Feeding Your Mini
Most minis do not need grain, especially if their primary purpose is simply being a pet. If you drive your mini regularly or otherwise engage him in strenuous exercise, a cup of feed designed especially for minis at the morning and evening meals generally suffices.
If your mini is pregnant or lactating, ask your vet about feeding grain. Obesity is a big problem for these little horses, and that can lead to laminitis and other health issues. Feed your mini approximately 1.5 percent of his weight daily in timothy or grass hay. Avoid alfalfa -- it's too rich for these little guys, although your vet may OK small amounts for pregnant or lactating mares, or minis in serious work.
If your mini weighs 250 pounds, he should receive a total of 3.5 pounds of hay daily. If he scarfs his hay up too quickly, consider purchasing a slow-feeder hay net, which makes him work a little harder to get his hay and keeps him busy longer. Your mini should always have access to clean, fresh water.
Take care allowing your mini access to pasture. Lush grass can easily bring on laminitis_,_ as well as causing too much weight gain. While the rule of thumb for full-size horses is one acre of pasture per horse for maintenance, up to five minis can do well on that same acre -- as long as the grass isn't too rich.
Mini Housing and Fencing
Your mini doesn't require elaborate housing. A run-in shed or a stall in a barn is just fine. It's more important to keep these small equines safe from predators, including neighborhood dogs. Consider installing woven-wire fencing with small holes, so that a mini can't get his hoof caught in it. Such fencing prevents dogs, coyotes or other predators from getting into the paddock and harming your miniature horses.
Health issues affecting full-size equines also affect minis. Your miniature requires regular farrier care, deworming, vaccinations and dental work. Most minis don't wear shoes and should have their feet trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks. Because minis often suffer from dental issues resulting from a full set of horse teeth in a tiny mouth, it's important to have them examined by an equine dentist at a young age so corrections can be made early on.
Mini mares often experience problems giving birth. If you're dealing with a pregnant mini, unless you are an experienced breeder, send the mini to a breeding farm for the sake of the mare and foal. Besides dystocia, or difficulty in birth, minis have a high rate of early placental separation. That causes a lack of oxygen in the newborn foal, often resulting in death.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.