Maximizing Mini Health

Miniature Horses might be small, but their health needs are just as sizable as their full-sized counterparts.

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Several pint-sized horses careen across the pasture at breakneck speeds, alternately impressing observers with their grace and garnering giggles with their dainty antics. They might be smaller than their full-sized horse counterparts, but their needs are unique, their bodies are just as complex, and their conditions just as grave.

The issues Miniature Horses can face are structural, dental, dietary, disease-­related, and reproductive. And as with any horse, keeping a Mini healthy requires staying alert and responding quickly to signs of trouble. The plus side? “Minis can easily live into their 30s,” says Rebecca Frankeny, VMD, author of Miniature Horses: A Veterinary Guide for Owners and Breeders and owner of Juniata Mobile Veterinary Service, in Central Pennsylvania. “If they’re not allowed to get too fat and their legs are straight, they tend not to develop arthritis and other limiting conditions that the big horses get. And, not carrying people around, they don’t put that much wear and tear on their legs and bodies. So they tend to stay sound for years and years.”

In this article we’ll discuss how to keep your Miniature Horses happy and healthy in your pastures for years to come.

Look that Mini in the Mouth

Typically, expert dental care is more crucial for Miniature Horses than it is for full-sized horses. Mary DeLorey, DVM, whose Northwest Equine Dentistry serves Washington state and Western Idaho, explains that although Minis have been bred for very small faces and skulls, their teeth haven’t shrunk accordingly. And, like full-sized horses, they have 24 cheek teeth—six upper and six lower on each side—and there’s little space for all those teeth to fit comfortably. Teeth might emerge into that cramped area malformed, misaligned, and even rotated up to 90 degrees. “And you can’t de-rotate a tooth,” Delorey explains. “It will likely need to come out—­preferably before it endangers adjacent teeth

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Written by:

D.J. Carey Lyons is a lifelong resident of Chester County, Pa. She also has written for USDF Connection, Practical Horseman, Equine Images, and Dressage & CT.

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