Miniature horses have been bred since the 1600s in Europe. It was only in the last part of the twentieth century that this diminutive breed was officially recognized by world horse organizations. Much like full-size horses, miniature breeds vary in color and markings. Today, miniature horses are prized both as pets and for racing.

Miniature Horses versus Ponies

At first glance, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a mini-horse and a pony. However, subtle differences exist which can be used to tell the two apart. Miniature horses are bred to resemble their full-size relatives. The body proportions are the same. Miniature horses have long legs and narrow heads when compared to their torsos. Ponies do not. Ponies are bred to have short legs which tend to be thicker relative to their bodies. They also have thicker coats, tails, and manes. Ponies also have wider, more barrel shaped bodies and resemble mules in this way. Once one knows what to look for, telling the difference between the two becomes easy.

Valued by Nobility and Coal Miners

When miniature horses were first bred, they were used as pets for nobility in royal courts. Soon, practical uses were discovered for their small size and hardiness. Coal miners especially valued the small animals for their ability to navigate mines while pulling ore carts. It is thought that modern day ponies were developed from the mining animals and were bred to be thicker and stronger than their noble cousins. Meanwhile, the royal miniature horses were bred to resemble full-size horses of great renown, such as Arabians, and soon became exact replicas of standard horses, only smaller.

The Mini-Horse: A Perfect Pet

Today, most miniature horses are kept as pets. They can be ridden by small children and attached to light wagons. Some are even used as companion animals for those with disabilities. With a naturally calm disposition and appealing longevity, miniature horses are wonderful companions for people all over the world.