What is the difference between a miniature horse and a pony? Things to consider with minis

It may be time to size up the differences between a pony and mini horse. 

Words: SPCA

Miniature horses (or ‘minis’) may be about a quarter of the size of a normal-sized horse, but they see themselves as being just as big.

They also require the same care and attention, which can be a surprise to new owners who fall in love with their dog-like personalities.

Minis make great pets, and are known for their gentle, affectionate natures. Some are kept as service and guide animals.

Their size means they’re easy to transport and their friendly, patient nature makes them ideal for going into hospitals or retirement homes.

Depending on their height, size, and conformation, a miniature pony can’t carry a weight of more than 30kg (combined weight of rider and tack) but it can pull four times its own weight.

The SPCA has a new guide on what to consider if you want to own a mini. It covers their basic needs, but also the issues that can be common for the breed.


Ponies and mini horses are both small in comparison to a standard-sized horse, but there are marked physical differences in their appearance.


■ generally under 14 hands 2 inches (144.5cm at the shoulder);
■ stocky, with a thick neck
■ short legs;
■ thick, fluffy manes, tails and coats.

Miniature horses:

■ under 9 hands (97cm at the shoulder);
■ refined features of a horse;
■ longer necks than ponies;
■ straighter legs than ponies.

When put side by side with a full-sized horse and a pony, they should more accurately resemble the horse’s overall appearance.

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NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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