Miniature horses have extraordinary memories, are intelligent and very friendly. They now train miniature horses as Guide Horses for the visually impaired and blind, and as assistance animals for the handicapped. Some of the many reasons miniature horses make excellent Guide Animals include having a longer lifespan than Seeing-Eye dogs. Eight to twelve years are the average guide dogs working lifespan while miniature horses live anywhere from thirty to fifty or more years. They are an excellent alternative for people that are afraid of dogs, have a dog phobia, or are allergic to dogs.
In the seventeenth century, breeders raised miniature horses as pampered companions and pets for Europe's Hapsburg nobility, queens, and kings. Circa sixteen fifty, French court records of King Louis XIV indicate tiny miniature horses among the king's exotic zoo creatures. By seventeen sixty-five, there were articles and paintings featuring miniatures horses.
According to the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records, Burleson Arabians in North Carolina own the world's smallest miniature horse, named Black Beauty. Born on June 6, 1996, Black Beauty was a beautiful dwarf miniature horse that weighted less than ten pounds and stood fewer than twelve inches in height at birth. Full grown, Black Beauty stands eighteen point five inches tall, taking the world's smallest horse record from a black twenty-one inch high horse named Hope. She enjoys eating popcorn and television watching with her owners.
One of the world's most beloved and fastest growing equine breeds is the American miniature horse, which stands thirty-eight inches or less at the withers.
Miniature horses live one-third longer on average than large breeds of horse, which is similar to dog breeds size-longevity relationships. An example of this is that the average lifespan for a Saint Bernard is from eight to ten years while the average lifespan of a Chihuahua is sixteen to eighteen years or older. The Horse Protection Society of North Carolina was home to Angel, who was over fifty years of age and the oldest known dwarf miniature horse on record.
In America, the smallest breeding stallion in miniature horses was Bond Tiny Tim, according to the AMHA or American Miniature Horse Association. Foaled in 1970, Bond Tiny Tim was only nineteen inches tall.
In Northern Europe, the English Midlands, and in Wales during the nineteenth century, people used miniature horses as work and pit ponies in coalmines until the nineteen fifties.
In 2006, according to the Guinness World Records, Thumbelina is the world's smallest horse at approximately seventeen inches tall at five years of age. Weighing eight pounds at birth, this dwarf miniature horse now weights sixty pounds, unlike the average, miniature show horses that normally stand less than thirty-four inches high and weigh approximately two hundred and fifty pounds fully grown.
Scout, a miniature horse with piercing blue eyes, high intelligence and exceptional guiding skills has been on television in an ER episode and in a commercial for Ebay.