept in a small space, such as a dog run. You should provide approximately 1/4 acre per miniature horse.
Secure all pasture areas.Since miniature horses are smaller than other horses, they can squeeze out of holes in fencing that an average-sized horse could never get out of. Before you put your miniature in a pasture for the first time, make sure that there are no holes or broken areas that the horse could escape from.
- A miniature horse will not need fencing that is as tall as that made for an average-sized horse.
- Make sure the fencing slats are close enough together that your mini can’t jump through, but wide enough that it won’t get a leg stuck.
Provide a companion animal.Miniature horses should not be housed alone. Ideally, you will have several miniature horses that can keep each other company. However, you can also use other animals as companion animals, such as donkeys, dogs, sheep, or goats.
- Miniature horses are social creatures, so they should never be kept alone. However, you do need to take their individual personalities into consideration when choosing a companion for them. For instance, if you have a grumpy horse, you will want to give it a companion animal that will give it some space and will not respond poorly to its stubbornness.
Feeding Your Miniature Horse
Give your miniature horse access to grass or feed them hay every day.Forage, either provided through grazing or given in the form of hay, should make up most of your horse's diet. A miniature horse will eat 1 to 2% of its body weight in forage every day, so it's important to provide enough for the animal.
- For example, a miniature horse that weighs 200 pounds (91 kg) should be given 2–4 pounds (0.91–1.81 kg) of forage every day.
- Miniature ponies that aren't worked and are on a good grassy pasture typically don't need to be fed hay if there is enough grass. In fact, if they are fed too much it may cause them to become overweight and it could even cause colic, a digestive illness. However, if a horse is worked regularly they should be fed to keep a stable weight.
Supplement your miniature horse's diet with grain if necessary.In addition to hay and grass, your horse may need a limited amount of grain, although some minis don’t need a supplement at all. Talk to your vet if you’re not sure. If you do provide grain, do so sparingly, as too much overall and too much at one time can be bad for a miniature horse's digestive system.
- In general, most miniature horses can eat approximately 1 pound (0.45 kg) of grain every day, split into 2 feedings.
- Miniature horse owners should feed their horses a pre-mixed combination of grains. These mixes typically include corn, oats, wheat, and barley grains. They are specifically created to meet a miniature horse's dietary needs and typically contain a mix of dietary supplements as well as grain.
Take your horse's size and body condition into consideration.When determining how much to feed your miniature horse, you should feel the animal's body for areas where fat has deposited and for areas that are overly skinny. If your horse is overweight you will want to feed it less, and if your horse is underweight you will want to feed it more.
- An easy way to tell if your horse is at a good weight is to feel along its sides for its ribs. If you can feel its ribs but not see them, your horse is at a healthy weight. If you can see the ribs, the horse is underweight; if you can’t feel or see the ribs, it’s overweight.
- Miniature horses are prone to becoming overweight. The ideal weight for a miniature horse is anywhere between 150–300 pounds (68–136 kg), depending on the size of the horse. Keep an eye on your horse's size in order to fine-tune its diet so that it can stay at an ideal weight.
Monitor your mini’s weight when on pasture.Miniature ponies have a tendency to gain weight easily, so it’s important to keep an eye on how much weight your mini gains when on pasture. If you notice it growing heavy, you may need to get a grazing muzzle to prevent your mini from overeating.
Provide access to clean drinking water at all times.It's important that your miniature horse can drink water whenever it needs it so that it stays properly hydrated. Be sure that the water is clean and that the container you put the water in is clean as well.
- Clean water containers weekly so that they do not harbor harmful bacteria, which could affect your horse's health. Simply rinse the container with cold water, add a few drops of dish soap, scrub it down with a brush, and then rinse it out.
- You can add a drop or two of bleach to the horse's water to keep bacteria and algae at bay. This will not harm the horse and will keep the water more palatable.
Grooming Your Miniature Horse
Secure your horse before grooming.Before starting your grooming routine, you should make sure the horse's reins are tied up. This will ensure that the horse cannot bolt and that you can keep a firm grip on it while preforming your grooming tasks.
- You can tie up a horse using a variety of knots, such as a quick-release knot.
- You should always have a quick-release option, in case your horse gets stuck or distressed.
Let the horse know that you are approaching it.Although miniature horses are small, their kicks and bites can still injure you. As with all horses, you should approach them in a way that lets them know you are coming. Make noise as you are approaching and make sure they can see you coming.
- You can approach the horse from the side and touch it as you do so but never come up on a horse from behind. This will eliminate the chance of a fear response if you touch them when they don't know you are there.
Stand at the horse's side, not behind it.While grooming, you should position yourself so that you are out of harm's way. Standing directly behind a horse may result in you getting kicked if the horse gets spooked or agitated, so always stay to the side.
Pick the horse's hooves and assess their hoof health every day.Miniature horses need the rocks and debris removed from their hooves so that the hooves stay healthy and they don't become painful to walk on. Working on 1 leg at a time, pick up the hoof and use a hoof pick to get all of the rocks, manure, dirt, hay, and other debris out of the inner part of the hoof.
- Once you have cleaned out a hoof you should look at the surface to determine if it's healthy. Look for injuries or swollen areas inside the hoof. If you spot a problem, seek out the treatment advice of a veterinarian.
- Many miniature horses also need their hooves trimmed because they typically grow faster than they are worn down. In general, a miniature horse will need its hooves trimmed once every 5 weeks or so.
Brush the horse's coat daily.When caring for a miniature horse it is important to keep their coat clean, soft, and shiny. Use a soft-bristle horse brush all over your miniature horse's body. Remember to brush with the grain of the horse's hair and inspect the animal's body for signs of illness or injury while you are brushing it.
- To keep your miniature horse's mane and tail untangled and shiny you should also brush them every day.
- Brushing is especially important for miniature horses that you plan on showing, as the state of their manes and tails will be judged.
- Brushing your horse every day is a great way to bond with the animal. It is quality time when you can show the horse that you care for it and that you are not a threat to it.
Keeping Your Miniature Horse Healthy
Give your horse extra care during cold weather.While miniature horses are actually quite hardy, they do need a bit of care in freezing conditions. For example, during cold days they need to be rugged to help them maintain a stable body temperature.
- A rug is a blanket that is put on the back of a horse. They can be bought from a local riding shop, although rugs for miniature horses are harder to find than those made for average-sized horses.
Get them annual veterinary care.Your miniature horse needs regular veterinary care to ensure that it is healthy and does not have any emerging health problems that need treatment. The veterinarian will also set up a schedule for immunizations and other preventative care that will keep your horse healthy in the future.
- Common diseases that minis are often immunized for include tetanus, rabies, influenza, and rhinovirus.
Give your horse deworming medication every 6 to 8 weeks.One of the most important things your veterinarian will do is to prescribe deworming medication and to set a schedule for giving it to your horse. Deworming is vital for the mini to remain healthy, as all horses are prone to parasitic infections and these infections can be very serious and even life threatening. This medication is typically given to your horse every 6 to 8 weeks.
- Deworming medications given to miniature horses will typically protect them from strongyles, ascrids, pinworms, roundworms, and other common parasitic infections.
Care for your horse's dental health annually.In addition to general health exams, miniature horses should have a dental exam every year. The veterinarian will inspect the horse's teeth and ensure that they are healthy. Any problems in the mouth can lead to serious health problems, such as malnutrition, so it's important to keep up on your miniature horse's dental health.
- Check your horse's teeth regularly to make sure their teeth look healthy and that their bite is normal and is creating even wearing on the teeth.
QuestionHow much weight can they carry?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf your miniature horse is taller and more muscular than a normal miniature horse, it could carry 60 to 80 pounds. If it's a normal miniature horse, 40 pounds or less wouldn't weigh it down.Thanks!
Video: Feeding Your Miniature Horse
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