Your Guide to Equine Health Care

Equine Dwarfism: Not a Small Problem

Dwarfism in horses causes major health challenges, leading to a heightened risk of functional handicaps, nutritional disorders, chronic pain, and serious welfare concerns.

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Equine Dwarfism: Not a Small Problem
Miniature Horse dwarfs are precious, but these animals' genetic condition puts them at a high risk of health and welfare issues. | Photo: Courtesy The Peeps Foundation

These tiny horses require special management

Stories from 13th-century Norse poetry, penned by Vikings, first introduced dwarfs as mythological men with ironsmithing talents. In the following centuries, Germanic folklore described dwarfs as small yet gifted with a miraculous power to heal.

By the 19th century, the German Grimm brothers had created the popular idea of the seven dwarfs housing a runaway princess. Walt Disney later adapted that story, bringing fabled dwarfs to international pop culture at about the same time J.R.R. Tolkien started publishing fantastical tales about these creatures. These latest influences probably played the most important role in giving us the image of the fictional dwarf today. 

But in the real world of horses, dwarfism is a condition characterized by short stature and ­malformations—and, unfortunately, it doesn’t grant healing powers to go with them.

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Written by:

Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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