Mini horses are a popular breed. Due to their smaller size, they don’t take up nearly as much space as a full size horse would, nor do they eat as much food. This all helps cut down on costs and problems such as space.
These horses are not just pets, they have also been known to trim grass in suburban neighborhoods, carry small carts, and act as seeing eye guides and provide other medical needs to those who need it.
Though they are smaller than their regular sized cousins, they still need the same amount of attention and care. Here are some of the most common problems mini horses have and how you, their owner, can help them.
Mini horses commonly have weight issues, more often than not they are overweight rather than underweight. If your mini horse is overweight or obese, it can cause some serious health problems down the line, so make sure to pay close attention to their weight.
Mini horses can thrive on a diet of hay and some beat pulp. These horses evolved to utilize a small amount of calories, which means overfeeding is a common problem. A good marker of how much you should feed your mini each day is to give them 1.5-2% of the horses total weight in pounds of hay. So if your horse weighs 200 lbs, they would get between three and four pounds of hay.
If you are feeding your mini grain, make sure to not overdo it. Too much grain can lead to colic and weight issues. When feeding grain to your mini, more frequent feedings are preferable to one large feeding. Trace mineral salt can also help keep electrolytes up in hot weather and encourages your horse to drink water.
In addition to their diet, make sure they are getting enough exercise. If left to their own devices, they would stroll in their pasture all day, relaxing and munching on some grass.
Mini horses have a lot of dental troubles. Make sure to pay close attention to their teeth in order to catch and prevent issues like the following.
This is a condition where the mini’s baby teeth (deciduous) do not fall out in a timely fashion. When this happens, the horse’s mouth gets overcrowded and can cause pain and damage to the horse. When this happens the teeth should be examined and potentially pulled by a veterinarian.
Overbites and Underbites
Overbites and underbites are another common problem when it comes to mini horses. If your mini has this problem, they will require frequent dental care.
In the “sow mouth” the upper jaw is shorter than the bottom. While with “parrot mouth” the upper jaw is longer than the bottom. These issues can make it difficult for the horse to chew and eat.
A veterinarian should be able to correct these issues through use of wires.
Mini horses can suffer from orthopedic problems, just like any other horse. Though it is more common in horses with dwarfism.
Ligament Laxity and Tightness
Mini foals are sometimes born with tendon and ligament laxity or tightness. In ligament laxity, the ligaments are loose, leaving the joints in need of support that they should have gotten from the ligaments. The soft tissue should firm up eventually and support the joints as they were meant to.
In ligament tightness there needs to be gentle stretching to the affected area. These problems are important to catch as soon as possible since mini horses grow rapidly.
Mini horses tend to have more patella problems than their larger counterparts.
When the patella gets locked, the rear leg of your horse will be extended and unable to flex. This is called an upward fixation of the patella. It can fix itself, but if it is a recurring problem surgery and specific exercises may be needed to prevent it.
Another issue that can occur is the luxated patella. This issue can result in long-term lameness. It is most common in foals. You can see it when they struggle to stand or move. There will be another indicator as well: an abnormal bump on the outside of the horse’s stifle joint. With a luxated patella, part of the knee is much more shallow than it should be, which causes problems. When your horse suffers from this, a vet can reposition and deepen certain areas of the knee surgically in order to prevent further issues.
Angular Limb Deformities
Angular limb deformities can be caused by various things, including ligament laxity, which we mention above. When your mini has this issue, they can have difficulty walking along with abnormal hoof wear and discomfort.
There are a few ways to solve this problem, one being surgery. Another option is bandaging and splinting the limbs in order to provide additional support to the horse. With this method, frequent vet visits are common. This is because mini horses grow very fast and, in turn, need bandage and splint changes pretty often. Changing the bandages is very important because if they are too small they can cause other problems like soreness and infections.
Mini horses are a great addition to your life. With these quick tips, we hope that your horse (or future horse) can stay safe and healthy from potential problems in their life.
If you would like to learn more about how to care for mini horses, click here.