Australian Miniature Ponies

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Breed: Australian Miniature Pony
Temperament: calm and gentle
$500 – $3000
up to 30 years
Recommended for:
young beginners, miniature enthusiasts


All miniature pony breeds can be traced back to Shetland pony origins, crossed with a variety of other pony breeds. The Australian Miniature Pony was established as a result of crosses with small Shetland ponies and an Argentinean miniature pony, the Fallabella. The Fallabella is more fine-boned and leggy than other miniature pony breeds, giving it a slimmer, more horse-like appearance. Several other miniature breeds also contributed to the Australian Miniature. The Australian Miniature Pony became a recognised breed in 1974. There are now over 1200 members of the Australian Miniature Pony Society Australia wide, with delegates in each state.


The height of the Australian Miniature Pony is measured in centimetres rather than hands or inches, which is more common with other miniature and full-sized horse and pony breeds. These measurements are made from the highest point of the wither (behind the shoulders), rather than from the last hair of the mane, as with other miniature horse and pony breeds.

The appearance of the miniature pony is best described as halfway between a miniature horse, with its fine conformation, and a Shetland. The Australian Miniature Pony has a reasonably robust conformation but is not as thick-set as the Shetland.

Miniature Ponies have a maximum height of 87cm and should look well proportioned. Ideally the animal will simply look like a pony in miniature. The neck will be shorter, the legs in proportion, with wellsprung, or wide, barrel shaped ribs. Mares are more feminine and refined in conformation and the stallions should have a crested, or thick-set neck.

For breeding purposes, just one parent needs to be registered as a miniature pony. A foal’s size and breeding is recorded at birth then recorded between two and four years old to primarily determine height and soundness, particulary dental conformation. Undershot and overshot jaws are not permitted. Nor are ponies above 87cm. Any colour is acceptable.


Bred to be a calm pony, suitable for saddle and harness. As with many ponies and horses, temperament can be affected by handling. Poorly handled ponies will become surly and sour. Stallions do have the potential to become more ‘bullish’ and overbearing during the breeding season, usually around Spring and Summer.


Feeding routines are similar to an ordinary pony but must be scaled down in proportion. Miniature ponies are notoriously ‘good doers’ and as with other ponies, concentrated diets and excessive grazing on lush pastures must be limited. Founder, a serious condition leading to chronic lameness, is too common in ponies fed excessive concentrates or allowed to over-graze on lush grass. Good quality pasture plus lucerne hay is generally sufficient to maintain a pony in light work. Calcium and phosphorous supplementation is also often required depending on the quality of the hay.

Health and maintenance

The main problem associated with miniaturisation is overcrowding of the mouth. Despite creating a smaller pony, the teeth remain the same size, causing dental problems including undershot or overshot jaw and overcrowding.

Those ponies with an upright, or excessively straight, conformation of the legs may also be predisposed to conditions such as navicular disease (a disease of a small bone in the foot) and locking kneecaps (causing the hind leg to become intermittently ‘fixed’ in an extended position).

Small mares may also have birth problems as the birth canal may be too narrow for the foal to pass through easily. If breeding Miniature Ponies, have a good relationship with your local horse vet.

Small ponies left to run with larger ponies or horses are also prone to injuries from kicking and trampling. Some larger breeds may not readily accept the smaller types.

Other health issues relate to those most common in horse breeds. Feet require regular trimming, teeth should be routinely rasped and a worming program maintained. A regular brush, particularly before harnessing or saddling up is also required.

Cost and lifespan

This varies with size and breeding. A pet will range from $500 – $800 and a show quality pony can cost between $2500 – $3000.

No type of horse is a short term investment. Healthy, well maintained ponies can easily average a life up to early 20s, even reaching 30 years of age.

Uses and space

Ideal as a child’s first pony and often used in nursing home visits for disabled and elderly therapy. Particulary suited to harness work.

These Australian Miniature Ponies can easily be kept in a suburban backyard, with council approval. However this is not ideal as daily exercise is required. It is preferable to keep the ponies in a small paddock or somewhere where they will have regular access to a suitably fenced, small paddock or yard. Shelter and an ad-lib supply of water is required.

Recommended for

A child’s first pony or people interested in owning ponies but are limited by space. But remember that all horses are relatively high maintenance animals, the miniature pony no less so.

Further information

We filmed this segment with members of the Australian Miniature Pony Society Inc. For details of breeders in your State, contact Club President, John Forsyth (03) 5628 1453.