I am looking into getting a companion animal for my older Arabian who lives alone. Do miniature horses make good companion animals? Also, would it be safe to turn the mini and the Arab out in the pasture together because of their size difference (the Arab is about 14 hh)? Thanks in advance!
I have a mini as a companion for my other horses and they get along fine; my mini is a 22 year old ex-broodmare so she doesn't cause any trouble, and she is smart enough to avoid chaos if it starts (e.g. if the big horses get running she will stay out of the way, or at least run along far behind them). Temperament can be a factor, but if you get an older companion for an older horse it will probably be fine. My vet said that often the mini can be just as much of a bully as a larger horse, so you want to remember that when choosing one.
The biggest danger with putting them on pasture together is the pasture part, not the size issue (in my opinion, and I know many people do not think they are safe turned out together). My could not go out 12 hours overnight with the bigger horses because it's just too much grass. So it depends on your definition of "pasture".
(Because then you need a companion for your companion, and then when they don't like each other you need to reorganize the herd...so my herd has more "drylot" friends than pasture friends now.... argh!)
While not officially a mini, I once got a very small Shetland/mini ish pony (probably 10 hh)as a companion for a middle aged wb mare. Although she was the alpha mare type he wasted no time telling her he would not be bullied; she trotted over to tell him she would be in charge and he responded with the loudest screaming whinny I have ever heard come out of a horse and a volley of double barrelled kicks that quickly established him as no push over. They had an understanding that evolved into friendship and I had no concern for his safety.
However, he had to spend the summer in a grazing muzzle as he had a history of founder. He hated it and we went through several as he was very ingenious about destroying them. I had to seperate them to feed grain as he tried and usually succeeded in eating hers if they were fed together.
IMO the biggest issue with mini as companion would be limiting the access to pasture.
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I only have one riding horse and the two miniatures. They are his companions & herd, but I also drive them. I would be very careful about turning a mini out with just any horse, or a herd of horses. One kick is all it would take to badly injure or even kill one. Mine do go out with my one horse, but he has never been aggressive, but still a risk. There is also the fact that miniature are generally very easy keeps and just founder cases waiting to happen. Mine are either stalled or dry lot at night, and wear grazing muzzles when out on pasture during the day.
My 16.2 hand gelding had an older mini for a companion and absolutely loved him! So i think a 14h horse would be fine. They make great buddies and i agree you do need fencing that can keep them in and need to be careful about too much grass access.
Snort is currently keeping company with a tiny Shetland pony, not quite a mini. As long as they get on well and the fences are tight - Andy pony can squeeze his portly little tummy through a door I can just get through sideways - things should be fine.
My gentle mare gets on fine with her mini companion. (Perhaps not a very good idea with an aggressive horse). Mine live out, hair to hair, with access to their bedded stalls - but there is a stall guard on the mini's where he can run under if things get a bit much for him, and he can eat his hay in peace.
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Not all horses are safe to have a mini as a companion. Some horses can be very mean and aggressive with them. And one kick to the head can severely injure them or kill them. I've seen otherwise calm horses who would not tolerate a mini. I think a large goat is a safer choice but then some horses do not like goats either.
We had a horse boarding at our barn that was not ok when horses were taken out of his paddock during the day, even for an hour or so. When we got a mini, all of it ended. He is completely satisfied as long as the mini is with him.
I've had a mini for about 7 years and he's gotten along fine with every big horse I've put him with, with the exception of one horse who had been alone and was very aggressive. I think it just depends on the personality of the horses. Our mini is totally nonchalant, so he's not seen as a threat at all.
I've enjoyed having him, he's easy, he isn't a real founder-obesity prone guy, so I don't have to be as concerned about the grass, he is actually more of a normal keeper, so the grass is great for him.
It always depends on the horse...some of them LOVE ponies and others not so much. One of our TurboFriesians, who is 16.3 and can push his weight around when turned out with other full-sized horses, is TOTALLY cowed and bullied by the mini-herd. They are not averse to double-barrelling him, chasing him, etc. Since he is an air fern, the mini's netted, rationed hay works well for him. He appears in this collection of clips and outtakes that I threw together of the ponies... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRitKd4D404