The origin of the American Miniature horse breed is shrouded in legend. Their roots lie in English and Dutch pony races dating back to the 17th century.

What is assured though is that these miniature horses emerged in the European courts of the 18th century.

In the 19th century, small ponies were exported to America for deployment in the coal mines of the Appalachian Mountains. In their blood lines one can find both Dartmoor and Shetland blood, which has been refined by cross-breeding with Hackneys, Falabella and ponies from the Americas, as well as English thoroughbreds.

From 1970, these horses have been bred with their own stud book, and since the 1978 establishment of the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) they are recognized as an official independent breed. Today, the AMHA has more than 11,000 members in 38 countries and has185, 000 Miniature horses within its registry.

AMHA registered full-grown horses may not be taller than 34 inches (864mm), measured at the last hairs on the mane. As an alternative or additionally, horses can be registered with the competitor federation, namely the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR). At AMHR, horses with a height between 34 and 38 inches can be registered in Division B.

The breed standard envisages that the American Miniature horse shall be a small, but slenderly built, an elegant horse with perfect proportions and good movement – so to say a small Arabian! The horse should also possess the same diligent, patient character and be as amenable and affectionate to humans as a full-sized horse. It is worth pointing out that it is suitable as a ‘halter’ horse for smaller children of approx. 5 years old.

Because of its slender build it is not suitable as a riding horse for children.

However, the horse is admirably able to be harnessed for pulling a lightweight sulky or cart. 

As all horses are registered in the two American federations, all competitions are carried out in accordance with their regulations under the auspices of American judges. There are approximately 140 classes subdivided into adults, children and adolescents, the horses’ sex, size and age and the kind of presentation. The two most important classes are the so-called ‘halter classes’, in which the conformation of the horses under halter are examined, as well as various driving classes with a sulky or cart in tow.