were first brought to the U.S. in the 19th century, mainly for use in Appalachian coal mines. They were bred with Shetland Ponies, as well as with English and Dutch mine horses.
Gradually, the public became aware of miniature horses, and by the 1960s, minis began appearing in a number of equestrian competitions, and as companion animals. In 1972, the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR) was established as a division of the Shetland Pony Club. Six years later, the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) was founded, establishing the miniature horse as a distinct breed.
Miniature horses can have any coat color, eye color, and any type of white markings. They are intelligent, eager, and friendly, and they should not be skittish. On average, miniatures live longer than full-sized horses. It's easy for people to overfeed them if they are not used to having smaller horses So obesity is somewhat common, but of course it's not good for the horses. Minis can also have dental problems caused by overcrowding of teeth, and by underbites and overbites. This is true of chihuahuas, too, so I can empathize!
|Wikipedia -- agriflanders - DSC_6049|
|This little horse named Koda had such bad dwarfism that he required |
several surgeries on his legs and mouth.
|Einstein weighed 6 pounds at birth, and was 14" tall|
|Guide Horse Scout in the Cincinnati Airport|
Many service horses wear fabric shoes for traction on slick floors.
Also, real horseshoes would set off metal detectors.
Photo: DanDee Shots; Wikipedia
Miniature horses can learn to be assistance animals, just like dogs can. I'm sure dogs can do it better, but it is still impressive that horses can be trained to do such things. One example of what a mini horse can do is to be a guide for a blind person. Some people think horses shouldn't be used in this way because they are prey animals and can get spooked more easily than dogs can. Plus they have to be stabled outdoors to maintain their health. But other people say that horses are great to use with blind people because they live longer than dogs. Also, they are good choices for people who are allergic to dogs, or for Muslims, who think of dogs as unclean.
It's easier to use miniature horses as therapy animals. They can make visits to hospitals and nursing homes, just like dogs can, and children are often less afraid of a mini horse than of a full-sized one.