If you’re considering adding a miniature horse to your menagerie, you’re probably wondering: just how much does a miniature horse cost, anyway? As with most companion animals, the price for a mini can vary quite a bit.
According to the American Miniature Horse Association, the initial purchase price of your mini can be anywhere from $1,000 – $200,000! The price varies depending on age, pedigree, conformation, and training level.
Even though miniature horses are smaller than standard-sized horses, they require many of the same monthly expenses. If you need some help navigating the cost breakdown of acquiring a miniature horse for your family, keep reading to get the nitty-gritty for your mini – and your wallet.
What is a Miniature Horse?
Miniature horses (also colloquially called minis or miniature ponies) are equines that have been selectively bred to be small – usually measuring below 34-38” at the withers when fully grown. (source) Some can be as small as 25”!
Miniature horses also have the proportions of standard-sized horses, and many can look like miniature Arabians or Quarter Horses. The Falabella is a specific breed of miniature horse that comes from Argentina. (source)
Primary Factors that Affect Miniature Horse Cost
While there are many variables that can affect the cost of owning a miniature horse, here are the most important ones to consider right off the bat:
While most people can’t ride these tiny equines, there’s still a lot that you can do with them. It can be much cheaper to find a mini if you just want a pasture puff to live in your backyard, and you’re not picky about breeding or age. However, if you want to show, breed, ride, drive, or use your mini as a therapy horse – it’s going to need appropriate training, the right temperament, and a solid pedigree or performance record. All of these factors can exponentially increase the cost of your miniature horse.
Here is a cost breakdown for some of the associated costs with each discipline, aside from the basics (food, water, vet care, farrier, shelter, etc).
|Use||Typical Associated Costs||Initial Purchase Price|
|Pet||Minimal boarding or backyard shelter, basic handling training, unknown pedigree||$0 to $5,000|
|Showing||Boarding, Training, Show fees, Transportation, Tack or Special Equipment, Pedigree registration fees or prestige, Grooming||$1,000 – $50,000+|
|Competition||Boarding, Specialized training, Show fees, Transportation, Tack/Special Equipment, Pedigree registration fees or prestige, Grooming||$5,000 – $50,000+|
|Therapy or Service||Very specialized training, Special equipment, Certifications, Costly purchase price||$7,000 – $50,000+|
Picking up a rescue or young mini with little training may be cheaper, but that lack of knowledge can cost you in the long run. Miniature horses are still horses, and need to learn how to be handled properly. Even the smallest minis can bowl you over with a big attitude!
Unless you’re experienced and willing to train your mini yourself, they’re still going to need basic groundwork to be any fun to handle. A well-trained mini is going to be more expensive than a green-broke baby, but it can save you time and aggravation. Remember though, training is always an ongoing process, and your mini may need a refresher course down the line if he gets into bad habits.
Unless you plan to do specific activities with your mini, you can cut costs by getting one without any papers. However, knowing a horse’s pedigree can be useful for keeping track of genetic health issues (such as dwarfism) and may be required for certain miniature horse shows.
There are several miniature horse registries:
- American Miniature Horse Association – Closed registry, only foals with registered parents may be registered.
- American Miniature Horse Registry – Division of the American Shetland Pony Club, “A” and “B” registration options.
- Falabella Miniature Horse Association – Specializing in Falabella miniature horses and Falabella mixes.
“Location, location, location” doesn’t only apply to real estate. Your geographical location can have a large effect on the cost of miniature horses in your area.
Finding the perfect mini can be more cost-effective if you’re in a state where miniature horse shows are popular, there’s plenty of room to keep one (or two, or a herd!). You may also have ample local miniature horse rescues to choose from.
If you’re having trouble finding a mini breeder or rescue near you, you may have to pay extra to have your horse shipped to you, or travel hundreds of miles to find one yourself. This can increase the cost exponentially.
Basic Cost of Upkeep
The initial purchase price of your mini may be one of the biggest overall costs, but minis also come with monthly expenses that can rival their standard-sized counterparts.
The AMHA provides a handy breakdown for planning monthly expenses, but circumstances will vary for each individual. (source)
- Food – Minis eat less hay than full-sized horses, and they don’t generally require grain. Average hay cost: $25/month
- Shelter – Minis can often be kept in a good-sized backyard, but make sure you have adequate shelter (and permission from your municipality). And don’t forget about the extra water and manure removal bills! You’ll also have to consider the cost of proper fencing and protection from the elements as well.
- Boarding – If you don’t have a backyard, you might have to board your mini like a standard-sized horse. Some areas require full boarding fees if your mini will be using a full-sized stall. Pasture boarding is often a cheaper option, but too much grass can cause obesity (and more costs down the line). Boarding can range from $100 – $1,500 per month.
- Farrier and Vet Care – Minis don’t usually need shoes, but they still require regular hoof trims and routine vet care.
- Extras – Halters, blankets, buckets, treats, brushes, toys. The list goes on and on. Don’t forget about all the fun extras for your mini too!
To figure out exactly how much your miniature horse could cost, this handy worksheet from Horse Illustrated can help you figure out where your biggest costs will be. (source) Keep in mind that minis will still need proper trailering to shows and competitions as well.
Where to Buy Miniature Horses
If you’ve crunched the numbers and are ready to find your mini, there are a few places you can start your search.
|Where to Find a Mini||Cost Range|
|Private Seller||$500 – $5,000+|
|Breeder||$1,500 – $20,000+|
|Rescue||$200 – $1,000|
|Auction or Feed Lot||$50 – $200|
Online or Private Seller
Average Cost: $500 for a backyard pet to $50,000+ for a decorated champion
Sites like HorseClicks.com, Equinenow.com, Facebook, and Craigslist may have listings for minis in your area.
You can also do a basic search for the discipline you’re looking for (e.g. “therapy miniature horses for sale”) to find farms that specialize in that discipline.
Average Cost: Anywhere from $1,500 for a young foal to $50,000 and up for champion breeding stock.
There are many miniature horse breeders around the country who are willing to find your perfect match. Always do your due diligence when it comes to purchasing from a breeder – ask a lot of questions and get referrals from happy customers!
The AMHA has a farm directory for miniature horse breeders, and many of them are willing to ship. However, you’ll generally need to contact them directly to inquire about specific listings.
Many breeders will also sell broodmares or retired breeding stock if you’re just looking for a pet or companion.
Average Cost: $200 – $500 for adoption fee that usually includes basic veterinary care
For a more cost-effective (and heartwarming) option for finding your mini, consider a miniature horse rescue instead. Petfinder.com, Facebook, Craigslist, and your local rescue organizations can be great resources for finding a miniature horse in need of a new home.
While there are some rescues dedicated specifically to miniature horses, many standard-sized horse rescues will also have minis available too.
Auction or Feed Lot
If you happen to live near a horse auction or feed lot where horses are bound for slaughter, you can occasionally find miniature horses there.
Because these auctions and lots operate by selling horses “per pound”, a miniature horse can go for $50 – $200. Minis are often scooped up from these places by rescues and may be in dire need of veterinary care and training.
Beware the Free Miniature Horse
While it may be tempting for your wallet to pick up a free mini, you could still end up paying thousands in hidden costs. “Free” rarely means free – do your due diligence!
Rescues often set their adoption fees fairly to cover the horse’s basic needs, and there are fewer hidden costs and vet bills down the line. A free mini will still need feed, supplements, farrier care, and a thorough veterinary check.