How small is the world’s smallest horse and other tiny horses facts you need to know

  • Any breed of horse that measures 14.2hh or under is considered a pony, but it’s those smaller than 11hh that can be considered some of the smallest horses in the world. Some of the smaller individuals of these pony breeds can measure under 1m.

    Smallest horses in the world: record breakers

    Did you know the smallest living male horse is shorter than a greyhound? At 56.7cm or 22.36 inches high Bombel, a nine-year-old miniature Appaloosa who lives in Poland, currently holds the record having been certified by The Guinness World Records for the smallest living male horse in 2018.

    Bombel, which means bubble in English, resides at KasKada stud farm in Lodz. He spends his days in his stable and out in the field with his friends and once a month he undertakes voluntary work visiting a local children’s hospital.

    There is no current record holder for the title of smallest  but the shortest female horse on record was Thumbelina, a miniature brown mare who was even smaller than Bombel, measuring 44.5cm or 17.5 inches. Thumbelina lived in St Louis, Missouri, USA and passed away in 2018 at the age of 17.

    While Bombel and Thumbelina are obviously extreme in size, which is affected by them both having dwarfism, there are several breeds which are naturally small or ‘miniature’.

    Miniature horse breeds include the Falabella, which originates from Argentina and are less than 8hh (81cm or 32inches tall). Falabellas have just 16 or 17 vertebrae compared to a horse’s normal 18 and they have at least one less pair of ribs. Despite being so tiny, they have the same size heart as larger horses and their expected lifespan is 40-45 years.

    Falabellas exist in a range of colours and are renowned for their thick, silky manes and tails. They are popular as therapy or companion animals due to their slim stature and gentle nature.

    Smallest horses in the world: Falabella Pony

    Falabella Pony

    Smallest horses in other parts of the world

    Other miniature horse breeds include the British Miniature (up to 87cm or 34 inches in height), the Dutch Miniature (a maximum of 91cm or 36 inches in height), the South African Miniature (stands at less than 95cm or 37 inches in height) and the American Miniature (no taller than 86cm or 34 inches). All of these have been selectively bred and therefore they have the same conformational proportions as bigger breeds.

    While not classed as a miniature horse, the Shetland pony is certainly a small breed. Hailing from the Scottish Island of Shetland, these hardy ponies, which are less than 10.5hh (110cm), have existed for over 2000 years and were originally used to cultivate the land, as a form of transport and in the pits and mines.

    Nowadays, Shetland ponies have an easier life and are primarily used as children’s riding ponies or for carriage driving. For their size they are the strongest of all horse breeds and their docile nature makes them a perfect mount for a child.

    Another popular small breed of pony in the UK is the Welsh Pony, the smallest of which is the Welsh Mountain or Welsh section A which does not exceed 12hh (122cm). Welsh section B and section C ponies are slightly taller at between 12hh and 13hh while Welsh section D ponies are over 13.2hh.

    It is believed that Welsh Mountain ponies have existed since prehistoric times and are descendants of the Celtic pony. Similarly to Shetlands, they have been used by farmers to cultivate the land and as pit ponies. Today they are predominantly used for children to learn to ride and are popular in the show ring in lead rein and first ridden classes.

    Welsh Mountains are kind and gentle but tough and sturdy, they are well suited to life in the Welsh mountains and can be any colour except piebald and skewbald.

    Japan has two breeds of small horses – the Noma and the Yonaguni, both of which are critically endangered species. The Noma is the smallest of the eight native breeds of Japan and stands at around 10.2hh (107cm) tall.

    Smallest horses in the world: Noma pony

    Noma Pony

    Noma originated from Mongolia so are hardy and strong and agile on mountain terrain. They were originally used in warfare and to work on farmland but today they are ridden by children and are a tourist attraction as the last known figures suggest less than 100 are in existence.

    Yonaguni is native to Yonaguni, the westernmost island of Japan, and most of the population live semi-wild there. They were originally used to carry rice and sugarcane around the island and are well known for being strong and calm. They are typically chestnut in colour and 11.2-11.3hh (117-129 cm) in height.

    Smallest horses in the world: Yonaguni Pony

    Yonaguni Pony

    China’s smallest breed of horse is called Guoxia, which when translated means “under fruit tree horse” and is a nod to their original use which was to hold the fruit baskets under the trees during harvest. Guoxia, which are also an endangered breed, are typically 9-10hh (91-102cm) tall and like the aforementioned breeds are tough and sturdy with gentle characters.

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