The American Miniature Horse is a fairly new breed in Europe. Of course, that means that there are many important questions we keep getting asked about these wonderful horses. On this page, we have tried to gather some of those questions we think are most frequent and most important and gave a short, but hopefully informative answer. In order to make it easier for you to find the answers to your questions, we have grouped the questions in categories. A click on the question takes you to the answer.

General questions about the breed and its history:

What is an American Miniature Horse?
What makes a miniature horse an American Miniature Horse?
Which breeds have influenced the American Miniature Horse of today?
What are the differences between European Miniature Shetland Ponies and American Miniature Horses?
What are the differences betweeen Falabellas and American Miniature Horses?
What characteristics does the standard of perfection for American Miniature Horses demand?
What can you do with an American Miniature Horse?
What is an American Miniature Horse "good" for?

Questions concerning the purchase and keeping of an AMH:

What is the average purchase price for an American Miniature Horse?
What are the costs for maintaining an American Miniature Horse?
How do you keep a miniature horse?
Can you keep a Miniature Horse inside a house?
Can you keep Miniature Horses with big horses?
Is an American Miniature Horse prone to certain diseases?

Important abbreviations:

What does AMHA mean?
What does AMHR mean?
What does EMHA mean?
What does MHCE mean?
What does ICAMH mean?

Qestions concerning registries, associations and clubs:

Is there a Club for American Miniature Horses in my country?
Under which conditions can you register a foal with AMHA?
Under which conditions can you register a foal with AMHR?
What are the differences between AMHA and AMHR and what do they have in common?

Miscellanous:

Who is the American Miniature Horse suited for?
What do you mean by the term „Nationals“ or "World Show"?
Which books about American Miniature Horses do you recommend?
Who should I turn to if I have additional questions concerning American Miniature Horses?

Question: What is an American Miniature Horse?
Answer:
There are several different breeds which are commonly referred to as "Miniature Horse", e.g. the Argentinian Miniature Horse (usually called "Falabella"), the British Miniature Horse, the Danish Miniature Horse etc. Apart from that, there is the breed of the American Miniature Horse. The American Miniature Horse is a breed whose roots trace back to 18th century Europe, but it is in the USA during the last few decades that it really became a breed of its own. American Miniature Horses are an elegant and balanced scaled-down version of a big horse. They are generally considered a height breed and according to AMHA standards, they must not be taller than 34 inches when measured at the withers (last hairs of the mane).
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Question: What makes a miniature horse an American Miniature Horse?
Answer:
A miniature horse is only an American Miniature Horse if it is either registered with the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA), Texas and/or the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR), Illinois. As far as German studbooks are concerned, only AMHA-registered horses are eligible for registration. Please find further information about AMHA and AMHR on their official websites, www.amha.org and www.shetlandminiature.com.
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Question: Which breeds have influenced the American Miniature Horse of today?
Answer:
As probably most miniature horse breeds, the American Miniature Horse has evolved from refining small pony breeds, especially Shetland Ponies. Furthermore, the American Miniature Horse is influenced by Hackney Ponies and Welsh Ponies as well as Falabellas. Nowadays, it is not common anymore to refine American Miniature Horses with horses outside their studbooks. Both of the big American studbooks (AMHA and AMHR) have closed their books and do not under normal circumstances issue papers for hybrids.
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Question: What are the differences between European Miniature Shetland Ponies and American Miniature Horses?
Answer:
When talking about Shetland Ponies, one must be aware of the fact that the breed referred to as "Shetland Pony" in Europe differs considerably from what is referred to as a "Shetland Pony" in America. The Miniature Shetland Pony we know in Europe is about the same size as the American Miniature Horse. However, as the term "horse" as opposed to "pony" suggests, an American Miniature Horse is supposed to be a scaled-down version of a large horse as far as proportions, type, personality and gaits are concerned. Miniature Shetland Ponies are a pony breed with common pony features. Therefore, the differences between European Miniature Shetland Ponies and American Miniature Horses are considerable.
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Question: What are the differences between Falabellas and American Miniature Horses?
Answer:
As opposed to American Miniature Horse, Falabellas come from South America. Both breeds are about the same size. The main goal in breeding an American Miniature Horse is obtaining an correct equine with the proportions of its big counterpart. The AMHA Standard of Perfection specifically declares the small size subordinate to the correctness and balance. In Falabellas, "small" often seems to be all that matters. Therefore, American Miniature Horses are usually better proportioned and balanced and more refined than Falabellas.
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Question: What characteristics does the standard of perfection for American Miniature Horses demand?
Answer:
The AMHR recently adopted a standard of perfection, which is similar to the well-known AMHA standard of perfection. The standard of perfection of the German studbook for American Miniature Horses will be as close to AMHA standards as possible in its context. According to AMHA standards, an American Miniature Horse has to be small, but correct and balanced. It has to be well proportioned and a scaled-down version of a large horse. All coat colors and eye colors are allowed. Please find a detailed description of the AMHA Standard of Perfection on >>this page<<.
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Question: What can you do with an American Miniature Horse?
Answer:
This is by far the most frequent question an American Miniature Horse breeder is asked. Therefore, we have dedicated to that topic an entire >>page<< of its own that features many pictures. In short: American Miniature Horses can only be ridden by small children, but apart from that, you can do anything with an American Miniature Horse that you can do with a large horse ... and even more!
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Question: What is an American Miniature Horse "good" for?
Answer:

I guess that in our society in the western hemisphere, most animals that are being kept by humans, are not "useful animals" anymore. It is not necessary in our modern society that an animal either be a producer of nutrition or a plodder in order to have any value for its owner. Therefore, the question what an American Miniature Horse is "good" for is about as legitimate as asking, what your dog, cat, guinea pig or hamster is "good" for. Winston Churchill put it as follows: "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man."
Of course, the American Miniature Horse is not a riding horse, but it is my belief and experience that for many riders - especially children - it is the contact with horses that is the fascination of the horse and not so much its aptitude to be a piece of sports equipment.

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Question: What is the average purchase price for an American Miniature Horse?
Answer:
As with any other horse breed, the prices of American Miniature Horses vary with the quality, papers, pedigree, age etc of the individual horse. In the USA, prices for American Miniature Horses are in a range from a few hundred dollars to six figure numbers. When importing from the USA, one must not forget about the considerable costs for health certificates, quarantine, shipping, and customs duty. In Europe, American Miniature Horses of breeding quality and show quality start at about 5000 Euros. If papers or correctness do not matter for the buyer (e.g. because the horse cannot be bred or is not allowed to shows) there are of course cheaper horses available, too.
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Question: What are the costs for maintaining an American Miniature Horse?
Answer:

Maintaining a miniature horse costs about one-tenth that of maintaining a large horse. The feeding program is basically the same but clean-up detail is much smaller. Because of its small size, it is possible to keep a miniature horse in a good sized backyard so that the rather substantial costs for boarding can be omitted.
Equipment such as halters, blankets, carts, harnesses etc. at the moment mostly have to be imported from the USA to Europe
, but first stores within Europe can be found already, too.
Apart from the costs mentioned above, you will also need a farrier to trim your little horse's hooves and a veterinarian for vaccinations and deworming. Additional costs are the fees for the registries/organisations/clubs you are a member of.

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Question: How do you keep a miniature horse?
Answer:
Just like its big counter part, miniature horses cannot be kept inside a house, but belong outside. The easiest way of keeping a mini is a free stall barn where the horse lives on a pasture or dry lot with a little refuge. Besides that, you can also keep a miniature horse in stalls at night if you can allow for sufficient excercise outside (e.g. on a dry lot or pasture) during the day. Horses are gregarious animals. Therefore it is not recommended that you keep a little horse alone, but in groups of two or more. Apart from that, a miniature horse requires the same care as any other horse breed. You will find a lot of literature on the care of horses in general.
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Question: Can you keep a miniature horse inside a house?
Answer:
No, you can't. A horse is a horse, no matter how tall. A horse does not belong inside a house.
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Question: Can you keep miniature horses with a big horses?
Answer:
It depends. If you are very cautious and careful in getting the horses used to each other, if the horses have enough space to sidestep each other and the big horses show no signs of aggression against the little ones, it may be possible to keep miniature horses with big horses. However, I discourage to do so because in a herd, there will always be little fights. That is natural and not to worry, but even a rather playful kick of a large horse could cause serious injuries to a miniature horse. Therefore, I suggest that you not even take the risk of an injury and keep miniature horses either in a herd with miniature horses only or in a herd with pony breeds more proportionate to their size.
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Question: Is an American Miniature Horse prone to certain diseases?
Answer:
The refined and elegant looks of American Miniature Horses seem to lead to the common misconception that American Miniature Horses are "porcelain horses" that are prone to many diseases. That is absolutely wrong! American Miniature Horses are robust little horses. You can keep them in a free stall barn year round and they are not more prone to diseases than any other horse or pony breed. That means that there can of course be colics or other minor sicknesses, but with good care, American Miniature Horses can be 30 years and older. Appropriate keeping is the key to a healthy American Miniature Horse - meaning: a balanced diet, sufficient exercise and regular visits of a farrier and a vet (vaccinations and deworming!).
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Question: What does AMHA mean?
Answer:
AMHA is the abbreviation for American Miniature Horse Association. The AMHA is one of the biggest breeder associations of the world and is based in Texas, USA. Information about the AMHA can be obtained through their official website: www.amha.org.
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Question: What does AMHR mean?
Answer:
AMHR stands for American Miniature Horse Registry. The AMHR is based in Illinois, USA. The AMHR had been founded years before the AMHA, but today has forfeited a lot of its influence to the AMHA. Information about the AMHR can be obtained through their official website: www.shetlandminiature.com.
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Question: What does EMHA mean?
Answer:
EMHA is the abbreviation for European Miniature Horse Association. This association has been founded in 2007 for the benefit of promoting and encouraging the general welfare of the different miniature horse breeds. They are aiming to achieve a truly European club with directors in as many European countries as possible. In representing Europe as a whole, they help organise and channel the European Miniature Horse breeders and owners and give them a voice that will be heard. More information about the EMHA can be found on its website, www.europeanminiaturehorse.com
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Question: What does MHCE mean?
Answer:
MHCE means Miniature Horse Club Europe. The Miniature Horse Club Europe has been founded a few years ago with the objective of being a common organisation for European miniature horse breeders and owners. It organizes shows, and clinics and is based in Heeswijk-Dinther in the Netherlands. The MHCE is not a breeder association and not a registry. More Information about the MHCE can be found on its website www.mhceurope.eu.
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Question: What does ICAMH mean?
Answer:
ICAMH stands for International Club for American Miniature Horses. The ICAMH has been founded in the Netherlands in 2006 with the objective of organizing clinics throughout Europe as well as shows with classes for AMHA and AMHR registered horses. The ICAMH is neither a breeder association nor a registry. More information about this new club can be obtained through the official website: www.icamh.com.
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Question: Is there a club for American Miniature Horses in my country?
Answer:
If you live within Europe, chances are that there is no club for American Miniature Horses only in your country. In France, there is the Miniature Horse Club France, based in Hénin-Beaumont, its website can be found >>here<<. Apart from that, there are three European clubs: EMHA, MHCE and ICAMH. However, since interest in American Miniature Horses is growing at an enormous pace, other clubs may be founded soon. In Germany, the Bayerische Zuchtverband für Spezialpferderassen has created a division in its studbooks for AMHA horses only.
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Question: Under which conditions can you register a foal with AMHA?
Answer:
You do not have to be an AMHA member to register a foal with AMHA. In order to get foal registered, both of its parents must be registered with the AMHA and must be DNA tested. For the foal's sire, a stallion report must be on file with AMHA. If you did not own both sire and dam at the time of service, a breeder certificate needs to be enclosed with the registration application. Four current pictures are also required. Forms for AMHA registration can be found online, please see >>this page<<.
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Question: Under which conditions can you register a foal with AMHR?
Answer:
For AMHR paperwork, you must be a current member of AMHR. In order to get your foal registered with AMHR, both of its parents must be AMHR registered. For the foal's sire, a stallion report must be on file with AMHR. If you did not own both sire and dam at the time of service, a breeder certificate needs to be enclosed with the registration application. DNA testing is not necessary at this time. As of January 1st, 2007, AMHR now requires four current pictures to accompany any registration application. AMHR Forms can be found online, please see >>this page<<.
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Question: What are differences between AMHA and AMHR and what do they have in common?
Answer:
The AMHR has been founded in 1971 as a division of the American Shetland Pony Club ASCP. The AMHR registers horses that are 34 inches or smaller in its A category and horses taller than 34 inches but smaller than 38 inches in its B category. The AMHA has been founded in Texas in 1978 and only registers horses that are 34 inches or under in its studbooks. The basis of the AMHA is its Standard of Perfection. Generally, the AMHA only issues papers for a foal if both of its parents are AMHA registered and DNA tested. Parent Qualification, i.e. a DNA test that proves that the horse in question is an offspring of a certain sire and dam, is available but not mandatory at this time. The AMHR has been a relatively open registry for years and hardshipping of horses outside of the studbooks was easier and less costly than in AMHA. However, the AMHR studbooks have been closed in 2004 and hardshipping a horse is now only possible for horses with AMHA or ASCP papers. AMHR is often criticised for still not requiring DNA tests or pictures before registering a foal. However, AMHR has reacted to this criticism and as of January 1st, 2007, pictures must accompany any AMHR registration application. Whether you prefer AMHA or AMHR registered horses will usually depend on which organisation shows more acitvity in your area. In general, AMHA registration values higher, though. In Germany, AMHA registration is mandatory in order to have your horse entered into the German studbooks for American Miniature Horses.
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Question: Who is the American Miniature Horse suited for?
Answer:

The AMHA uses the slogan: "The American Miniature Horse - The horse for everyone!" And it is true. Because of their gentle, affectionate nature and small size, a miniature horse is an excellent family pet. Many people buy miniatures who have big horses and want their children to love, to know how to care for, and to learn to ride years before they are ready for even the most gentle big horse. As the child outgrows riding the mini, it can be trained to pleasure drive. They easily pull a cart or small wagon with children and/ or adults. Older people find that these little horses bring and uncommon joy to their lives and often a renewed purpose and sense of self, not to mention that the grandchildren seem to visit even more. Also, shows are being organized, where the owner can exhibit his or her little horse in halter classes, but also in performance classes, such as jumping or driving. There's a saying in the USA which goes: "They are like potatoe chips - you can't just have one!"

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Question: What do you mean by the term "Nationals“ or "World Show“?
Answer:
The big national Miniature Horse shows in many countries are called "Nationals" or "World Show". The AMHA World Show for example takes places once each year in Texas. The little horses compete against each other in about 150 different classes: halter classes, youth classes, trails, driving, jumping etc. Previous to this giant spectacle, there are several qualification shows so that only the elite of American Miniature Horses will meet at the World Show. Usually, ten horses are placed per class. Those are the sought after "National Top Ten Champions“ or "World Top Ten Champions“. The newly founded European Miniature Horse Association EMHA intends to hold National shows for as many European countries as possible each year.
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Question: Which books about American Miniature Horses do you recommend?
Answer:

The following books are very useful and informative in my opinion:

- "Miniature Horses, Their Care, Breeding and Coat Colors" by Barbara Naviaux, ISBN 0963596411, available here: e.g. Raintree Publications or Amazon

- "Miniature Horses - A Veterinary Guide for Owners and Breeders" by Rebecca Frankeny, ISBN 0851318827, available here: e.g. Amazon or Ozark Mountain Minitack

- "Outstanding Miniature Horse Stallions: Past and Present - Vol.1" by Pat Elder, ISBN 1887932518, available here: e.g. Small Horse Press or Amazon

- "Outstanding Miniature Horse Mares: Past and Present" by Pat Elder, available here: Small Horse Press

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Question: Who should I turn to if I have additional questions concerning American Miniature Horses?
Answer:
I will be happy to help you with any additional questions you might have. You can reach me by phone at +49 (0) 8034 1001 or by email: conny@steinbrecher-reisen.de. As a delegate of the Bavarian Breeders Association, honorary international director in the AMHA, vice president of the EMHA, member of many Miniature Horse organisations, and one of the first and biggest breeders of AMHA horses in Europe, I should be able to give you qualified answers or help you find the person you need to turn to.

These questions and answers have been written by Conny Steinbrecher in cooperation with Julia Bauer.

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