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Small horses equal big fun for two Taos equestrians

By Janet Elder
For The Taos News
Posted 3/20/19

Miniature horses are the fastest growing breed of horse in the United States. And they have become popular here in Taos, where some are used for fun and trail driving, while others are …

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Los animales

Small horses equal big fun for two Taos equestrians

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Miniature horses are the fastest growing breed of horse in the United States. And they have become popular here in Taos, where some are used for fun and trail driving, while others are used for show.

Two men are given credit for bringing the breed to America from the Shetland ponies of England - Smith McCoy of West Virginia and Moorman Field of Virginia. In the early 1900s, Smith McCoy bred small ponies in West Virginia to be used in the coal mines. They were called "pit ponies." McCoy found the smaller he bred them, the more of a novelty they became. People came from all over to see and purchase his little horses. Moorman Field also supplied ponies to the coal mines, and he and McCoy became friends. Field was a successful breeder for over 50 years. His herd at one time numbered over 500 horses.

Shetland ponies were popular during the 1950s and 1960s for showing and for backyard fun.Today, miniature horses have become popular with all ages and levels of horse enthusiasts. There are two breed associations for miniature horses, AMHA (American Miniature Horse Association - horses cannot exceed 34 inches measured to the last mane hair) and AMHR (American Miniature Horse Registry - cannot exceed 38 inches). There is also a separate registry for the larger Shetland ponies, ASPC (American Shetland Pony Club).

Many miniature horse owners have turned to these small horses because they can't ride anymore, can't afford a full-sized horse or just want to have fun. Showing miniature horses has become extremely popular, with shows across the U.S., Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Australia. AMHA World Championships are held in Fort Worth, Texas, in September; AMHR National Championships are held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, also in September.

Miniature horses have become popular here in Taos, where some are used for fun and trail driving, and some are used for show. Lisa Laughlin and I both raise and show them. We grew up riding ponies and horses, showing 4-H, open and quarter horse shows before adding minis to our stables. Lisa went with me to the National Championships four years ago to help out and was hooked. Lisa now owns five show minis while I have six (two are semi-retired).

We travel to AMHR breed shows, in Arizona, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma, including two shows in Albuquerque. The year 2018 was a great one for both of us. Lisa's stallion Tru Luvs Taylor Made (Taylor) was thee times National Champion in Western driving classes and Reserve Stakes Champion. He also was thee-time All Star Champion based on year-end points. Her gelding HCM Bucks Fast Trac (Tracker) was National Champion draft halter horse in 2017 and has a Hall of Fame award.

In 2018, my horse Designer Firing Line (Foxy) was Reserve National Champion Western Country Pleasure Driving Gelding, and three-time Reserve All Stars Champion. Designer Super's Private Investor (Snip) was Reserve National Champion Costume, and Strasslein Mardi Gras All About Jazz (Jazzy) was thee-time All Star Champion. Jazzy and I won high-point amateur at all six shows we attended in 2018 other than Nationals, and was named Performance Horse of the Year. She also has her Hall of Fame Award in Country Pleasure Driving.

Lisa and I both have other mini horses on their show strings as well, and all are back in training for the 2019 show season. They work with trainers - traveling to them, and bringing some to Taos for private clinics. They use horse trailers with mini-size partitions to haul them to the shows. They compete in a variety of classes including conformation halter, driving, jumping, obstacles and showmanship, both amateur and open.

The show season for us runs from mid-March to the end of October, and we usually attend one show a month. We are active members of the Land of Enchantment Miniature Horse Club, which sponsors a three-day show in Albuquerque the first weekend in May. The other Albuquerque show is in late June sponsored by the Pinto Horse Club of New Mexico.

It is shaping up to be a fun and busy year for us and our little horses.

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