Similar to the size of a large dog, miniature horses are beloved by many. But don't let looks deceive you: since they aren't typical pets — their costs can add up quickly.
Before making a purchase, it's best to examine the care, nutrition, and other factors involved with ownership to help determine if a mini is right for you.
Intelligent and athletic, miniature horses require training. Their minds and bodies are geared toward learning and movement, so they'll need constant physical and mental stimulation. Simply getting them from one place to another isn't easy without the proper know-how.
General training by an owner should be constant. Professional training is worth the financial investment and opens additional opportunities. Along with dogs, minis are recognized as valid service animals. They're great as therapy pets, too. And if you want to go a different route, equestrian sports are a fun and beneficial option.
Just because they measure around 24-38 inches at the shoulder doesn't mean a quick trip to the groomer will suffice. The cost of grooming a miniature horse significantly adds up over time.
Aside from routine maintenance, the most important aspect of care is their hooves. Every month or two, your mini will need a foot trim. Finding a reputable farrier is critical to your animal's health and quality of life.
Starting costs for a miniature horse begin at around $1000. But a big continuing expense is their nutrition. Fresh water should be available constantly. However, it requires temperature regulation. Minis need warm water in cold weather and chilled water when it's hot outside. Without water at the proper temperature, your mini might not consume water, which is never good.
Feed should be given in small doses throughout the day: it's important to stretch a mini's food, so their stomachs have a buffer against ulcers. Also, like all horses, they'll require a salt lick.
Minis tend to put on weight rapidly. Small and frequent meals or a slow feeder are cost-effective options to help your itty bitty pony maintain a healthy size. Keep in mind that horses have varying nutritional needs throughout the stages of their lives.
It's not always easy to spot an overweight mini. Since their coat conceals a lot, you'll need to do a physical inspection. Periodically put your hands on them to feel if they're gaining weight.
Miniature horses need to graze around 18 hours per day. Not only does this pose the opportunity for obesity if not kept in check, but foraging certain foods can result in some serious issues. Green grass is a primary offender. Though it's tolerable for many horses, some have metabolic problems that cause fresh grass to become a health risk. In this case, hay and commercial feeds are safer alternatives.
A dry lot is a great way to resolve excessive grazing. Constantly monitoring your horse to watch for overeating isn't a feasible task day in and day out, so setting aside a specific area devoid of growth or provided food sources is a smart option.
Land can be a shocking cost of owning a miniature horse, but it's a necessary expense. An ample range of movement is a critical factor in your animal's health.
Check your local zoning regulations before acquiring your mini. Most areas consider them a horse, which constitutes livestock. Fencing is another concern, so make sure you know what's allowed and what will work best for your miniature horse.
A mini should have at least 60 feet of open space to naturally exercise, but more is better.
Creating a safe refuge for your miniature horse is vital to their happiness, health, and survival. It doesn't have to be expensive, however. A structure with a roof and three sides will do the job. If you opt for a barn or other enclosed space to avoid respiratory issues, make sure ventilation is adequate.
If you feel like a mini is a good fit for you, there's another consideration to take into account. Miniature horses feel at home in a herd. That said, having at least one companion will be in your mini's best interest.
Though they need a friend, your miniature horse can accidentally be injured by full-size equines. Other types of animals aren't ideal, either: minis need minis. When introducing them to your pets, exercise extreme caution.
Minis are prone to certain ailments, including dental problems, birthing issues, and deformities. To provide the best care, you need a skilled veterinarian who's familiar with this type of animal, and it's nice to have them on board before you acquire your new buddy. Regular checkups are a must, and notify the vet at the first sign of any illness or change in behavior.
Let's face it; any horse is an investment of time and money. They require a ton of attention, training, care, and love. You have to be up to this task before taking on such a huge responsibility. But if you're ready, you'll find that investing time with your mini is priceless.
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