Who would have thought the fiercest equine creature of Instagram packs all her punch in a two-foot-tall body?
What Peeps the mini horse lacks in height she more than makes up for in sass—Peeps became an Insta-sensation as the face of the Peeps Foundation, a nonprofit miniature horse rescue founded by grand prix rider Alex Granato and fellow Mad Season, LLC rider Josh Dolan.
Granato and Dolan first spotted Peeps in a field with more than 50 neglected miniature horses in Lexington, Ky., back in 2014. “We left a note on the gate and went back later that day and bought 19 of them, and then we went back a few days later and bought some more,” Granato said. “Now it’s really evolved into what it is now—we’re a full 501c3 and we get them from all over, from auctions, from people who got them at auctions and don’t know how to care for them, from kill sales.” (Read more about Peeps and Granato and Dolan’s evolution into mini-saviors in “From Rescue To Mascot, Peeps Is The Life Of The Party.”)
Peeps is a dwarf mini, so she is especially small and was just two weeks old when Granato and Dolan found her in the field. “She looked like a little marshmallow puff, so we named her Peeps,” Granato said. They decided to keep Peeps as the mascot and namesake of the rescue’s foundation. “She stood out, she was so cute. She was a tiny little foal.”
Under the Instagram handle @mylittlepeepers, the little mare has gathered quite an online following. From her first post in February of 2015, she’s accumulated more than 15,000 followers, and since all the minis at the foundation travel with Granato’s show horses back and forth from Wellington, Fla., and Lexington, Ky., Peeps has made appearances at Nations Cups and grand prix classes at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.) and even spent a morning hanging outside a Lexington Starbucks.
“People lost their minds over it,” Dolan said of the Starbucks stunt. “My older brother stood outside with her while we went in, and he doesn’t know one thing about animals and I’m sure he was getting the craziest questions.”
Peep’s Instafamous-ness is all about promoting the rescue of her fellow mini brethren—come with us behind our tiniest stall door yet to meet the fabulous Peepers!
• First things first—wherever did the Peeps get that fabulous hot pink hair from? “I think we were going to the ring one day and I just said wouldn’t it be cool if we dyed her hair,” said Jenn Stirbl of Mad Season LLC. “At first it was just a little streak but now it’s her trademark.”
No salon is needed for this DIY diva—the Mad Season team dyes her locks right in the wash stall! “If you want it to look good it needs to be about every three weeks,” Dolan said. “Sometimes we let her go a little natural for a while, but then someone will come and look at the minis and they’re like, ‘Where is Peeps?’ We say, ‘Oh you’re petting her,’ and they say, ‘Oh, this isn’t her.’ And we go, OK, I guess we need to dye her hair again!”
• Granato’s business is called Mad Season LLC, but it got an adorable spin for Peeps personal stall guard.
• Along with her rocking pink hair, Peeps has a number of different outfits she can sport for different occasions. “She has sheets Horseware made for her, she had a little bonnet from De La Couer,” Granato said.
Along with Peep’s purely decorative wardrobe, the foundation also collects mini turn-out rugs. “Horseware has probably sent us 200 different blankets that we then send out to people who need them for their minis,” Granato said.
• Granato and his team don’t need true winter blankets for their minis because these little guys and gals live the life of luxurious show horses—they travel to Wellington, Fla., for the winter.
“They get to go in the big eight-horse trailer together because there are so many of them,” Dolan said. “When we go through the [Florida] ag center there is not one time the police don’t come out and take pictures.”
• One of the biggest projects the team undertakes with Peeps and her pals in Florida is trying to keep their coats under control. “Their coats are just unbelievable, they grow coats to survive the Artic,” Dolan said. “Florida is very difficult because we have to clip them so much, about every two weeks. We try and get volunteers when they come to clip, but you have to bathe them and let them dry and then they’re locked up in the stall and they get wild—it’s a production.”
• Peeps and the minis spend either all day or all night turned out, and as expected Peeps rules the roost (but she’s a benevolent dictator).
“She’s funny, she’s the first one to greet new rescues, always, and she’s nice to them but it’s also a little like, ‘Hi, I’m Peeps, I run this place,’ ” Dolan laughed.
• Peeps has really leaned into the fame brought by her rags to riches story—maybe too much.
“Peeps is very sassy. It’s all about her. It can be difficult to do a lot of functions and taking her places because she is so sassy,” Granato said. “If she were a celebrity, she’d probably be like Mariah Carey, very diva, very whatever she wants. She gets her way.”
• Peeps has got some hops on her! She has a jump with her name on it (of course) that she pops over in-hand with lots of encouragement.Given her conformation, the team isn’t quite sure she’s “sporthorse bred.”
•“We get asked a lot if she’s pregnant,” Granato said with a laugh. “Because she’s a dwarf mini, their bodies and their limbs can be small but all their organs are the same size as a normal mini, which is why you get the distension in their bellies and the short necks.”
The team does have a good guess as to her lineage! “We actually rescued her mom. We called her WB, and we think her dad was Roanie,” Granato said. “Roanie we gelded and now he lives with Mad Season and Gangsta, my retired grand prix horses.”
• Want a chance to meet Peeps yourself? The foundation is always looking for volunteers to help out on the farms in Lexington and Wellington with the minis! You could even adopt one of her pals and start your own Instagram, but bear in mind it will be hard to bet the fabulous Peeps.
“Peeps is the original,” Granato said with a smile.