Just like people, horses come in many different shapes and sizes. Depending on what you’re looking for in a horse, you might be contemplating one of the many small horse breeds on offer.
Some of these petite ponies make for excellent starter horses for children, while others thrive as service animals. In this article, we’ll be looking at the best small horse breeds and their unique characteristics and temperaments.
Keep reading to learn more about these small horse breeds.
We’ll start with one of the smallest horse breeds going, the Falabella. This small breed will grow up to a maximum height of 8.5 hands, or 34 inches. At their smallest, they can be as little as 6.25 hands or 25 inches.
The Falabella originates from Argentina. Their name comes from the first horse registered by Julio Falabella in 1940.
This breed is very docile and gentle. Despite their small stature, they’re quite hardy by nature. This makes them an excellent choice for children who want a driving horse to learn on.
The price of a Falabella ranges from $1500 up to $12,000 depending on the breeding and color. A healthy Falabella will live between 40 to 45 years. This is much longer than the average horse lifespan of 30 years, so you’ll also need to factor this into your costs!
Ask anyone who owns a Shetland pony and they’ll tell you it’s one of the best horse breeds around. This small horse is full of character, which will either make you laugh or leave you tearing your hair out!
These ponies are famed for their stubbornness. So for some younger, inexperienced riders, they aren’t the ideal starter horse.
Shetland ponies originated from the Shetland Islands in Scotland. Because of this habitat, they’re a very hardy small breed.
Their appearance is stocky. They have thick muscular necks and chunky bodies. The average horse size for this breed is a maximum of 10 hands (40 inches).
A Shetland pony costs anywhere from $500 up to $2,000 and will live around 25 years.
If the name didn’t give it away, miniature horses are a very small horse breed. At their tallest, they’ll grow up to 9.5 hands (38 inches).
This small breed holds the current Guinness world record for the smallest horse in the world. The aptly named, Thumbelina, is a tiny 17.5 inches tall as she was born with a rare form of Dwarfism.
Miniature horses are an excellent choice for small children learning to ride. They’re very fun-loving and easy to handle. Because of its small size, this horse is not suitable for older children.
Like Shetland ponies, this breed will live around 25 years. However, Miniature horses are notorious for having dental issues due to their small jaw size. So you’ll need to be prepared to take care of this and the costs surrounding it if you want to own one.
Because of how difficult they are to breed, Miniature horses can cost quite a lot to buy. You can expect to pay anything from $2,000 up to $50,000 for a Miniature show horse.
The Noma pony is a critically endangered horse breed. They come from Shikoku Island in Japan and remain very rare both in their homeland and abroad. During World War II, this horse carried heavy loads.
They’re a little larger than some other small horse breeds as they can grow up to 10 hands or 40 inches. A healthy Noma pony will live more than 20 years.
Despite how rare they are, the Noma pony makes an excellent choice for a first-time horse for children. They have a calm temperament and are great to handle.
It’s difficult to estimate how much a Noma pony may cost because of its rarity. There is now a preservation group dedicated to promoting this breed.
Class B Kentucky Mountain Horse
This small horse is an excellent choice for children as well as beginner riders. The breed is quiet, calm, and gentle.
As the name suggests, this horse breed hails from Kentucky USA. They’re a little taller than other small horse breeds. They stand at anywhere between 11 to 14.5 hands.
Though they come in solid colors, they have beautiful white markings on their stomach, face, and socks.
Thanks to their rugged habitat, this breed is robust. They’re great for both long hacks and driving. A healthy Class B Kentucky Mountain horse will live up to 30 years.
They’re also a very affordable small horse breed, starting at around $1000. This said a high-end breed could cost up to $10,000.
The Yonaguni Horse is another breed hailing from Japan and like the Noma Pony, very rare. They grow up to 11.75 hands (47 inches) in height.
They live in a semi-wild environment in Japan and it’s estimated less than 150 of the breed exist. Because of their rarity, little is known about the breed. It is not known how long their average lifespan is and it is not known how the breed came to be.
What we do know is, despite their wild environment, this small breed loves people! They have a very friendly personality and enjoy spending time with their owners.
Heading over to another part of Asia, the Guoxia horse breed hails from South China. Because of their excellent temperament, they’ve become a popular horse worldwide.
Guoxia horses will grow up to 10 hands (40 inches) maximum. This small stature means they’re not ideal for adults, but they’re great ponies for children learning to ride.
This breed comes in a solid color, most often bay, grey, or roan. Depending on the color, a Guoxia horse will cost upwards of $1000.
Learn More About Small Horse Breeds
Small horse breeds vary a lot in both size and temperament. Where some thrive as riding horses, others are only suitable as pets, so you should carefully consider why you want a small horse before buying one.
There are many other small horse breeds to learn about, so make sure to have a look through our horse breeds guide on our blog.