If you love horses but have less space than a full-sized horse needs, you might be thinking about adopting a mini horse or two. Animal lover Lisa has had several minis in her family, and she shares the joys--and some important caveats--with you.
As you might guess, mini horses are loads of fun to watch. Widdles, Lisa's youngest, is "full of personality," she says. "He even has facial expressions!" Frisky and confident at just six hands tall, Widdles tried to breed full-sized mares before he became a gelding. It was comical, but Lisa recalls, "I took care of that right away. I didn't want any strange looking foals born!"
Widdles' best friend is a big barrel horse named Dandy; he visits her stall and she drops food over the side to him. If Lisa takes Widdles away from the ranch for an afternoon, Dandy will stand at the gate and call to him.
One of the best attributes of mini horses is how good they are with children. Lighting, a rescue horse who's nearing 40 years old, has help raise several little girls. Mini horses can live much longer than full sized horses, and Lisa says Lighting is still a happy little guy. He's retired now, but younger minis can pull small carts and be ridden by youngsters. Caring for a mini horse is a great way for children to learn responsibility and gain self-esteem.
Horses are becoming known for being excellent therapy animals, and minis can really connect with young ones who have experienced trauma. Some minis visit hospitals and care facilities; a few even become seeing eye horses for the vision impaired.
Mini horses can also be great for people with other challenges. Lisa has a permanent leg injury, and she and another of her rescues, Noelle, who had once been tied up and attacked by dogs, are good for each other. Lisa uses a yoga ball for exercise outside, and Noelle will come lay her head on Lisa's shoulder. "It's like a horse hug," Lisa says.
Before you rush out and find some mini horses for your family, there are some important things to consider carefully. Lisa cautions that minis have the same needs as regular horses, including vaccines, hoof trimming and grooming. That means an investment of time and money to care for them.
Minis have special needs too, especially when it comes to diet. Unlike other horses they can't be left to graze all day--doing so puts them at risk for serious medical conditions. Left to their own devices they can get rather plump, so it's important to monitor their food intake and ensure they get enough exercise.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that mini horses can live a long time, and unfortunately, some people get bored and surrender them to an uncertain fate. If you do decide to adopt, know that your mini will be with you for many years.