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Miniature Horse Breed Makes a Great Household Pet

Originally bred as pets for the children of royalty in the 1600ís, the miniature horse breed also spent time working in the mines and now mainly appear in their own shows. They are considered gentle animals that are affectionate and genuinely eager to please still making them perfect pets.
In addition to their role as pets, they were also kept as curiosities and appeared in circuses where their reputation as performers grew. It was not until the late 18th century that they because used as pit ponies, working the mines in Wales and in Great Britain. In the 1800ís, because of their size, they were imported to the United States to work in the coal mines of Appalachia. American breeders took an interest in the miniature horse breed and began selective breeding practices to breed a miniature with perfect proportions to the larger animals.
The American Miniature Horse Association, founded in 1978, lists two classes of miniatures, class A being 34 inches tall or less, and class B ranging from 34 to 38 inches tall. In order to appear in horse shows as a miniature, the animal can be no taller than 34 inches, which is eight and half hands. Today, the AMHA registers about 140,000 animals around the world. Their breeding goal is to develop the smallest possible horse that maintains the correct conformity and the smallest of the breed is considered more desirable.

They are found in a variety of colors including bay, black, buckskin, chestnut, grey, palomino, pinto and white. They should have a head in proportion to the body and neck with a broad forehead and eyes widely spaced. Medium sized ears should be pointed with a long, flexible neck. Hooves should be rounded with legs straight and parallel to each other and the animalís croup should be the same height as the withers.

Many times the miniature horse breed is confused with dwarf horses and although dwarfs may be cute, they are not considered as miniatures due to irregularities in conformity. Their strength is also in proportion to their build and are capable of pulling loads that are also in proportion and as such are still used as circus attractions, often dressed in colorful costumes and pulling miniature carts.

Because of their gentle nature, many still own miniature horses as pets as they thrive on attention with a great display of curiosity and intelligence. While many people have always wanted to own a horse, but had reservations of owning, handling and caring for an animal that could weight over 1,000 pounds, are finding the miniature horse breed ideal. About an acre of land is usually sufficient roaming territory for exercise and outdoor feeding and caring for a miniature is the same as for any other horse breeds, only on a much smaller scale.

They are also used in therapeutic value is also growing for use with disabled children and adults and they are used for people of all walks of life in stressful jobs or situations.
The lifespan of a miniature horse is about 30 years, although on miniature in North Carolinaís protective area attained the age of 50.

Read the next horse breeds article on pinto horses.
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