What is a miniature horse?
The American Miniature Horse is a unique breed - an elegant, little scaled-down version of the large horse - that cannot be taller than 34 inches * (See registry differences below) when measured at the last hairs of the mane. Today's perfectly proportioned Miniatures are the product of nearly 400 years of selective breeding, initially in Europe. Miniatures were first imported to the United States in the early 1900's as work horses to take advantage of their great strength in pulling ore carts in coal mines. As their utility decreased with the advent of industrialization a few far sighted individuals started to breed Miniatures as unique pets. From these beginnings came the forebears to the American Miniature Horse Association and the American Miniature Horse Registry which serve as registries for the American Miniature Horse.
Horsemen and non-horsemen alike are attracted to the miniature because of their small size and gentle, affectionate nature. Miniatures are the perfect horse for children, to learn how to care for and ride, years before they are ready for even the most gentle big horse. Many a saddle horse lives in the pasture only to be ridden a few times a year by the well meaning, but other wise occupied owners. Miniatures bring all of the pleasures of horse ownership in a smaller package.
*AMHA registry and the AMHR registry and their differences:
AMHA American Miniature Hose Association - A Texas based registry which requires all of their miniature horses to measure 34" or less.
AMHR American Miniature Horse Registry - An Illinois based registry has two separate height categories under their definition of a miniature horse:
Both registries offer year round shows and a National Competition.
THE AMERICAN MINIATURE HORSE STANDARD OF PERFECTION
GENERAL IMPRESSION: A small, sound, well-balanced horse, possessing the correct conformation characteristics required of most breedsrefinement and femininity in the mare, boldness and masculinity in the stallion. The general impression should be one of symmetry, strength, agility and alertness. Since the breed objective is the smallest possible perfect horse, preference in judging shall be given the smaller horse, other characteristics being approximately equal.
SIZE: Must measure not more than 34 inches at the base of the last hairs of the mane.
HEAD: In proportion to length of neck and body. Broad forehead with large prominent eyes, set wide apart. Comparatively short distance between eyes and muzzle. Profile straight or slightly concave below the eyes. Large nostrils. Clean, refined muzzle. Even bite.
EARS: Medium in size. Pointed. Carried alertly, with tips curving slightly inward.
THROAT-LATCH: Clean and well defined, allowing ample flexation at the poll.
NECK: Flexible, lengthy, in proportion to body and type and blending smoothly into the withers.
SHOULDERS: Long, sloping and well-angulated, allowing a free swinging stride and alert head/neck carriage. Well muscled forearm.
BODY: Well muscled, with ample bone and substance. Balanced and well proportioned. Short back and loins in relation to length of underline. Smooth and generally level topline. Deep girth and flank. Trim barrel.
HINDQUARTERS: Long, well-muscled hip, thigh and gaskin. Highest point of croup to be same height as withers. Tail set neither excessively high or low, but smoothly rounding at the rump.
LEGS: Set straight and parallel when viewed from front or back. Straight, true and squarely set, when viewed from side with hooves pointing directly ahead. Pasterns sloping about 45 degrees and blending smoothly, with no change of angle, from the hooves to the ground. Hooves to be round and compact, trimmed as short as practical for an unshod horse. Smooth, fluid gait in motion.
COLOR: Any color or marking pattern, and any eye color, is equally acceptable. The hair should be lustrous and silky.