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Small beauties

THis article appeared in the Sunday Telegraph on March 1, 2009

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When is a very small horse not called a pony? When it’s less than 34in and it’s a miniature horse. Although a pony is usually considered to be an equine standing at less than 14.2 hands high, when it comes to miniature horses, they are a breed – or several breeds – apart.

And for fans, there is no doubt that the best things come in tiny packages. For them, it’s not important adults, or children over the age of eight, can not ride these horses. The pleasure is in keeping such lovable and appealing animals.

Tikki Adorian, 66, has been breeding miniature horses since she was 18, agrees: second operation – Equiteenie World – in North Devon this year, a family centre near Barnstaple which will have a museum and educational centre and allow visitors the chance to groom and play with the horses.

“They are good companions, and appeal to people because of their personalities; they are great characters.”

She learned to ride on a miniature Shetland at the age of three, and now keeps up to 70 miniature horses at Toyhorse International, her stud near Rudgwick, West Sussex, with about 15 foals a year. Tikki plans to open a second operation – Equiteenie World – in North Devon this year, a family centre near Barnstaple which will have a museum and educational centre and allow visitors the chance to groom and play with the horses.

“Miniature horses are also highly intelligent and you can do quite a lot with them,” says Tikki, who founded the British Miniature Horse Society in 1994 to promote the welfare, breeding and showing of miniature horses, and is president of the International Miniature Horse and Pony Society.“You can drive them and jump them, not with a mounted jockey, but in-hand.”

Tikki is keen to encourage their use as driving horses. “A pair will pull two adults or an adult and a child. When they’re broken to harness you’ve got them for life, you don’t grow out of them,” she explains.

To that end, she runs driving courses with Gary Docking, who is renowned in the world of private driving, and would like to introduce scurry driving at Equiteenie World.

“As with any horse, what you put into it, it gives back to you,” says Tikki. “You can even make them part of the family. I know of people who used to bring theirs into the house to have breakfast with them.”