Have you always wanted a horse but simply lack the space? Is feeding a large equine just out of reach in your monthly budget? Are you looking for a great source of manure for your compost pile? Are you looking to get involved and have fun with horses? Here is an idea - try out miniature horses! I thought you all might enjoy getting a little picture of why I own my own pony and what it is like to own mini horses. I have interacted with and owned mini horses since I was a little kid, and have enjoyed them very much.
(Me and Tux, a mini horse of my Mom's that I grew up with)Some great things about owning your own mini horse or small pony:
1. You don't need a lot of space. Now, don't mistake me, you do need SOME space. But just not near the space that a large equine needs. I have a small pony/miniature that currently lives on about a 1/4 of an acre which is fenced into two parts. He mainly lives on one side which is a "dry lot" - that is, there is very little grass growing on it. I let him graze on green grass on the other side of the fence only for short periods of time each day - about 1-2 hours twice a day. The rest of the day he gets a constant supply of hay in his hay feeder. It is important that a small horse does not get too much green grass which is why Bill, our pony, gets only small amounts of it at a time. We do not want him to get sick, and so far this has worked wonderfully for him!
2. You can do so many things with mini horses. Learn to drive a pony cart, enter your mini horse into shows, and connect with other people who are involved with mini horses! If you have really special, well mannered mini horses you can use them to interact with children and even elderly people who enjoy horses but can no longer ride. You can hug them, love them, groom them, and take care of them! Some mini horses and ponies can be taught to carry around very small children as well.
3. They just don't cost near as much as full-sized horses. On average, a horse or pony should get about 2% of his body weight in food per day. So let's do some figuring based on that:
If you own a 1,000-pound horse: 20 pounds of hay, grass, and feed per day.
If you own a 750-pound horse: 15 pounds of hay, grass, and feed per day.
If you own a 400-pound mini horse: 8 pounds of hay, grass, and feed per day.
I currently do not feed Bill any special feed because he is not pulling a cart or doing any work at this point. So all that I feed Bill is hay and grass. I make sure to always have the 8 pounds of feed available in the form of hay for him to munch on throughout the day. We are trying very hard to keep Bill eating all day long, which is how a horse eats in the wild and it is the most healthy for him. Horses that go without eating for long periods (3 hours or longer) can develop severe stomach problems and other bad habits. Keep your horses and ponies eating as much as possible!
Here is a chart breakdown on cost if feeding a horse their 2% from hay (assuming one flake of hay weighs 5 pounds, that there are about 14 flakes in a bale, and a bale of hay is 10$, which is fairly typical for out here):
If you own a 1,000-pound horse: 85$/month, or about 8 and a 1/2 bales per month.
If you own a 750-pound horse: 65$/month, or about 6 and a 1/2 bales per month.
If you own a 400-pound mini horse: 35$/month, or about 3 and 1/2 bales per month.
4. You can use their poo for compost! Click here for my blog post on using Bill's manure to make his upkeep cheaper.