Friday, May 21, 2010

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course. Unless…

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
Since the birth of what may be the smallest horse ever born in Barnstead, N.H., there is increased curiosity about miniature horses.
“They’re actual horses,” Lynn Baker of Little Brook Farm in Arundel said in a telephone interview this week. “The only difference is the size.”
Baker said miniature horses can be divided into two categories, Class A (30 to 34 inches in height) and Class B (34 to 38 inches in height). She noted that miniatures are measured in inches while horses are measured in hands, each hand about four inches.
Einstein, the pinto born at Tiz A Miniature Horse Farm owned by Judy Smith in Barnstead, was six pounds and 14 inches when born a few weeks ago.
“He’s doing great,” Charles Cantrell, one of his owners said in a telephone interview this week. “He’s an extremely healthy young man. We’re giving him everything he needs.”
Cantrell and Dr. Rachel Wagner, the other owner, expect Einstein to be between 17 to 22 inches tall when he’s fully grown in about two years.
The owners have begun the long, arduous process of qualifying Einstein with Guinness as the world’s smallest horse.
Baker said miniatures were bred originally “to work in the mines” because there was a need for a “strong, very sturdy horse to pull the carts out of the mines.”
She said “you can do everything you do with a full size horse, except adults can’t ride them.”
Baker, who has three miniatures and a mare who is expected to foal in the near future, said miniatures “are wonderful for kids” and while they need care, they are not as hard to care for as a full-size horse. They still require the same kinds of care. They make great pets.”
Baker said she has “always been in love with horses” but due to arthritis and joint disease, full-size animals would be hard for her to handle. That’s not the case with miniatures.
One problem with the miniatures, she said, is a tendency to become obese if not properly fed and exercised. Another problem, she said, is dwarfism.
Einstein has received a full examination from specialists, Cantrell said, to assure his safety. He said he and Dr. Wagner are aware of how rare a horse Einstein is and they consider his birth “an act of God” and “a gift.”
“His conformation is absolutely perfect,” Cantrell said. “Everything on him is perfect.”
There are three farms listed by the Miniature Horse Farm Directory on line. These include Little Brook Farm in Arundel, Funny Farm in Lebanon, and Maine Seacoast Miniatures in Cape Neddick.