The American Miniature Horse Association, which keeps track of most of the minis in the world, began in 1978. But long before that, many people in different countries were trying to create tiny horses. They used a variety of sources for breeding. Small horses and ponies had been used to work in coal mines in England and Holland.
Some of these were brought to the United States in the nineteenth century. They were used in coal mines in the southern states as recently as 1950. The tunnels in mines are small, and full-sized horses were too big to enter them.
Small horses had also been pets of European royalty. Breeders of the American Miniature Horse have imported minis from Holland, West Germany, Belgium, and England for breeding. In Brazil, the Falabella family bred small horses by crossing Thoroughbreds with Shetland ponies. All these varieties – small horses, European minis, ponies, and Falabella horses – went into the breeding of the American Miniature Horse.
After the American Miniature Horse Association was started, breeding of minis became more organized. The association began keeping records of the progress of the breed. breeders joined the association and sent in information about their horses. When a new foal was born, it had to be “registered” with the association to be called an American Miniature Horse. That meant filling out forms giving the important facts about the foal – who its parents were, when it was born, what color it was. Only horses that stayed small – no more than 34 inches by the time they were five years old – were allowed to be called miniatures.
At first, any horse small enough could be registered as a miniature horse. But as more and more minis looked better and better, things changed. The association altered its rules so that now only horses with registered parents can be registered themselves. There is only one exception to this rule. A horse at least five years old that is no taller than 34 inches can be registered if the owners are willing to pay a special fee.
The American Miniature Horse has become a true breed, a special new kind of horse. Minis are popular in many countries in addition to the United States – Canada, England, Holland, Japan, Australia, and several South American countries especially.

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