My friend Abbie from Comely Park Primary has asked me to write her a story about horses. This is quite a challenge for me, as I know very little about them.
When I was about ten, most of the girls in my class liked horses and would gallop around the playground at break pretending to be champion stallions or their riders. On weekends they would go to the local paddock and ride in a line around the nearby fields. The idea of sitting on such an enormous animal scared me to death, so I got myself a little reference book and became the class expert on dog breeds instead!
Recently I have discovered a type of horse that would have suited me perfectly as a child. For the past 20 years or so a huge following has developed for miniature horses which at their full height are only about as big as a greyhound. Now that’s a horse I could handle!
There are miniature horse associations in America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, the UK and Europe. Although miniature horses have existed for many centuries (and were particularly popular among European nobility in the 17th century) it was not until 1978 that the American Miniature Horse Association was formed to establish the miniature horse as a distinct breed.
The British Miniature Horse Society was formed in 1992 and it promotes the idea that miniature horses, unlike Shetland ponies and Welsh ponies, should have the same proportions as a standard-sized horse. There is some disagreement about this among miniature horse breeders, as certain associations allow pony characteristics (a longer body, larger head and shorter legs). The Anglo-European Miniature Horse Society explains the different types of horses HERE.
There are now thousands of mini horse fans around the world, with annual competitions, showjumping events, harness driving and obstacle racing. The AMHA produces a glossy 132-page magazine full of beautifully photographed horses in romantic poses:
Here is an inside spread to show you the wide range of articles they publish:
Although a miniature horse can be friendly and affectionate, it can’t really live indoors like a pet dog or cat. They are promoted as ideal for young people or those not physically strong enough to manage a full-sized horse, but you do have to give them the care and facilities that all horses need, and they are too small for an adult to ride. In some places they are used to help people with disabilities (like a guide-dog) but this can be problematic when they need to stay indoors for long periods, or get in a taxi! It must be remembered that a horse cannot be housetrained, so having a guide-horse could get a bit messy!
I wish I had known about miniature horses when I was younger. Then I might have joined in the galloping at lunch break!