Breed Information & Web Site Links
The result of nearly 400 years of selective breeding, historians tend to support the Miniature Horse breed as a derivative of many sources. In prehistoric times small horse breeds were likely the products of surviving harsh natural climates and limited feed. Today, knowledge of genetics has made the possibility of breeding specifically for size a reality.
The first mention of a small horse being imported into the United States was in 1888; and research shows little public awareness of true Miniatures until 1960. Popular belief is that American Miniature Horses utilized the blood of English and Dutch mine horses brought into this country in the 19th century and used in some Appalachian coal mines as late as 1950. The American Miniature Horse, as documented in the pedigrees of Miniatures today, also drew upon the blood of the Shetland pony. Throughout its colorful past, the Miniature Horse breed has been bred for pets, novelty, research, monetary gain, mining work, exhibition and royal gifts. AMHA
The AMHR Miniature Horse is one of the most interesting and unique equine in existence. Although their actual history is sometimes debated, the American Miniature Horse developed right along with the 20th century. By the mid 1950s, many pony farms were raising diminutive horses for fun. By the early 1970s, the American Miniature Horse Registry was created by the American Shetland Pony Club, Inc., to serve the needs of this growing area of equine interest. Today, the Miniature Horse is a popular, versatile, well-respected and much-loved animal.
Miniature Horses are bred for superb conformation and outstanding dispositions. The result is a beautifully proportionate little horse that is suitable to a variety of uses. Miniature Horses require similar care to their full-sized counterparts, but based on their size, Minis require much less space which helps make them more accessible to more people. Dwindling land resources have also contributed to the Miniature Horses’ growing popularity.
The American Miniature Horse Registry is the original registry for the Miniature Horse in the United States, and it registers as many as 10,000 horses each year. It recognizes two size divisions, making AMHR the most comprehensive small equine option. Division “A” Miniatures are up to 34” in height. Unlike the majority of most equine breeds, Miniatures are measured at the last hair of their mane rather than at their wither. Miniature Horses come in a full spectrum of coat colorings and patterns. Unlike Shetlands, a spotted appaloosa is an accepted and popular coloring in the American Miniature Horse Registry.
Miniature Horses have become increasingly popular with both children and adults. These versatile little horses can do just about everything a full-sized horse can do, making them big fun in a small package. Miniatures are well suited for everyone from the novice horse person to the consummate show professional. Their roles vary from backyard pet to fun parade entries to gorgeous show horses to therapy horses for persons with special needs or companions to the elderly. Whatever your interest in horses, it is likely there is a Miniature Horse suitable for the job!
For those drawn to the competitive side of this breed, Miniature Horse shows are hosted around the country and attract large numbers of small equine enthusiasts of all ages. Miniatures also often compete successfully at local all-breed open shows, and they can be found in the 4-H show ring as well. AMHR-rated shows offer a variety of classes from halter and showmanship to obstacle driving and fun costume to elegant park harness and speedy roadster driving, and everything in between. AMHR
TEMPERAMENT: Temperament is reflected in its personality. The American Miniature Horse is intelligent, curious, gentle, sensible, willing to cooperate and easy to train.
SIZE: Measuring at base of the last hair of the mane, the mature animal must not exceed 34 inches. Horses two years old or younger conform to the height for age requirements as stated in the show rules.
COLOR: Any coat color, pattern, white markings and eye color are equally acceptable.
HEAD: The head is beautiful, triangular in shape and comparatively small in proportion to the length of neck and body. The forehead is broad with large, prominent eyes. The eyes are set well apart and are placed approximately 1/3 the distance from the poll to muzzle. The distance between the muzzle and eyes is comparatively short. A profile may be straight or slightly dished below the eyes, blending into large nostrils on a small, refined muzzle.
BITE: When viewed from the side, the meeting point of the center incisor teeth should be equal and even. A slight deviation no more than half the width of the tooth's surface is permissible without fault. The accuracy of the bite may vary according to age. As the premolars and molars move into location, the alignment of the jaw could vary during this process.
EARS: The ears are set on top of the head and carried alertly. They are medium in size, well shaped with pointed tips curving slightly inward.
NECK: The neck is set on the top of a well-angulated shoulder, departing well above the point of the shoulder and blending into the withers, giving the impression of the neck sitting on top of the withers rather than in front of them. The slender neck is slightly arched forming a gentle curve from the poll to the back. Its length is in proportion to body with the top line being considerably longer than the bottom line. The throatlatch is clean and well defined, allowing flexion at the poll and normal respiration.
SHOULDERS: The shoulders are muscular, long, sloping, well angulated (45-50 degrees), allowing for a free swinging stride and alert head/neck carriage.
BODY: The body is compact with a short back, close coupling, broad loins, deep flank and well sprung ribs. The back has a long, level, well muscled croup and is smoothly rounding at the hip. The tail is well set. The underline of the body should be long but not tucked up at the flank. At maturity, the top of the hip must not be higher than the withers. The chest is medium width with defined muscular development.
LEGS: The legs appear longer than the body is deep. They possess flat bone, and an appearance of over-all substance with refinement. Legs are structurally straight and parallel when viewed from the front and back with hooves pointing directly ahead. The pasterns have sufficient length and angulations to provide a light, springy step. The front legs possess a well muscled forearm, relatively long in proportion to a short cannon. Front pasterns slope 45 to 48 degrees and blend smoothly with no change of angle from the hooves to the ground. The rear leg structure must demonstrate good angulations and proper flexion of the hocks for athletic movement; have the stifle placed well forward and low in the flank area with thighs and gaskins well muscled. The gaskin is relatively long in relation to the cannon. The rear cannons are perpendicular to the ground when points of hocks and buttocks are in the same vertical lines. Back pasterns slope 40 to 50 degrees and blend smoothly with no change of angle from the hooves to the ground. The hooves are trimmed to a practical length and have sufficient toe length and angle with spread of the heels for the size and proportions of the animal.
MOVEMENT: The walk is a natural free flowing, four beat gait with length of stride proportional to the height and length of leg. The trot is a natural forward, free flowing two beat diagonal gait where the knee and hock are synchronized in their elevated, flexed and extension movement. When viewed at a walk and trot from the front, the horse will replicate the structural correctness of its stance. The American Miniature Horses' conformation allows them to trot willingly and freely at liberty or pulling a pleasure cart.
JUVENILE CONSIDERATIONS: The body of the junior horse demonstrates stretch and frame to be filled in with muscling appropriate for its age. A mature adult look is not desirable. AMHA
Informational Website Links:
American Miniature Horse Association www.amha.org
American Miniature Hore Registery www.shetlandminiature.com
Greater Houston Miniature Horse Club www.ghmhc.com
Lil' Begginnings Miniature Horse International www.lilbeginnings.com
Equine Genetics and Color Calculations www.horsetesting.com/Equine.asp
Miniature Horse Farms and Sales www.miniaturehorsefarmsdirectory.com