View Full Version : Feeding the miniature horse — help?

Mar. 24, 2009, 03:41 PM
I'm trying to get some help for a friend. He has a small herd of miniature horses and is not happy with his current feeding program. He has them in good-sized paddocks with limited grass, and he's been feeding soaked beet pulp, a little brome hay and small amounts of a cheap 10% pellet. He lives in a pretty rural area, so his feed choices are basically limited to Purina and Nutrena.

Currently he is noticing a tendency toward "chunkiness" when they are all given hay/grass, and he would like to see less of the pot-bellied look and more lean muscle. I am hesitant to give specific recommendations because I don't have firsthand experience feeding minis. He has a yearling colt, a two-year-old colt and two older broodmares. I *think* both colts are the smaller (Section A?) minis, and the broodies are the bigger ones. (I'm showing my ignorance here, I'm sure!)

He also bought two young (~3yo?) mini mares a few months ago; both were in *very* poor condition and were malnourished. I think these are the smaller minis, but I'm not sure. He has gotten both to put some weight on, but they are not thriving, and one is still having bouts of diarrhea, though that has improved significantly. His large animal vet deals mostly with livestock, not horses, and hasn't been very helpful. They have been dewormed, but I am not sure with what.

I know more info would be helpful, but that's all I have right now.

Thanks for your help.

Mar. 24, 2009, 03:53 PM
I can tell you what I do with mine, but it might give some people heart failure... He looks good, though, like a miniature horse, not a barrel on legs, and he certainly feels pretty peppy. He's quite big for a mini at 37".

He gets about a cupful of Purina Complete Advantage in the mornings, plus a thin flake of grasss hay that he ignores. After everyone has finished breakfast, he goes out and hoovers up what whisps of the big boys alfalfa they allow him near--this doesn't amount to much by the time he gets turned out. He spends his days running around on my several acres of hillside (currently covered in deep snow) annoying the two big horses, which keeps them all on their toes. In the evenings, he comes into his own dry lot and gets about 6 tablespoonsful of soaked beetpulp and a thin flake of grass hay that he eats overnight.

He's wormed, trimmed, vet visited on the same schedule and the big horses.

His summer menu will probably lose the evening beet pulp component. In the depths of winter, I add a little ricebran to his beet pulp.

I think a little more protein might help your friend's horses. The Complete Advantage offers that quite adequately.

Mar. 24, 2009, 04:16 PM
The link below is to a wonderful Miniature Horse forum where the users love to help other minis owners. Lots of good info on it, especially on feeding.

I have two two-year old mini geldings. Have had them one year. One is 32 inches; the other 36 inches. They get lots of exercise and are both good weight, not at all chunky.

They get a total of three pounds of orchard grass hay am and pm (they share a stall/paddock). At night they each get one cup of TC Lite and a 1/2 cup of flat rolled steamed oats.

Their paddock is a dry lot (they have eaten every weed that was ever on it) and they go out for two hours (max) to a field with grass.

That's my feeding program and it works, for me, so far.

I have them on the same worming/vaccination schedule as my big horses.

While minis are "real" horses, they also have some unique issues that big horses don't have so I urge you to urge your friend to look at the mini horse forum. Lots to learn!


Mar. 24, 2009, 04:29 PM
We have had our miniature horses for years (since 1993) and have fed a variety of diets during that time.

We are currently feeding 1/2 flake Canadian grass hay, 2 cups shredded plain beet pulp mixed with 1 cup whole oats, Accel multivitamin, MSM and weight builder (for skin and coat, not weight gain;)). The BP/oat/supplement mixture is soaked before feeding. This is the AM ration.

In the PM, instead of the Canadian hay, they get 2lbs of Dengie Hi Fi Gold chopped forage plus the BP/oat/vitamin mixture.

The gelding is in his mid 20's and in good shape, not too fat, not too thin. The mare is going to be 16 in May and is coming out of the winter a little....padded....but she is a carriage driving horse, so I expect her to trim down as the working season begins.

The best way to keep a mini in show shape (besides a balanced diet) is exercise! :)

I second the lilbeginnings website....great place to learn everything there is to know about minis! :)

Mar. 24, 2009, 05:01 PM
Gro N Win...its formulated for mini's too. They wouldn't need any other supplementation. Just grass hay and pasture (limited). Low cal so less "chunkiness" but supplies good quality protein to build muscle...lysine, methionine, threonine, etc.

Mar. 24, 2009, 07:22 PM
ljc, I don't know what the calcium/phosphorus ratio is in TC Lite but I'm assuming it has some grains in it and grains are way high in phos. Orchard has an inverted calc/phos ratio and oats are really inverted. I would change something in that diet to add more calcium to fix that ratio, preferably the hay since orchard is high in sugar. Minis also don't need grain.

meaty ogre
Mar. 24, 2009, 11:40 PM
Hey ATR, I bet I can give them total heart failure! I feed my mini straight alfalfa.

I think the challenges with minis are that you need to get a complete nutritional profile stripped of the excess starches and calories since they just don't need it. So many people sacrifice the protein in doing that. Protein drives the digestive process and without sufficient amino acids your horse is going to look bad (bloated belly, lackluster topline is usually what you see).

A ration balancer is probably the best product because it is basically concentrated nutrition without the excess stuff. However I don't like feeding any grain by-products. My mini is doing great right now on alfalfa and fenugreek (source of lysine and lots of minerals/vits, and also proven to regulate insulin use/glucose digestion for optimum blood sugar levels, and it's cheap). She is 38 and has had all but 5 molars lost or removed, so she does quid hay. If she didn't I would feed a grass hay but since she's only getting a portion of what I feed her, I do alfalfa. I had her tested in the fall for cushings but her blood pulls came back great.

Lilbeginnings is a great website. I love my mini. She is tough as nails. I expect her to live to 100 (vet thinks 50 easy).

Mar. 25, 2009, 12:23 AM
:) MO :)

I think a lot of the odder-looking minis in this world are the result of well intentioned semi-starvation.

You do have to control what they eat, as they really don't seem to have an off-button, but it does need to be decent protein--they are busy little souls!

(Oh, and this thread is entirely worthless without pictures. Shall I start?)


meaty ogre
Mar. 25, 2009, 12:46 AM
Oh, a polka dotted mini. My toddler will want!


Peanut is the best neurotic-TB babysitter in the world. She is his security blanket I think. I love the way she looks like a chia pet when her winter coat is in.

Mar. 25, 2009, 02:08 AM
My mini is very sensitive to worms, I've found she needs to be on a very strict deworming regime to keep her healthy.

Mar. 25, 2009, 02:10 AM
Oh, a polka dotted mini. My toddler will want!


Peanut is the best neurotic-TB babysitter in the world. She is his security blanket I think. I love the way she looks like a chia pet when her winter coat is in.

That's adorable- I think my mini's goal in life is to slowly make my warmblood more neurotic- she's a natzi underneath her cute looks and three inches of winter fuzz!

Murphy's Mom
Mar. 25, 2009, 04:45 PM
My Mocha gets grass hay, alfalfa, a cup or so low carb grain (will have to change since the only feed store selling it just went out of business, will probably move to straight oats), flax, BOSS, and a small amount of beet pulp (a cup or so). She was very skinny and possibly pregnant when I got her last fall so I've been feeding her a lot. Now I'm sure she isn't preggers (she was teasing to Murphy last weekend) so I guess that little belly is too much food!


Mar. 25, 2009, 11:57 PM
My oldster is regularlly treated for sand....huge problem for the mini yard vacs.

He is 30+ years so gets 1lb equine senior and a little alfalfa. Right now he is on pasture grass and monitored daily.

His teeth are non existent and my dentist sees him regularly (another issue for minis).....but he looks fabulous!