Though miniature horses are small, they are mighty!
It surprises people when they find out how much weight a miniature horse can pull over flat ground in a well balanced cart or wagon. That number will change over difficult terrain, though they can still manage more than you think! (and you should NEVER hitch your mini to a poorly balanced cart or wagon!)
“When compared to a full size horse, most minis are less than half the height, weigh only 20% (1/5) of a big horse and eat only 1/4 or 25% of what they do. Due to the center of gravity being so low, they can pull 4 times the weight of a draft horse, size by size. A miniature horse is able to pull 3-5 times its weight, but younger horses should not be as weighted down. A miniature can also jump higher proportionally than a big horse.” – IAM Ranch http://www.iamranch.com/minifacts.htm
My Handsome Hubby driving Ellie.
So obviously, driving is one thing you can do with your miniature horse!
Another is in-hand trail. This is similar to trail classes that people do while mounted on a big horse. We compete with the mini on the lead line and also do some trail classes while driving!
Photo by Equine Imagery – Circle J Duchess owned by Hurrican Hill Miniatures of Bearspaw, Alberta.
Obstacle driving class
Miniature horses are the perfect size for therapy horses, visiting nursing homes and hospitals. They have been trained as seeing eye horses and service horses as well. Gentle Carousel is a well known miniature horse therapy program. They have been all over the news as well as all over the US visiting people in schools and hospitals, bringing miniature horse good cheer!
Therapy horses hard at work. Right: Honor, a Gentle Carousel Therapy horse.
Something rather new and very fun has been taking the horse world by storm – Horse Agility. This is a wonderful way to spend time with your horse on the ground and since you can’t ride miniature horses it’s a wonderful thing to do with your little horse! I just purchased the book, “The Horse Agility Handbook: A Step-By-Step Introduction to the Sport” on Amazon and am so excited to begin this with my minis! I can see some obstacle building in my Handsome Hubby’s future.
There are two types of Liberty that you can participate in with miniature horses. One is a class at sanctioned shows. In this class you enter the arena with your horse in halter. You wait for your selected music to start and then un-halter your horse and encourage him to trot and canter around the arena, showing off to the crowd and the judges! When I did this I never did any encouraging of my own horse (this would help me catch my horse at the end), but had my two helpers run the stick and plastic bags – only in the corners of the arena. I didn’t like my mini to gallop around wildly, but to play more. We practiced this at home and they loved it! When the music is over you have 3 minutes to catch and re-halter your horse. I taught mine to come to me when I squatted down. So catching was never a problem. But it can be! I’ve watched a handler spend the entire 3 minutes trying to catch their horse and then need help after their time was up… The horses can get really fired up!
Miniature horses in a Liberty Class. Left: Cygnet Farms All Fired Up, Right: Cygnet Farms Street Flame
The second form of Liberty is playing with your horse without halter or lead rope. In this case you can communicate to your horse exactly what you would like to do and being a good partner, they willingly engage.
Standing on a pedestal.
In hand jumping is another really fun way to spend time with your miniature horse. Just like big horses, some of them are great jumpers and others aren’t. My Bonnie is a wonderful, correct jumper, but Sky doesn’t really like it so she either over jumps wildly or bangs into the jumps, barely clearing them.
Bonnie jumping some logs.
Castrawes Paleface Orion setting a new Guinness world record in miniature horse jumping!
CDE’s (Combined Driving Events) are another way to get out and enjoy your mini horse. CDE’s are the driving worlds equivalent to Three Day Eventing in the riding world. There are three different categories you show in, dressage, obstacle and marathon.
The first day’s combined driving dressage class tests a single, pair or team in the areas of obedience, freedom and regularity of motion, and impulsion through a sequence of compulsory movements executed within a designated area or arena. -USEF website
One of my favorite CDE teams, Team Radar competing in the dressage portion of a CDE. You can find them on Facebook!
Day two sees competitors tackle the fast-paced and demanding phase known as the cross-country marathon in which a horse’s fitness, stamina, agility, and obedience are tested together with a driver’s accuracy and judgment as they are asked to negotiate an intricate series of hazards which can include water, steep hills, and sharp turns in the fastest time while accumulating the least number of penalties. -USEF website
Team Radar running the marathon part of the CDE.
The third and final phase— the cone driving competition— tests a horse’s obedience, agility, and after two previously demanding days of competition, its endurance. Simultaneously, a driver’s skill, accuracy, and precision are tested as the single, pair, or team is challenged with negotiating an intricate course of narrowly-spaced cones cleanly and within the time allowed. -USEF website
Team Radar negotiating the final phase of the CDE, the cones course.
You don’t have to show your miniature horse to enjoy spending time with it. You can teach them to pull a sled in the winter time so you can spend time together playing in the snow! I have my game sled and am having an attachment made so I can put my easy entry cart shafts on it… then Sky can pull me all around our snow fields!! I’m so excited about this!
Team Radar (again!) playing in the snow with their game sled, shafts attached!
I take my girls hiking and walking all the time. They really enjoy getting out and I love having the company. You can also purchase little pack saddles for them so they can carry your lunch and water.
I also really enjoy dressing them up and taking pictures of them. They all love it because I am very generous with the treats during our photo shoots…
If you can think of anything else that I didn’t include please leave it in the comments below! And as always, if you have any questions please leave a comment or send me an email.