Range:Originated in Argentina, but they are now found worldwide.
Habitat:Domesticated, so found primarily in captivity.
Physical Characteristics: Height of 34 in. or less at the withers (highest point of the shoulders) when full grown, and can be as little as 25 in. in height. Average weight is 100- 200 lbs. They tend to have thicker manes, tails, and hooves than full-size horses. They can be of any color. Body is proportioned the same as the full-sized horse.
Longevity:20- 30 years on average, some live as long as 40 years.
Diet: Wild - Horses can graze up to 70% of their day on grass, if allowed.
Zoo - Hay and horse chow, they eat 1/10 the food of a full-sized horse.
Behavior: Miniature horses have the same intelligence as full-size horses, but are considered gentler and more affectionate. They are great with young childern, senior citizens, and physically challenged individuals. They are used for driving, parades, horse shows, and companionship.
Reproduction: Their reproductive cycle is the same as full-size horses, with gestation lasting appoximately 11 months, or 330 days. They are seasonal breeders, breeding from February- September. For aging, all horses become a year older on January 1, no matter the month in which they were born. Miniature horses give live birth to typically 1 foal, with the rare occurance of twins.
They are not "dwarfs", but real horses that are a product of over 400 years of select breeding. Dwarfism can occur resulting in even smaller minis!
Due to their small hoof size, and lack of being ridden, minis do not wear shoes.
The oldest breed of the miniature horse is the Falabella, which originated in Argentina, where the Falabella family began selectively breeding small horses in the 1860's. Only small South American horses were used; pony blood was never introduced. Thus they are noted for their excellent conformation, intelligence, and manner. The Falabellas are referred to as the smallest breed of horses in the world.
Relationship With Humans: Usually kept as pets - for showing or companionship.