Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Brush Your Horse's Teeth?
We Sure Do Try!
Dental issues are a real concern for minis, for several reasons. Horses chew in a circle-8 pattern, and the wear over time from chewing may cause edges to have sharp spots, making it painful for them to eat. This could lead to them swallowing without chewing, causing them to choke. Because minis have a small esophagus, this is a real concern.
Once a year a veterinarian will "float" their teeth, which is to file them. The horses are sedated, and because horses can "lock" their stifle while standing, they stay standing and don't fall once the sedative is fully recognized.
We are so appreciative our veterinarian always explains everything to us with any care he gives the minis (see the video of our veterinarian's explanation during the procedure).
Do Horses Lose Their Teeth Like Humans when They are Young?
Guess What Charm Wanted for Christmas!
AND CHECK OUT THOSE WHISKERS!!!
Whiskers are the sensory hairs with their own nerve and blood supply and help horses navigate their surroundings.
In July 2021, trimming horse whiskers was internationally banned. Any competitor in shows is now disqualified and may not participate in any way.
Foals are born with short milk teeth, which eventually will be replaced with permanent teeth around the age of two to three years old.
Permanent teeth should be completely grown in by the age of five.
When Sweetie came to us as a rescue, we were told she was a nine-month-old foal. When the vet examined her, he told us she was two to three years old. He could tell by her teeth. Yes, she was that undernourished and tiny.
Do Horses Sleep Lying Down?
Yes, they do. But not for long. And even in REM sleep they awaken quickly if they hear something. No doubt, every environment offers a different type of sleep for horses. But to be healthy, a horse needs two to three hours of REM sleep a day, and they never have that all at one time.
It is usually at night in a safe covered environment that Charm, the Lead Mare, will fall into REM sleep. We say REM because we have actually observed what we believed to be her dream when she was asleep in the house, in a safe environment. But the minute we approached to take the photo, she opened her eyes, as you can see in the photo.
During the day, we have never observed REM sleep, only resting. With Charm, it is usually vertical resting. Sweetie will usually lie down for resting. Jagger will lie down and have REM sleep during the day. And when they are deeply resting, there is always one left standing or on watch, and that is usually Charm, the Lead Mare. The only time we have ever seen Sweetie on watch was when she was alone with Jagger. She was not vertically resting, she was lying down with her head up.
Horses have the ability to lock their joints in their limbs, and their stifle, so if they want to nod off into a light vertical rest, they can. All this being said, our foal, Jagger, does sleep in REM more than Charm or Sweetie. And we've never seen him on watch yet.
They also stretch when they are lying down or standing up. You can see by the moved bedding how Charm stretched. We have seen her stretch like a cat when she is getting up. We have also seen her stretch with one back leg stretched out straight behind her while standing.
Can a Horse be Potty Trained?
YES! They can be taught to potty on command.
But you can imagine our chagrin when we walked into the corral and saw Charm relaxing in her potty box!
What is the Life Expectancy of a Mini Horse?
Mini Hoses have a Life expectancy of 25 to 35 years. We've read that is 1/3 longer than full-size horses. Last week I met a full-size horse that was thought to be 40. Just like humans, it depends on their health and quality of life.
Large Personalities in Small Bodies
Parasites and Respiratory Concerns
Deworming for parasites is important, not only for colic concerns but also for respiratory concerns. Parasites live in internal organs, body cavities, and tissues.
So much to be aware of to keep the mini horses healthy
A horse can die from colic, and we have read there are many causes. A common cause is related to an obstruction of the large intestine. Colic is an unbearable abdominal pain for a horse. Dental problems can cause colic because, if the horse can’t chew their food properly, they tend to swallow the food without chewing, causing them to have undigested food material in their intestine.
Colic could be a blockage, a spasm in the colon, gas building up, or a twisting of the intestine. Even a change in food can cause an immediate intestinal problem. Parasites can cause colic. Eating too much food at one time can cause intestinal problems. Digesting sand can cause colic.
We keep a watchful eye when mucking for changes in their manure: Little or no passing of manure; fecal balls are smaller than usual; slime over the fecal balls, or they are rock hard and not moist.
We also watch for eating or drinking behavior changes.
Other signs of colic are if they are lethargy, frequently looking at their side or biting or kicking their abdomen; repeatedly lying down, and getting up. Yawning. Pawing. Rolling around violently. It is a horrible yet common cause of death in horses.
Lumps, Bumps, Cysts, and Biopsies
Just like all humans and animals, there is always the concern of a lump growing quickly. The scar on Charm's side is a biopsy scar.
With all of the poking and prodding Charm had since she was a foal, she still adores Dr. Nelson, her vet, since she was six months old.
Every six weeks we have a farrier trim their hooves. Minis do not wear shoes like full-size horses, but just like the full-size horses, they can get what is called thrush, which is caused by standing in soiled bedding or mud or wet pastures. Prevention to thrush is to pick their hooves daily and keep a watchful eye every time their hooves are picked.
Owning a Horse of Any Size is a True Commitment!
Most important for mini therapy horses is a healthy diet, companionship, a lot of exercise, and a lot of mental stimulation with many different scenarios out in the community as we can offer them
Obesity for Miniature Horses
Because we can't ride a mini horse down a trail for exercise like full-size horses, we have to try our best to give our mini horses the exercise they need, along with a healthy diet. We don't even have grass for them, as it has too much sugar. Because miniature horses have short legs, they do not have the circulation full-size horses do, which could cause diabetic-type problems.