Miniature Horses and Donkeys Health Care

April 17, 2006 (published)

Miniature horses and miniature donkeys have become very popular as pets and show horses. Health care of these little equines is basically the same as full-sized horses with a few differences. Miniatures can develop a serious parasite problem as they are usually kept in a small area that encourages concentration of parasites and increases exposure. The same nematodes and tapeworms affect miniatures as standard size horses and the same dewormers are effective. The main problem I see with miniatures is that many owners do not estimate their weights correctly and sometimes under or over dose these horses. Your veterinarian can give you a fairly accurate estimate of weight and many small animal clinics have a walk on scale that can accurately weigh these horses. Weighing just one animal will give you a good basis for weights of the entire herd.

Miniatures are vaccinated with the same vaccines as standard size horses and the same dosages are used. Some people will consider giving smaller doses of vaccine to these smaller horses, but this should be avoided as there is no evidence smaller doses are protective. However, in really small minis and foals, we will break up vaccines and not give them all at one time. As far as nutrition goes, Dr. Stephen Purdy indicates the most common problem noted is overfeeding, which leads to obesity. Obesity in turn leads to infertility, problems foaling, and founder. Also, miniature horses and donkeys are very susceptible to a deadly condition called hyperlipemia that is related to obesity. Be sure and consult with your veterinarian for their recommendation on nutrition in these little horses and donkeys.

VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email

Information and opinions expressed in letters to the editor are those of the author and are independent of the VIN News Service. Letters may be edited for style. We do not verify their content for accuracy.