Info For New Owners
Buying horses via the Internet
Your first step (once you have access to the Internet) is to decide what kind of horse you are looking for. Due to the vast amount of information, many farms have their own "site" where they post pictures of their farm and horses and tell about themselves. In order to keep from getting endless bits of information decide beforehand what you want. Make a list in order of preference such as: mare, age, height when mature, color, certain bloodlines etc. If you are looking for something special such as "proven, appaloosa colored stallion, under 34", Chianti bloodline" you can obtain leads to farms by using the search option on your browser (this is what takes you from place to place and you can "browse" the information highway). In your search option try key words such as "miniature appaloosa" or "Chianti" which will list sites with those key words in them. Also trying "miniature horses for sale" will always get you at least a few farm listings. Sale boards are becoming more and more popular and are just like the "want/sale ads" in a newspaper where people post their horse and horse related items for sale. Looking at a sale board that specializes in miniatures will narrow your search. You can also visit the registry web sites, which often have an on-line classified ad section. Many people are buying horses from Internet contacts. The Internet is worldwide so it opens a whole new availability of horses not available in one place before. You will often hear of horror stories of horses purchased via the Internet but more often than not if you follow the right steps you can make a satisfying purchase.
When you have found an interesting prospect or farm that has the type of horses you like sending an email asking for a sales list or more information on the particular horse. Use the horse's name when sending an e-mail. Such things to ask for are pictures, pedigree, age, height, registration status, conformation questions, breeding record ect. Once you receive your information study it carefully. If you find the horse is not for you be courteous and send an email to the owner explaining that the horse was not what you were looking for. If the horse still looks promising you can ask more pointed questions with yes and know answers such as: any breeding, carrying or foaling problems? any hereditary defects in the horse or their offspring?, sound of limb, any bad habits such as biting, kicking, and how do they get along with people and other horses?. Be as exact as you can especially if you won't be seeing the horse in person. Your next step is to request a video. Do not buy a horse by a fuzzy field picture. You're sure to get something other than what you had in mind. When asking for a video ask for clear tape of the horse walking away and toward you to judge the leg conformation, walk him side to side so you can see how they move. Have them trot the horse so you can see if they are sound or lame and how they move. You can also see how their temperament is by watching how they react to being handled. Ask to see them loose in a field or paddock. Watch to see if they are easy to catch or like to play "try and catch me". See how they interact with other horses. If everything looks to your satisfaction you should then take it to a more personal level and make any final dealings and arrangements by telephone.
You can also go a step farther and "check up" on the farm, their horses and the bloodlines of the horse you are considering. When visiting a web site with farm pictures look in the backgrounds of the photos and see if things are neat and tidy or is their junk all over the place. Look at the condition of the horses. Are they well cared for looking or does the broodmare in the background have hooves that are long overdue. Use your browser and search for the names on the pedigree one by one. Often you can view siblings or offspring. If you belong to the popular miniature chat groups you can ask about certain horses and bloodlines and often-other people have photos for you to see or may know the farm.
Buying via the Internet (instead of in person) is not for most beginners. A general knowledge of horses is an asset. If you are a beginner just be as precise in what you want and explain that to a potential farm and explain your use for the horse so they can help you to assess whether a horse would fit your purpose. For the most part people are honest but you still have to keep in the mind the old adage "Let the buyer beware".
Keep in mind if shipping out of state a coggins and health certificate will be needed. Make it clear on who will be paying the charges for these as they can run from $40-$80. The buyer will also have to pay shipping which from CA to MA cost approx. $500-$600. Shop around for a reliable shipper. Word of mouth is your best bet when it comes to shipping companies. They also are listed and have sites on the Internet (search under "horse transportation"). Pre Purchase exams can also be done before the horse ships.
Purchasing via the Internet can be a fun and happy transaction if you take the right steps. If all goes well when your new purchase steps off of the trailer he will be exactly what you were looking for.
General Miniature Horse Care & Info
By Tammie Cappuccio - C Spots Miniature Horses
The Miniature Horse has a special attraction due to the attractiveness of horses and their small size. Miniature horses can be found all over the world and their uses vary. Many are pets and some are show animals. If you are interested in having your own mini there is a mini out there for you.
Miniature Horses are much like large horses in personality. Temperament varies individual to individual but in general they are of a friendly and gentle nature. Miniature horses are kept for a variety of uses. Many are pets, some are used as therapy animals, some are shown and many are a hobby. Some of the popular uses for minis are nursing homes and therapy visits, parades, exhibitions, shows, pets, breeding and recreation animals.
Minis were bred down from many breeds of horses and ponies so you will find different "types" of miniature horses. There are draft horse types (like Clydesdales) to refined and elegant Arabian types. All representatives of the different breeds can be found. From the spotted pinto and appaloosa to the solid colored bay or black all colors can be found as well. The more sought after appaloosa, overo pinto and odd colors are rare and much sought after.
What is required in daily care of your mini? As with any animal they are a domestic animal and need regular care. Your first requirement is the space your mini will occupy. More and more towns are allowing minis in residential backyards. Check with your individual town requirements before bringing your mini home. Often a special permit is required. Your mini will need a shelter. They grow thick winter coats in cold weather but must still have protection from heat, rain and soaking conditions as it can cause a variety of health problems. A three-sided shelter with a roof is a minimum requirement. If your mini is to be shut in his shelter, bedding is required. Shavings are the most popular bedding but alternatives such as shredded newspaper have been used. Large bags of shavings can be purchased at local farm stores that carry horse supplies. They can usually supply a commercially mixed feed as well. Horses naturally like to be outside and should have an area no smaller than 40 feet by 60 feet and the larger the better. Fencing varies from electric wire to wooden planking. The options for fencing are endless.
Horses should be fed twice a day if not on abundant grass pasture. A good clean and green grass hay and a commercially mixed feed should be fed according to feeding instructions on the back of feed bags and adjusted for the size of your mini. As a cost saver you can also get hay from local growers. Your choices of feed are typically a sweet mix of grains or a palletized mix of grains with or without molasses. A 50-LB bag of grain ranges from $6-12 depending on type of mix. A bale of grass hay can range from a local grown bale $1.50 to $6.50 depending on quality and the region of the country it's purchased from.
Hooves of horses are constantly growing and will need trimming every 6-8 weeks by a knowledgeable farrier or horse person. If allowed to grow too long the elongated hooves can cause leg and other medical problems. Hoof trimming ranges anywhere from $10-$25 per horse every 6-8 weeks.
Grooming not only keeps your horse clean but also has other benefits. Grooming will develop a relationship with your mini. It gives you a chance to check him/her over for any cuts or other injuries. Grooming is not a daily necessity unless you are showing your horse but every couple of days a check for injuries is good practice. Hooves should be cleaned of dirt and debris on a regular basis as well as typically they can develop problems with their hooves if this is neglected.
Horses are herd animals by nature and do not do well alone in many instances. A buddy of some type is needed to keep your mini happy. Chickens, goats, cats and other animals have been successfully used as companions for Miniature Horses and do quite well.
Minis and the Internet- as with all else the Internet has made available vast new information available that had not been available before. Many farms now have their own farm sites where you can see pedigrees and pictures of their horses. Many articles on all sorts of subjects are also available for you to gather information. There are many groups who discuss just Miniature Horses and can be as specific as having groups that like a particular color. Beware of purchasing from the Internet. If you choose to purchase by this route insist on a clear video if you cannot see your potential new horse in person. Pictures still are most common as the way to view horses that are a distance from you but many things can be hidden this way. Request a video showing the teeth, the horse being handled and walked away and toward you so you can judge the horse's conformation and temperament. Seeing in person is always best if you can. One of the most important things to remember in this new age is that not everything you read on the internet is true so visit different sites and gather as much information as you can.
Your mini will need a series of vaccinations on a yearly basis to keep him healthy. Your vet should be able to recommend the proper yearly vaccines. Worming should be done on a minimum 3-month basis. Many commercial wormers are available and a vet can best advise you on what's best for your area and situation. Horse's teeth also change with age. They are grazing animals and grind their food with their back molars. Over time this can cause uneven wear in the teeth and cause eating problems. Often a "poor keeper" will thrive after a visit from a vet or horse dentist (or floater). When a horse is two they should be done on a yearly basis to keep teeth healthy.
The average upkeep per year is about the same as a large dog. In my area of the country (New England) the typical yearly upkeep of one mini is $400-$500.
Dwarfism and other problems. The Miniature Horse was developed by breeding different types of small horses and ponies to small horses and ponies. They were once known as dwarf horses and dwarf ponies. Severely dwarfed foals do still occur and many have health problems that shorten their lives. The birth of a dwarf cannot be determined at breeding time but efforts should be taken not to breed dwarfs. Dwarfs can make nice pets as long as their medical problems are not too severe. In down sizing there have been two additional major problems. Due to the mare's small size, if the foal is not positioned correctly they can get stuck at delivery and cause possible damage or death to baby and mother. This potential problem requires an attendant at all births. Another problem is parrot mouth or other teeth deformities. This is when the teeth do not align correctly and can cause eating problems. Passing on this trait should be discouraged in those animals found to have had multiple offspring with these problems.
Buying your first mini:
First decided what you want to do with your mini. Requirements will differ for a pet as from requirements for a show or breeding horse. Pets should typically have a good temperament, get along well with other animals and people and not have any bad habits. For a show horse it would be best to have or hire a professional or someone familiar with breed specifications of Miniature Horse types.
How much should I pay - Pets can be purchased starting at $500 and champion show and breeding horses can go up in the many thousands. Geldings and young colt (males) tend to be least expensive. Age, registered or not, adult or baby, training, show experience can all attribute to a purchase price. The best saying is that the value of the horse is what the buyer is willing to pay and the seller willing to accept.
A note on the breeding if you are a beginner: Unless you plan on buying a mare to have a foal to keep for yourself, as a pet, breeding is best left to the professional breeders. If you'd like to start in breeding, your best bet would be to gather all the information available and speak with established breeders in-depth about such things as market value on the foals, home placement and breeding toward the betterment of the breed
Where to buy- most registries will send you a list of breeders in your area. You can also check your local newspaper and publications. Miniature Horse publications typically have classified sections as well.
Registered or unregistered and if registered which registry- a pet mini does not need to have registration. If you wish to show or breed than registration with an established registry should be a requirement. There are many registries available. The three largest registries to date are AMHA, AMHR and WCMHR. All three have shows and affiliated clubs. AMHA and AMHR are closed registries meaning that the parents of the horse must be registered in order for the foal to be registered and WCMHR is an open registry, which means as long as they meet certain requirements they can be registered. If your interested in a particular horse ask to see the registration papers and if the prospective new horse meets the registration requirements as stated on the registration papers. Make sure all signatures and any other requirements are up to date on the registration. If your mini is not registered inquire as to his/her eligibility. A mini without registration papers does not mean it is not a "Miniature Horse" but rather than he/she has not been recorded in a particular registry. The owner should be able to provide any information you require should your preference be for a registered horse.
If you like the well known but rare Falabella Miniature Horse you can look for a miniature registered in the Falabella Miniature Horse Registry . These miniatures originated in Argentina and have pedigrees back to the late 1800s.
Clubs/groups- Many clubs exist nationally for the mini horse lover. Registries can provide lists of clubs in your area. You can also find clubs and groups through local all breed horse publications available at your local feed store and tack store.
Publications- Both AMHA and AMHR put out a worldwide magazine for mini horses. There are also region-based publications available. Check with local mini horse owners.
In conclusion, the mini can make a wonderful companion no matter what the uses they are put to. As with any living thing they require time and a commitment. If you have the time to make such a commitment it can be one of the most rewarding efforts
Miniature horses require the same care as their larger counterparts only in smaller increments. The average mini can live as long as 35 years. Foals can be weaned from their mother at the age of 4 months. Foals can mature to a height no larger than 34" for AMHA registration and 38" for AMHR registration. An average miniature horse requires grain if no or little pasture is available. A good weight indicator is to feel your horse's ribs. If you can feel them slightly but not SEE them they are in good weight. Adjust grain accordingly. Grain should be fed a least twice a day. Hay should be offered at least twice a day and pasture is desirable. Water and a salt block should be available at all times. Minis need some form of shelter. They grow long winter coats but still must have at least a three sided shelter to escape the worst of the wind and rain. Blankets are not needed if they are in full coat but if you give your horse a body clip (all over haircut) blanket protection will be required.
Stallions- a stallion is a mature unaltered male horse. They are not suitable for children due to the breeding instincts & unpredictable nature. Stallions are territorial and will fight with other males in most instances. Stallions have been known to climb fences and crawl under gates to get to a mare in breeding condition.
Mare- a mare is a mature female horse. Mares that have foals are called broodmares. They are considered the "dam" of the foal. The stallion is the "sire". Mares cycle into breeding "heat" on a average 28 day cycle being able to get pregnant average of 5 days during that cycle. The mare will "show" to the stallion during this time. Mares in breeding heat have been known to break out of their enclosures by various methods to reach a stallion.
Gelding- an altered male horse- these make the best "all around" family horses. They tend to stay the same temperament and with good handling are as gentle as mares but with out the breeding moodiness or unpredictable stallion behavior. Colts (immature male horses) can be gelded as soon as soon as six months of age. Your vet should be able to tell you if your colt is ready.
Miniature horses can be ridden by small children and excel as driving horses. There are shows nationwide (and worldwide) as well as local mini groups in most states.
Minis must have their hooves trimmed every 6-8 weeks and be wormed every 8 weeks. They require yearly shots that your vet can determine for your individual location. Teeth in adult horses should be checked yearly.
Miniature horse ownership requires a regular daily commitment. If that commitment is something you can do than ownership of this wonderful breed is just a pleasure. For more information you can visit my homepage and click on the links for the various organizations.
To tell the age of a horse by teeth
To tell the age of any horse
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