Before You Buy
Miniature Horses are a hardy breed, but they are still horses! Don't let the small size fool you. They require much of the same care as a large horse. So please consider all of what Mini ownership entails BEFORE you fall in love and buy your first Mini!
Minis can live into their 30's, so these are long lived creatures, and thought needs to be given to that area. Are you prepared to have a Mini be part of your life for the next 20+ years?
Your best bet - BE INFORMED!!!
I. First what is your goal of getting a Mini?
A pet or companion?
If this is what you want, you can get a good quality Mini for a few hundred dollars and up. You still want a sound horse, as they cost the same to feed and care for! Get one you that really tugs at the heart strings as you'll be spending alot of time with your Mini and you should enjoy that time!
Are you knowledgeable about breeding horses? Do you know what breeding involves? Are you prepared to wait 320-340 days and deal with the potential loss of a foal or beloved mare? Can you care and handle a stallion?
Show prospect (local/open shows or regional/national level)?
Showing and choosing a show prospect is very subjective. Competing locally is different than competing on the National level. You need a competitive horse, one that preferably likes to show (some don't). Some horse (Buckeroo is an example - he knows he's all that!), have presence and enjoy the whole process of showing. Besides the glory of winning is the expense. If you're showing for fun, then get a horse you want to have fun showing!
CDE driving prospect?
Are you already established CDE driver and capable of training or have a trainer? Do you need a trained horse? Do you know how to evaluate a good moving horse? Good work ethic?
II. You have your goals, now what?
Again be informed! Unfortunately much of the horse industry is 'buyer beware'. Educate yourself!
- Visit as many local breeders as you can
- Look at ALOT of Minis!
- Go to a few shows (if you think you'll be interested in showing)
- Join AMHA and/or AMHR or one of the many local clubs
- There are many Miniature Horse reference books (Amazon)
- Research online! There are websites, forum, Yahoo groups, Facebook and Twitter contacts, etc., all with lots of information
III. So what is involved with owning a Mini?
Minis are adorable, cute, sweet, affection and smart, but they are horses - not dogs and cats. Don't let their size fool you. They are strong creatures and if not taught manners can be willful and lead to problems. Think little dog vs big dog. Too many people let little dog breeds get away with behavior that would be completely unacceptable in the big breeds. Same goes for Minis! Biting, kicking and general disrespect is learned and easier to stop in the first place than to fight later!
Minis are also herd animals and really do best with another Mini as a companion. A goat or donkey will do in a pinch, but they won't have the same relationship as they will with another Mini as company. Boredom is a guarantee for problems - with destructive or health consequences.
IV. What are some expenses of owning a Mini?
- Annual vaccinations (Eastern, Western Encephalomyelitis, Tetanus, Rhino, Influenza, West Nile, Rabies - your vet can advise you on specifically what you need)
- Farrier visit (every 6-10 weeks)
- De-worming (every 6-10 weeks)
- Feed - pasture, purchase hay, grains, supplements, salt...
- Wardrobe - a ranch halter and lead, along with blankets, hoods, etc.
- Hygiene - brushes, picks, shampoo, towels, clippers, fly spray
- Fly control - manure disposal, fly traps, fly sheet/mask
- Housing - some sort of shelter to get out of the elements
- Horse trailer and something to pull it
- Vet Visits - ranch calls, exams, vaccinations, minor to major surgeries
The average care expenses will run between $250-500 a year or more. This is without anything catastrophic happening. If you are considering breeding there are a whole bunch more things to consider!
Consider carefully before buying - the purchase price can be the cheapest part about owning a Mini!
V. Where is my Mini going to live?
Comfortably Minis need a third of an acre to move around with some sort of shelter (three side/roofed).
Secure fencing that is Mini escape proof and neighborhood dog proof too. Large predators can be a problem, but most Mini attacks and deaths are attributed to neighbor dogs or feral dogs.
This space will need daily manure removal for fly and odor control (especially if you're on a small lot with neighbors!)
Fresh water as well a salt and mineral block must be available 24/7.
**If you live in the city limits check your zoning - some Minis are classes as exotics other places class them as horses.**