From: Ocala StarBanner
By: Carlos E. Medina
Miniature horses are more than just a novelty. To those who love them, they are a passion.
In horse-centric Marion County, the miniature versions are just one of many equine breeds. The little horses are versatile and can be anything from a pet to a finely-tuned athlete.
“They can do it all: cart driving, halter, hunter jumping and showmanship,” said Justin Rutledge of Candyland Miniature Horses of Ocala.
Candyland breeds between 15 to 20 miniatures every year. Rutledge trains them and then takes them to shows across the country, where their performances contribute to their sale price.
Some of the best miniature horses can command prices up to $300,000, though minis can be had for about $1,500. A typical show-quality miniature can cost around $5,000.
And don’t call them ponies, even if they look like one.
The miniature breed is a little complicated.
There are two major breed registries in the United States and both are based on height. The American Miniature Horse Association accepts horses that measure fewer than 34 inches at the withers — the area between the shoulder blades and typically the highest point on the animal’s body. The American Miniature Horse Registry accepts horses up to 38 inches tall at the withers.
“Color means nothing. It’s all about the height,” Rutledge said.