I thought I would do an update of my tiny track and share how it’s working this winter.
I still love it. The ponies are moving around all the time. Right now they are not using the entire track because one side of it is a big, deep snow drift. Once in a while they will try to come down that side and I cringe the whole time they are floundering through it. It wasn’t so bad when the drift was soft but now it’s hard as a rock!
I feed at the opposite side of the track from the water so they have to walk a bit to get a drink. They all look very healthy and I have to fill the trough every 4-5 days which is about how often I filled it this summer so they are drinking enough. I have loose salt and magnesium in the shed so they have access to that at all times. Because it’s so cold and windy the chickens spend most of their days in the horse shed and then go back into their coop at night. Then the ponies use the shed at night… they are usually covered with sawdust in the mornings so I know they are laying down in there. They also lounge around in front of the shed when the sun is shining.
I put wind breaks around the track so they would have something to back up to when the wind really gets to blowing. If it’s 4 degrees out and the wind comes up to about 30 mph then it quickly drops to minus 10, 15 or even 20 degrees. They have two run in shed options but always choose to stand out in it. This morning the wind was blowing so much snow around that I couldn’t see 5 feet in front of me and I found them backed up to the hay stack in the far shelter. They typically don’t like that one when the wind is blowing because the roof is made up of tarps and they flap around a bit. But today they made an exception!!
It’s amazing to me how the morning can be so windy, freezing and snowy and then the afternoon is bright blue skies and beautiful! (The wind is blowing a bit so it is FREEZING out there!)
All three of the ponies will get a bee in their bonnets and take off racing around and around the track. I love it when they do this! Bonnie and Zorro play with each other, chasing and bucking and rearing up to play bite. Sky watches them a bit annoyed but will run around the track on her quite a bit. I love watching them exercise in this way!
Here is a little video of my track! There isn’t any music, just the sound of my feet in the snow and the wind, for those of you that read this while at work 😉
Animals respond to essential oils in much the same way as humans. Most animals are more sensitive to the effects of essential oils than humans and often seem to have a natural affinity to the healing influence of the oils. – Essential Oils Desk Reference
Many people believe that the hair keeps the oils from reaching the skin when applying the oils topically. But actually the more hair follicles the more easily the animal can absorb the oils!
Animal sensitivity to essential oils may be due to the density of hair follicles on a particular animal. The more follicles per square inch of skin, the more enhanced the absorption of essential oils. – Essential Oils Desk Reference
It’s best to start with small amounts of the oil or oils you are working with and then work up to more. Horses absorb the oils very efficiently so it’s best to apply a few oils and then give them a bit of time to work before applying more. You can apply the oils topically along the spine, on the poll, or on the hoof.
Rubbing oils around the coronet band will allow the oils to reach the bloodstream and travel through the nerves in the legs to the spine. – Essential Oils Desk Reference
Often when you offer a horse an oil they will smell it, sometimes deeply. Other times they will turn their head away. This does not mean they don’t need the oil it can mean the smell is new or unfamiliar and they just need to get used to it. If the reaction is more dramatic or you really feel the horse doesn’t like the oil, then choose a different one to use. There are many different oils that will help in similar ways. Oils are absorbed into the bloodstream even through inhalation, so they will benefit from just smelling them. This is especially helpful when working with a horse that doesn’t like to be touched.
There is no right or wrong way to apply essential oils. Every animal is a little different. Use common sense and good judgement as you experiment with different methods. Observe carefully how the animal responds to the treatment. – Essential Oil Desk Reference
As usual, if you have any questions you can either leave a comment below or emailme!
While the weather outside is frigid, freezing and many days, howling with wind, I sit inside and think about my 2017 journey – what I want to accomplish, how I want it to feel, how I want my horses to feel. Some days I feel completely overwhelmed with just the thought of what I want to have happen in 2017. Then I remember that I need to stay calm and centered and do as much as I can without sacrificing the relationship I am searching to have with my horses.
I always want my horses to come running when they see me. I always want my horses to be my friends. I always want my horses to be friendly and confident when in my presence. In this way we can accomplish so much!!
I see Sky and myself driving many miles on the roads and trails this summer. I see the girls and I enjoying a lot of hiking – even if I have to drag my two human boys along kicking and screaming! I see Zorro growing into a handsome young stallion and continuing to have nice manners and a curious nature. I see Captain Planet as my farm mascot, greeting new people and being very gentle and understanding with children. I see Bonnie getting super confident in harness and while dragging different things behind her.
I see helping my friends and neighbors begin to enjoy driving their horses as well. Then I see getting together with friends and neighbors for group driving days!
I know my grandparents are feeling overwhelmed with their 4 miniature horses so I am prepared to have them come to live with me. I will not be keeping them all but I do plan on training a couple of them to drive so I can find great homes for them! And I know that I may not be able to do all of this in 2017, but will do as much as I can. I am prepared to forgive myself if I can’t keep up with everything and have to ask for help. (I may have to bookmark this post and keep re-reading it so I remember to ask for help!)
I see letting go of 2016 completely so I can move on in 2017 with joy, light and laughter!
Every year I sit down and go back over the previous year. I think about what I want to make happen in the new year and settle on a “Word of the Year.” In 2015 my word was Inspire. I spent that year really making head way with Billy, riding him on the trails and going to Colorado for a week long Level 3 Freestyle/Bridleless course. It was a fantastic spring/summer!! Even if I did break my arm on April 1st.
Then I had my confidence shaken while riding, in September and broke my other arm. Though I didn’t need surgery this time, it really broke my heart. I thought I wasn’t worthy of horse ownership. I cried. A lot. That was a difficult winter. So when I sat down to look at the past year and come up with a new word I was searching for peace, harmony and contentment. My word for 2016 was Calm. I was needing to spend some time getting centered again.
I read lots of books that would help me figure out a few things. I spent lots of undemanding time with Billy and I knew that I wasn’t going to ride anymore. It was a bit of a struggle to admit that to myself, but I wasn’t enjoying riding. I was worried and tense and scared most of the time I was sitting on Billy. Trying to find my Calm while feeling so tense and scared was difficult.
On top of those feelings I had to balance my family. I homeschool my two boys, neither of which are even remotely interested in horses, and try to keep my hubby happy, knowing he doesn’t like horses. At all. My two accidents put a dent in my ability to homeschool, do my housework, cook and clean AND spend time with Billy. Not to mention bring in a small amount of money every month to PAY for my horse addiction. Things were not working out. My hubby was upset with me and we fought. A lot. I made the extremely difficult decision to find Billy a better home with someone confident and fun and understanding. He needs LOTS of understanding. He is definitely a one-of-a-kind horse.
Choosing to let Billy go to someone who would ride him was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made – and I have sold and re-homed horses many times over the years. Billy was one of my heart horses. Luckily I am not the type of person who believes we only get one heart horse in our lifetime. In fact I have had 7 heart horses so far and believe I have one or two standing out in my pasture right now. However, Billy was a very special boy.
Billy wasn’t happy just being a pet and because he was so young, only 5 years old, I knew he would thrive with someone that would ride him. He found a wonderful home up in the mountains at a guest ranch. The owners of the ranch are kind, compassionate people. When they met Billy and he put his big old head on them they wrapped their arms around it and gave him big hugs. The wife had a pocket full of cookies for him. They are both the real deal and thought Billy was just about the neatest horse they had ever met! He would have lots of horse friends at the ranch and there would be lots to do and see. There would be no chance of him getting bored. I made it a point of delivering him to his new home so I could see him settle in. They were very impressed when we pulled up with my tiny two horse trailer. (In order to shut the door Billy would have to stick his head out the front window!!) Billy was so good. When I opened the back door of the trailer he waited patiently for me to ask him out. Then he stepped out slowly, one foot at a time, calmly looked around and then walked quietly to the arena. The arena is surrounded by big dry lot pens full of horses and Billy’s eyes were WIDE open taking it all in. We walked around a bit and I showed them a few of his talents, including laying down on command, then I let him go and he went around making friends. He immediately befriended a horse that usually doesn’t like ANY horses. Within a few minutes they were sharing a mutual groom over the fence. His new owners were amazed!
When we drove away I was crying, but Billy didn’t even look for me as I left. Before he would follow my vehicle, whinnying, if I left him anywhere. I had a good feeling about this home.
I kept in touch all summer but couldn’t bring myself to go see him. Every time I thought about it I would cry so I figured it was better for both him and myself to let him go. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I’m sure when my boys leave for the military or college I will feel the same way.
I ended up being very surprised at the people that no longer wanted anything to do with me after I found another home for Billy. First the loss of Billy then the loss of some of my “friends” was almost too much. So many times I wanted to walk away from this blog and delete Facebook all together. I can’t say why I didn’t.
I think watching me feel so heartbroken was hard for my Hubby – after the initial anger he felt because I feel the need to have a horse. He watched me struggle for a bit and then casually mentioned miniature horses one day while we were out fixing fence. (One of the many reasons he doesn’t like horses!) I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of that myself! I had been dreading the idea of living without horses. (Something I am NOT good at!) And I had never stopped missing my minis.
I called my Mom to tell her my great idea of getting minis again and she offered me her two minis, Sky and Zorro! My good friend Katrina offered me back Captain Planet and walla! I was the proud owner of miniature horses again.
I found Bonnie for sale on Facebook (good thing I didn’t delete it!) and soon I was the proud owner of 4 miniature horses!
Other things I have gathered over the summer and fall are a miniature horse Hoofjack, mini horseEasyboots and a pair of miniature horse Cavallo boots! Miniature things are so cute.
I came across an awesome wholefood horse feedthis year as well. I was thrilled to have a local feed store agree to order some and begin carrying it. My ponies have flourished on it!
The girls and I did a lot of hiking and walking this year. Until my health made it too painful for me… This fall we didn’t get out as often as I would have liked!
I have been struggling with some different issues for the last few years. This was my “Year of the Doctor” and I found out I needed to have a full hysterectomy. I was scared but also hopeful! Scared to have that much of my body removed, but hopeful that I would have energy, no more pain and be able to resume my walking! So for the month of November and much of December I recovered from surgery. It really cut into my time with my ponies, but allowed me to work on my website/blog. Many changes happened around here during that time. Hopefully they were all good!
I love making graphics. So I started making lots and lots of graphics for my website:
YL Essential Oils Animal Care
Equine Body Work
Tips & Tricks for taking Awesome photos of your horse… By Yourself!
And I have made lots of Young Living graphics too:
Young Living Essential Oil – Grounding
Young Living Essential Oil – Lemon
Disinfecting Horse Brushes using Young Living Essential Oils
Disinfecting Puppy Toys Young Living Essential Oils
Someday maybe I’ll make money doing this! I really enjoy blogging, photography and graphic design.
I have been thinking about the year 2017 and what I would like to make happen. I will get Sky going in harness again and we will spend some time sledding around the fields and driving on the roads, getting ready for some mountain driving this summer. I am even kicking around the idea of another driving book, this one centered around sledding and mountain driving. I am going to start Bonnie ground driving and wearing the harness, going slowly with her so she is confident. It’s important to me that she enjoy the process so she can enjoy driving! I’m going to keep watching Zorro grow up. He is getting so handsome! One of my grandma’s little mares is bred for an early summer foal, so I am looking forward to that baby. It will be a half sibling to Zorro.
So back to my “Word of the Year” – I’ve put a lot of thought into it… After lots of deliberation, doodling, jotting down notes and making a word map, I have settled on the word MOXIE. Moxie resonated with me in two ways. It made me feel energized about the year ahead and made me feel excited about learning even more about horsemanship, horses and driving!
I am very excited about 2017. I see many great things happening in the next year and I plan to meet it with lots of vigor and pep!
If you feel moved to do so, please share your word of the year in the comments below!
I have been looking online for the perfect vehicle that my ponies can pull me in this winter and many winters to come. We get a lot of snow, but we also get a lot of wind which can clear the snow off the road (or pile it 6 feet high sometimes!) therefor sleigh runners on my cart will not work. Plus sleigh runners are meant for hard packed snow and we don’t really have that either, not in a way that is groomed and manageable.
Then I saw Team Radar on Facebook having a blast in a black game sled, the kind you would pull behind a snow mobile. I looked closer and noticed she had shafts attached. I contacted her and she kindly took many close up photos of her set up so I could begin brainstorming!
I was lucky enough to make a new friend this fall when she contacted me about training her minis to drive. I went to her house and played with her ponies for a bit one day and we had a blast. It came up in conversation that her hubby likes to play around with a welder and has made a pretty awesome sculpture they have out in front of their place. So, when this idea for a ‘one horse open sleigh’ came into my head – I knew exactly who to contact for help!
I sent them photos of Team Radar’s set up and then explained through photos and my words exactly what I was needing. Ryan studied everything I sent him and in just one day put together a prototype that had me so excited I drove my sled and shafts (and my neighbors sled and shafts!) up to their place during one of the coldest days of the winter, over horrible roads and through terrible gusts of wind, to have him build my attachment! He put it together in just a few hours even though the garage was freezing and he couldn’t wear gloves while working.
I am blown away by people that can do things like this! I mean how totally amazing is it when you can explain what you want and they build it exactly the way it is in your head!? (On a side note I think my Logan will be able to do this as well… hmmm… maybe I should be saving up to get him a welder!)
I wanted something that would allow me to use the shafts I already have. And I wanted it to be easy to put on and take off. I needed it to be fairly light so there will be little to no weight on the pony’s back. I wanted a single tree with a spot to clip a trace end clip to it or slide my slotted trace ends over it, depending on how I wanted to drive that day. I wasn’t concerned about how it looked just that it would be sturdy enough to hold up through some pretty round terrain and fun sledding time!
Ryan really came through for me. What he came up with went above and beyond what I was asking for. I am so thrilled with this set up – and so is my neighbor who also wants to enjoy some sledding with her ponies! (She has an Otter Sled and straight shafts. I’ll get some pictures of her set up to share soon…)
I really love how this works. Ryan came up with putting more u brackets on the side of the shafts as well so that they would be more sturdy. This also makes the entire unit act like one solid piece.
If you are interested in having an attachment made for your sled please comment below or send me an email! I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
Though miniature horses are small, they are mighty! It surprises people when they find out how much weight a miniature horse can pull over flat ground in a well balanced cart or wagon. That number will change over difficult terrain, though they can still manage more than you think! (and you should NEVER hitch your mini to a poorly balanced cart or wagon!)
“When compared to a full size horse, most minis are less than half the height, weigh only 20% (1/5) of a big horse and eat only 1/4 or 25% of what they do. Due to the center of gravity being so low, they can pull 4 times the weight of a draft horse, size by size. A miniature horse is able to pull 3-5 times its weight, but younger horses should not be as weighted down. A miniature can also jump higher proportionally than a big horse.” – IAM Ranch http://www.iamranch.com/minifacts.htm
So obviously, driving is one thing you can do with your miniature horse!
Another is in-hand trail. This is similar to trail classes that people do while mounted on a big horse. We compete with the mini on the lead line and also do some trail classes while driving!
Miniature horses are the perfect size for therapy horses, visiting nursing homes and hospitals. They have been trained as seeing eye horses and service horses as well. Gentle Carousel is a well known miniature horse therapy program. They have been all over the news as well as all over the US visiting people in schools and hospitals, bringing miniature horse good cheer!
Something rather new and very fun has been taking the horse world by storm – Horse Agility. This is a wonderful way to spend time with your horse on the ground and since you can’t ride miniature horses it’s a wonderful thing to do with your little horse! I just purchased the book,“The Horse Agility Handbook: A Step-By-Step Introduction to the Sport” on Amazon and am so excited to begin this with my minis! I can see some obstacle building in my Handsome Hubby’s future.
There are two types of Liberty that you can participate in with miniature horses. One is a class at sanctioned shows. In this class you enter the arena with your horse in halter. You wait for your selected music to start and then un-halter your horse and encourage him to trot and canter around the arena, showing off to the crowd and the judges! When I did this I never did any encouraging of my own horse (this would help me catch my horse at the end), but had my two helpers run the stick and plastic bags – only in the corners of the arena. I didn’t like my mini to gallop around wildly, but to play more. We practiced this at home and they loved it! When the music is over you have 3 minutes to catch and re-halter your horse. I taught mine to come to me when I squatted down. So catching was never a problem. But it can be! I’ve watched a handler spend the entire 3 minutes trying to catch their horse and then need help after their time was up… The horses can get really fired up!
The second form of Liberty is playing with your horse without halter or lead rope. In this case you can communicate to your horse exactly what you would like to do and being a good partner, they willingly engage.
In hand jumping is another really fun way to spend time with your miniature horse. Just like big horses, some of them are great jumpers and others aren’t. My Bonnie is a wonderful, correct jumper, but Sky doesn’t really like it so she either over jumps wildly or bangs into the jumps, barely clearing them.
CDE’s (Combined Driving Events) are another way to get out and enjoy your mini horse. CDE’s are the driving worlds equivalent to Three Day Eventing in the riding world. There are three different categories you show in, dressage, obstacle and marathon.
The first day’s combined driving dressage class tests a single, pair or team in the areas of obedience, freedom and regularity of motion, and impulsion through a sequence of compulsory movements executed within a designated area or arena. -USEF website
Day two sees competitors tackle the fast-paced and demanding phase known as the cross-country marathon in which a horse’s fitness, stamina, agility, and obedience are tested together with a driver’s accuracy and judgment as they are asked to negotiate an intricate series of hazards which can include water, steep hills, and sharp turns in the fastest time while accumulating the least number of penalties. -USEF website
The third and final phase— the cone driving competition— tests a horse’s obedience, agility, and after two previously demanding days of competition, its endurance. Simultaneously, a driver’s skill, accuracy, and precision are tested as the single, pair, or team is challenged with negotiating an intricate course of narrowly-spaced cones cleanly and within the time allowed. -USEF website
You don’t have to show your miniature horse to enjoy spending time with it. You can teach them to pull a sled in the winter time so you can spend time together playing in the snow! I have my game sled and am having an attachment made so I can put my easy entry cart shafts on it… then Sky can pull me all around our snow fields!! I’m so excited about this!
I take my girls hiking and walking all the time. They really enjoy getting out and I love having the company. You can also purchase little pack saddles for them so they can carry your lunch and water.
I also really enjoy dressing them up and taking pictures of them. They all love it because I am very generous with the treats during our photo shoots…
Sky in her fall leaves.
Bonnie in her fall leaves.
Captain Planet in his fall leaves.
Sky in her flower crown.
Zorro with his unicorn horn on!
If you can think of anything else that I didn’t include please leave it in the comments below! And as always, if you have any questions please leave a comment or send me an email.
Most miniature horse breeders will take offense if you call their horses, ponies. I call all mine ponies because I am aware that the Shetland Pony was used in the making of the miniature horse. From the early 1600’s people have been choosing the smallest Shetland ponies and crossing them on small horses to develop the mini horse.
The miniature horse is in essence a height breed. The AMHA miniature horse can be no taller than 34″ at the last mane hair. This typically is not exactly at the withers. In fact it can be further down from the withers toward the back. The AMHR miniature horse can be no taller than 38″ at the last mane hair.
In the late 1800’s these little horses were imported to America from Europe. They weren’t well known until about 1960 as they were primarily used in Appalachian coal mines. In 1962 the first Falabella horses were imported into the US by the Regina Winery in California. They used the little stallions to pull a stagecoach in parades, promoting their winery.
“The Falabella horse was originally developed in Argentina from local horses of Criollo stock, beginning in 1868 with the breeding program of Patrick Newtall.” Wikipedia
Patrick Newtall’s son-in-law inherited the breeding farm when his father-in-law passed away. He added Welsh ponies, Shetland ponies and small Thoroughbreds to the breeding program and with careful inbreeding was able to get the size down below 40″.
I would say that most of the miniature horses today can be traced back to Shetland ponies and the Falabella. Often you will see an “Unknown” in a horse’s pedigree. That was common in the past to cover up the fact that the mini had Shetland in it’s pedigree. Instead they wanted people to believe they were exclusively bred down from big horses. Sometimes the “Unknown” means that they really don’t know who the parents of the little horse are. It was a common practice to hardship small enough ponies into the registries years ago. The rules for doing this have changed a bit over the years.
In fact people have used Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Welsh ponies to develop the miniature horse characteristics that we see today. Some of the most popular miniature horses today look a lot like the Arabian horse. The Arenosa bloodline (which is primarily American Shetland pony) is one of them. The Arenosa bred horses are tough to beat in the show ring! They have long legs, long necks and shorter backs – making them look more horse like than pony like.
Then you have the pony style miniature horse – shorter legs, thicker necks and longer backs. At the local shows I still see lots of minis like the ones below. I owned the 31″ tall gelding on the left for a few years and showed him locally! He was such a sweet boy and a wonderful driving mini, though he didn’t have the stamina that the larger minis have. The 32″ mare, Amber, on the right is still standing in the pasture at my mom’s. She is a wonderful mother and has had several very nice foals for us. She was never shown.
Bug – 31″ Gelding
Amber – 32″ mare
When bred to a leggier, more refined stallion the short legged, long bodied mares can make some beautiful foals!
The black and white stallion on the left is KLS Pistolero, an Arenosa bred stallion. The filly on the right is Chantilly, our filly out of Amber, above, and KLS Pistolero. I am using this to show how well thought out breeding can help take a short legged, long bodied horse and turn it into a long legged, long necked horse!
My minis fall in the middle of these two extremes. They are longer legged because they are the “B” sized minis, meaning they over 34″ tall. A few have nice necks and a few have short, thick necks.
Years ago some breeders used Dwarf miniatures in their breeding programs to keep the size down. This is a little like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes you’ll get a better version of the parents and sometimes you’ll get all the worst traits of the parents.
There are some miniature horses that display a few dwarf characteristics but are not extreme enough to be pulled out of the breeding stock. We had a mare and stallion that when bred to each other produced a dwarf foal. We gelded the stallion and re-homed the mare as a pet. We were not willing to knowingly breed horses that produced a dwarf. This is totally a personal preference as there are many breeders out there breeding known dwarf carriers. They do this to keep the size down.
This is information that I dug up all over the internet. Some of it is my personal opinion and some is scientifically based. Hopefully I answered the question, “What is a miniature horse?”