janet wrote:I have a feeling that there's a (regrettable) trend towards breeding miniature ponies as pets.
Miniature horses apparently are the result of some mutations in wild herds that were trapped in small canyons for many generations.
That dancing pony is a Shetland and, if my eyes don't deceive me, the larger grey pony is of the Highland type. These are the two breeds of pony native to Scotland. The Shetland Islands lie to the North of mainland Scotland and give their name to the short but extremely tough Shetland pony. No canyons up there but the restriction of a group of islands probably led to a limited gene pool.
My argument with the miniaturising of horses is based on the fact that a domesticated horse is a working animal. Indeed the Shetland pony in its home habitat is a working animal, capable of doing a day's haulage around the croft and carrying a small adult. It's certainly not a pony to put a small child aboard as it's way too strong and intelligent........walk to grass, put down head to eat grass, decant small child over head and onto grass, eat around small child......... But for older children who can ride already and have the length of leg needed to get round their barrelly bodies, Shetland ponies can provide great fun. Those Shetland pony Grand Nationals you see can only take place with the co-operation of the Shetlands and boy, do they have fun.
Mucking about with them genetically to produce something 'small and cute' removes this capability but not the need to channel energy and intelligence. Horses in a domestic environment get bored and develop all kinds of traits which are seen as undesirable in a pet. Then, just like every other pet animal once the novelty has worn off, they get dumped complete with bad habits.
And we all know what happens to unwanted horses don't we kiddies?