Miniature Horse-Shetland Pony Tack and Supplies


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Blanketing Your Miniature Horse/Shetland Pony

Posted on January 27, 2017 at 10:15 AM

Blanketing My Miniature Horse/Shetland Pony

How to measure your Miniature Horse/Shetland Pony

Measure the distance from the centre of the chest to the point of the hip, keeping the tape measure level. This measurement, in inches is your animal’s blanket size.


 What Type Of Blanket Does My Animal Need?


TEMP                         HORSE WITH FULL COAT                             CLIPPED HORSE

60°F/15°C                  Requires none                                                 May require a sheet if rainy or windy

50°-60°F/10-15°C      Nothing or light blanket(80 gram)                    Light to medium blanket(80-250 gram)

32°-40°F/0°-4°C        Nothing or light/medium(80-250 gram)            Medium/heavy(200-300 gram)

14ׄׄ°-32°/-10°-0°C       Nothing or light/medium(80-300 gram)            Medium(200-300 gram) with liner or 300 gram

<14°F/-10°C              Medium/heavy(300 gram and up)                    Heavy(300-500 gram) with liner



Your horse’s age, body condition, health, coat condition/thickness, activity level, access to shelter, time spent outside and previous experience/exposure to these types of temperatures all must be considered as well. These are only to be taken as general guidelines.


 Blanket Types

 Turnout Blankets

Turn out blankets have an inner layer of fill to keep your horse warm, an outer layer which is waterproof to keep them dry and cut the wind. A good turnout blanket with have multiple fittings to keep it in place, including leg straps. Most will have a tail flap to keep the wind out and the side snugly in place. Many will have the additional fittings for a neck cover.

Turnout Sheets

Turnout sheets are lightweight, and usually waterproof to provide protection against rain, wind, hail, snow and mild to moderate temperatures. The blanket will have good fittings and a tail flap to keep it in place and keep the wind out.

Stable Blankets

 Stable blankets are meant to be worn in the barn, and do not need to be waterproof. The should be well fitted and comfortable. Stable blankets could also be used underneath a turnout blanket for added warmth.


 Stable Sheets

  Stable sheets are lightweight, and comfortably fitted, meant to keep your horse clean while they are in the stall. Sheets are not waterproof, however could be used under a turnout for added warmth.



A cooler is meant to be worn after a bathor a heavy workout to help your horse dry

faster and keep from getting cold.

Fly Sheets

Fly sheets are worn to provide protection from insects during the warmer months.





Hot Vs. Cold Therapy

Posted on January 4, 2017 at 10:45 PM

Hot and cold therapies are most effective at healing when applied at the appropriate stage of an injury to muscles, soft tissues, ligaments or tendons.

An injury less than 36 hours old begins to swell and bruise. Left untreated this process can damage uninjured tissues. At this stage applying cold therapy helps to control the inflammation which can cause more damage. Cold therapy causes vasoconstriction (causes the blood vessels to constrict) which helps stop bleeding and bruising. When applied to an injury early enough, cold therapy can shorten recovery time and minimize further tissue damage.

After 36 hours have passed, the swelling should slow and the injury will show distinct edges. The injury will start to become slightly firmer. At this point alternating between cold and hot therapy can start the healing process. Heat encourages circulation and cold prevents new swelling.

As the injury improves the swelling will dissipate while there may still be stiffness and discomfort. At this point heat therapy encourages increased circulation so that your horse's body may quickly repair the damage and remove waste from the affected area.

This advice should not be used as a substitute for professional evaluation by your veterinarian.

Dentistry; Don?t Forget the Little Guy!

Posted on February 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM

 Michelle Courtemanche, DVM www.mpequine.com

 With my interest and experience in the Miniature Horse industry I am surprised at how few of them I see for dental care. Equine dentistry can be one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of veterinary medicine. These days many veterinarians have special training in dentistry and several have devoted their practice exclusively to the subject. As an associate at McKee-Pownall Equine Services I perform a variety of services on a daily basis but dentistry has always been area of special interest to me. You never know what you are going to find when you look into a horse’s mouth…and it’s a great upper body workout!

  All Minis benefit from regular dental care. The adult teeth erupt continuously over their lifetime and are ground down through the action of chewing. Due to the conformation of their jaws they form sharp enamel points on the cheek side of the upper cheek teeth and the tongue side of the lower cheek teeth. Left as is, these sharp points can cut into the cheeks and tongue causing painful sores that bother the horse when it is chewing or wearing a bridle. Sharp enamel points are a normal finding that must be maintained. A painful mouth can lead to weight loss, inefficient use of feed, infections, performance issues and poor health in general. Every horse should have a full dental exam once a year. A proper exam includes sedation and a full mouth speculum. The speculum allows the veterinarian to visualize the entire mouth, feel problem areas and use mirrors or other tools to complete a thorough exam. The sedation ensures that the horse is cooperative, relaxes their jaw for speculum placement and helps alleviate fear and nervousness. The Mini’s small size is not a reason to use physical restraint instead of sedation.

  Miniature Horses present a number of challenges to the dental practitioner with their cramped working space and special set of problems. Though often overlooked, Minis usually have a greater need for good oral care than their large counterparts. Efforts by breeders to produce horses with smaller, more refined heads has led to disproportionately large teeth compared to skull size. For this reason Minis are prone to tooth overcrowding which predisposes them to problems with occlusion (teeth that don’t meet properly) and eruption (not enough space for teeth to come in normally). As a direct result of their small head/large teeth, tooth impactions, sinusitis and eruption bumps can occur. Teeth can become impacted (unable to erupt) when there isn’t enough room for them in the mouth. These teeth will occasionally erupt in an abnormal location (for example through the hard palate) requiring extraction. Large tooth roots filling the small sinuses can interfere with normal drainage and lead to a sinus infection. Minis also suffer from eruption bumps on the upper and/or lower jaws. These are generally noted in 2-3 year olds when their pretty head becomes lumpy and unattractive. It is a normal physical change that often resolves on its own but could indicate a problem if it doesn’t go away or is associated with oral pain. Early diagnosis of these problems can prevent serious and permanent damage. Also, in a breed where dwarfism genes are at play we judge our breeding animals on the correctness of their bite. Over/under bites are considered a serious flaw in the breed standard. High ridges on the cheek teeth can restrict front to back motion of the jaw and create an apparently flawed bite. Often by rasping these ridges down, the bite will correct itself. It is important to check the whole mouth frequently in youngsters and prior to making decisions on breeding stock.

Your Miniature Horses deserve a healthy, comfortable mouth. For most, this means a thorough dental exam and float once a year. For horses with problems your vet may have to see them more often. When it comes to equine dentistry it is much easier to prevent a problem than correct one. Whether your Mini is a competition horse or a backyard pet, dental care needs to be part of their annual maintenance. Diligence now can prevent a lot of discomfort, expense and heartache long term.





Cold Weather Care of Your Horse

Posted on October 16, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Maintain a regular deworming program is essential to the health of your horse.  Check out Mckee-Pownell Equine Services great info on deworming protocols. http://www.mpequine.com/education/health-care-faq/deworming  You will need to do a deworming in November, which one will depend on your protocol.

Hooves continue to grow throughout the winter and need to be trimmed regularly, 6-8 week intervals usually work well. Although some horses with issues may need to be done more regularly. Horses standing in any kind of wet conditions will need to be regularly monitored for thrush.

Check with your veterinarian regarding fall vaccinations, especially if your horse will be going off the farm and will be exposed to other equine.

A horse's natural coat is meant to keep him warm, letting it grow in thick and natural is his best defense against cold weather.  A horse that has been recently clipped and must be exposed to the cold my need the additonal warmth of a blanket. As well aged horses or ill horses may need additional blanketing. Blanketed horses exposed to the elements need a waterproof, breathable blanket as a wet blanket is the worst thing for them, likely worse than wet hair. Blanketed horses should have their blankets removed daily so you can monitor their coat and body condition.

Even a full natural coat will lose it's insulating loft if it gets wet, and wind can strip a horse' of it's heat as fast as moisture. Shelter must be available at all times;shelter that protects from rain, snow and wind.

Dentistry in equines is of vital importance from even a young age. Horse with dental issues cannot adequately use calories or nutrition. A fall consultation with your vet along with fall vaccinations and deworming will have your horse ready for the winter months.

Horses must have access to fresh, clean water year round to aid in healthy digestion. Having snow to eat does not count as access to water.  Ensure that your horse has access to water at all times and it is not frozen over.

As the temperatures drop your horse's need for calories increase. Digesting food is their internal source for heat. If your horses are pastured you may consider supplemental vitamins and minerals in the winter months as the access to grass decreases.

Taking care of your horses takes a bit of extra time and thought in the winter months but they will appreciate your efforts.




Harnessing Your Miniature Horse

Posted on March 23, 2011 at 8:00 PM

The Harness


A harness is comprised of many different parts, that are all there to do a job.

1. Saddle

2. Terrets

3. Lines(Reins)

4. Waterhook

5. Crupper Strap

6. Shafts

7. Girth

8. Tug

9. Wrap Straps

10. Shaft Stop(brass fitting on cart)

11. Breastcollar

12. Singletree


14. Traces

15. Breastcollar Buckles

16.Shaft Tips

17. Breeching

18.Holdback Straps


20.Crupper Strap

21.Footman Loops(brass fitting on the cart)

22. Dock

The vehicle attaches to the back saddle(1) which is the main component of the harness. The saddle is a wide, stiff strap of leather with a “tree” inside, padded underneath that sits over the horses back. The saddle is fitted with terrets(2) on either side, which is where the lines(3) run through. In the center is the waterhook(4) which is used as an anchor for a check rein.(note the horse in diagram 3 is not wearing a checkrein) Directly behind that is where the crupper strap(5) attaches. The vehicle is steered when the horse pushes either right or left into the saddle. When pulling a two wheeled vehicle the horse is also supporting the front end of the vehicle, for the comfort of the horse the saddle needs to be wide enough to evenly distribute this weight. A larger animal/vehicle requires a wider saddle. A slightly narrower saddle is preferred in the breed ring and is also better for ventilation of the back. A good compromise needs to be met between good distribution of force, cooling of the horse and good looks. A “fine” harness would be look great for a shorter time in the breed ring, while a somewhat wider saddle for cross country driving more appropriate. When pulling a four wheel vehicle the horse is only bearing the weight of the shafts(6) and the saddle can be narrower without harm.

The saddle is held on by the girth(7). The girth should be plain leather so that it can get a bit slippery when the horse sweats to prevent chafing. The saddle needs to grip, girth needs to be slightly slippery.

When hitching to a single horse vehicle there are two types of shaft tugs used. These are the English or open tug and the French tug. This harness shows an English tug(8). English tugs are used with wrap straps(9) that are wound around the shafts of the cart. This pulls the shafts in and down. Generally taking the strap behind the shaft and back of the tug, up over the shaft, and then crossing the front of the tug, under the shaft to the front of the tug, back over the shaft and down to the buckle. The shaft stop(10) on the cart is sitting right behind the tug. Do up one side first and then the other. The girth should be snug but not tight. French tugs have billet straps that hold down the shafts and attach to a shaft girth. The French tug is pushed right close to the front of the shaft stop and is tightened and buckled into the billet on each side. A third type of tug called a “Tilbury” similar to French tugs, are used on four wheel vehicles. The level of the shafts is adjusted by moving the tug up or down on its billet attached to the saddle. Straight shafts should be level or tip slight up following the line of the breast collar(11).

The horse gets the vehicle in motion with either a neck collar or breastcollar. The breastcollar is the most common type used; it is a wide strap of leather that encircles the chest of the horse. Many breast collars have buckles at their ends where the traces attach for ease of adjustment. A breast collar creates a sawing motion, therefore it is important that it attaches freely to the singletree(12) on the cart and not be restricted in anyway. The neck strap(13) controls the height of the breast collar or the “point of draught”. The point of draught in the vertical center point of the draught force. This is important; it needs to be low enough to not interfere with the windpipe but not below the point of the shoulder where it interferes with the action of the front limbs. Many horses showing in the breed ring wear martingales, these attach to the center of the girth at the front, come up between the front legs where the lines run through them. It is important to always have rein stops on your lines when using a martingale so that your buckle doesn’t get caught inside the ring of the martingale causing an unpleasant result. A false martingale is also used outside of the show ring- it can be helpful in minimizing the side to side movement of the breast collar or forward separation that occurs when stopping. (Note the horse in diagram 3 is not wearing a martingale or rein stops).

Traces(14) are adjusted by the breastcollar buckles(15) or by choosing one of the holes on the end of them. Shaft tips(16) should be at the point of the shoulder when the horse is in draught. If you find your traces too short there are trace extenders available, never hook a horse too close.

Often in the breed ring, the breeching(17) which act as the brakes are left off of a fine harness appointment. While working on flat ground for short periods of time this isn’t harmful however if you will be driving your horse on ground that is not flat you will need to have breeching on. Generally the braking system consists of breeching and holdback straps(18). The breeching is a wide strap which connects to the cart by the holdback straps. When the vehicle pushes forward the brunt of the force is put on the two straps and thus the breeching seat. The breastcollar and traces get the vehicle moving forward; the breeching and holdback straps get it stopped. When the breeching is left off in the showring, the back saddle and the shaftstops take the brunt of the force; this is only acceptable on flat ground. The breeching should sit below the point of the buttocks, this is important as breeching sitting too high can ride up when slowing down and put a lot of force at the base of the tail. This kind of force up high may cause a horse to panic and kick or try to run. Breeching set too low will interfere with the movement of the hind legs. The breeching is adjusted by the loin strap billets which fit into either two or four buckles or uptugs on the breeching. The loinstrap(19) should sit at the highest point of the croup; there is a slot through the crupper strap(20) to hold it in place.


The holdback straps are attached to the breeching through rings at the end of the breeching seat. These holdback straps attach to the vehicle at the footman loops(21) and wrap around the shafts. The holdbacks are adjustable by how you wrap around the shafts and what hole you use on the billet. Ideally you should adjust to have a clearance of four fingers between the breeching seat and the buttocks while in draught.


The crupper strap runs from the D staple on the back of the saddle, down the center of the spine, holding the loin strap over the high point of the croup and then slits to two sections. Attached to these two sections is a smooth, tube like loop called a dock(22). The dock fits under the base of the tail and helps to hold the crupper strap in place. Many cruppers have two billets where it splits in two and you can make adjustments at the dock. Use these buckles first to adjust the loin strap(23), if more adjustment is needed then move to the adjustment available on the forward part of the crupper strap. The crupper is there to hold the harness in place but does not need to be extremely tight and will cause discomfort if it is. Always keep the dock on your harness clean as it comes in contact with an extremely sensitive area on your horse and can easily chafe them.

That’s a brief overview of harnessing.





The Driving Bridle

Posted on March 22, 2011 at 8:57 PM

The Driving Bridle

A driving bridle is made up of several parts-


2.caveson or noseband




6.winkerstay billet

7.the crown


9.cheek pieces

10.the bit

11.the throatlatch


13.sidecheck or overcheck

The crown of the bridle(7) is the piece that sits over the top of your horse’s poll and nestles behind the ears. Ears and poll are very sensitive so good fit are essential and you should always be gentle bridling your animal. It should fit closely but not tightly behind the ears allowing the browband(5) to cross the forehead comfortably. The browband(5) is held in place by rosettes(12) or conchos on either side of the bridle.


The cheekpieces(9) hold the blinkers(1) in place as well as the bit(10) in the horse’s mouth. They have buckles at the top and bottom. The top buckle sits just below the rosette(12) on the bridle and attaches to the crown billets here. This is where you will raise or lower the blinker(1). The blinker(1) should sit so that the eye of the horse is even with the middle of the blinker(1). The blinker(1) keeps the horse from seeing what is behind him, horses have wide peripheral vision. Blinkers(1) come in several shapes including square, round, hatchet or D-shaped, this used to be in accordance with specific traditions which are now rarely followed so now it is more a matter of taste. Any adjustment to blinkers(1) should be made before attempting to adjust bit height.

A noseband(2) or caveson goes around the horse’s nose approximately two fingers below the boney prominence of the cheek. If it has a strap going over the horse’s poll adjust this first then adjust the noseband(2) itself. Nosebands(2) need not be tight, you should be able to put a couple of fingers inside the band. Now you could buckle the throatlatch(11), this does not need to be snug, they will need the room when they flex their neck.


The bottom buckle holds the bit in the horse’s mouth, the bit(10) should be firmly into the mouth without causing any more than two wrinkles in the sides of the mouth. It should not hang down and leave a gap either. This is a matter of personal preference.

Next you can adjust the winker stays(3). It is easiest to unbuckle the winker stay billet(6), adjust your blinkers(1) as narrow or as wide as they need to be and then buckle the billet(6) in the appropriate position.

The bridle in my diagram has a sidecheck(13) on it, it runs from the side of the driving bit up through rings on the gag runner(8) and back in a loop to a strap that hooks to the harness at the waterhook. In most cases a sidecheck is attached the sides of the driving bit at the back behind the bridle and hooks to the waterhook when the horse is working as seen here. An overcheck is generally used with a check bit that goes into the mouth separately. Some people choose to drive with no check.

Parts of the Horse/Harness Parts

Posted on March 21, 2011 at 8:26 PM

A couple of diagrams I thought would be helpful. I get a lot of questions regarding harness and how to hitch to a cart. I am going to add to my blog later on how to fit harness and cart.