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A Horse,
of Course

with Don Blazer

A Horse of Course

"I'm a mini, I'm a mini," Walter, a horse, of course, shouted from his stall.

"No you're not," I corrected. "You are a Quarter Horse."

"No, I'm a mini," he insisted, pointing his left foreleg at a resin model sculpted in the form of Walter. There was pride in his eyes. "I'm a mini," he said again.

"No," I responded. "You are an American Quarter Horse who just happens to have an 19-inch model made in your image."

"A mini," I said emphatically and with authority, "is a miniature horse." "Minis," I informed Walter, "are a recognized breed registered with the American Miniature Horse Association of Alvarado, Texas."

The American Miniature Horse Association, Inc., was organized in 1978 to aid and encourage the breeding, use and perpetuation of the American Miniature Horse. The organization wants to keep the mini separate and apart from ponies and other small equines.

"And," I said to Walter, "according to the AMHA's rules and regulations, an animal exceeding 34 inches in height at the last hairs of his mane at the withers is not eligible for registration. That leaves you out."

I suggested to Walter there were plenty of myths and misinformation about the mini, and that most of what we know is founded in logic, supposition and speculation. Most modern historians and horsemen tend to support the idea the breed--as most breeds--is a derivative of many sources.

If you examine the evolution of the horse, you know our modern horse of 16-hands is the descendant of a very small, nearly fox-sized equine. So, somewhere along the line it is not inconceivable that the mini evolved as a horse, but remained small trying to survive harsh climates and a limited food supply.

Our knowledge of genetics indicates horses can be bred for size, and according to the AMHA it is known that at various times minis were bred for pets, novelty, research, mining work, exhibition and royal gifts.

Of course today, there is no question, they are being bred for monetary gain. They sell well, and frequently for a whole lot of money.

It is speculated, today's mini is the result of nearly 400 years of selective breeding. Of course, that's speculation.

The association reports the first mention of a small horse being imported to the United States was in 1888. However, there apparently was not much public notice of the little guys prior to 1960 when the mini started to gain some popularity.

It is believed the American Miniature Horse utilized the blood of the English and Dutch mine horses brought to this country in the 1800s and used in Appalachian coal mines as late as 1950. The American Miniature Horse, as documented in the pedigrees of some minis today, also drew upon the blood of the Shetland pony, according to the AMHA.

When you see a mini, the general impression should be of a small, sound, well-balanced horse. The mini should have the correct conformational characteristics required of large horses. You should see refinement and femininity in mares and boldness and masculinity in stallions.

The association says you should see symmetry, strength, agility and alertness, and that preference in judging should be given to the smaller horse, other characteristics being equal. After all, the AMHA says, the objective is to breed the smallest possible perfect horse.

What do a mini do?

They show at halter, pull carts and go over jumps while on a longe line.

And, Walter, a mini can be mini in other ways. For example, the costs of stabling a mini range from $50 to $150 per month, whereas, for you, it can cost from $200 to $600 per month.

And the cost of feeding a mini is about $25 per month.

"The cost of feeding you, my friend, is about $150 per month. So, you see, you are not a mini, never where a mini and never will be a mini."

As I walked away, Walter was looking at his model with a contented grin. "It's a mini-me!"

"I heard that."

Don Blazer
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"A Horse, Of Course"
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by Don Blazer

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