Rebecca Howe takes her love for mini horses by the reins
FOR 20 of her 27 years Rebecca Howe has owned miniature horses and every year unlike her "babies” her love for them grows.
It all began at aged seven, when Rebecca's mum decided to buy a mini horse after seeing some at a Brisbane Exhibition.
"It just snowballed from there and I'm so happy she introduced minis into my life,” she said.
"I love their personalities, they all have their own. Some of them are a bit quirky, some of them love attention and some don't.
"They are all so different.”
The Placid Hills local took her passion for mini horses by the reins when she started her business, Excellence Academy, although at times she has so many horses in her care she will occasionally get help from her daughter Emily-Rose, 3, and a farrier.
The help is well received because Ms Howe can have more than 20 horses at a time on her property and in her 12 stables.
"I've stopped counting them,” she said.
"Emily loves minis too and I'm so grateful because it would be really difficult to do what I do if she didn't. It's a real bonding experience for us too.
"I have a 12-horse show team and I wouldn't be able to do it without her - she makes it easier for me by helping me.”
Ms Howe regularly wins awards and show sections with her miniature show horses.
"We are one of the biggest in the business so people send their horses to me to show and train - I also breed and show my own,” she said.
The oldest horse of the stud is a Gelding named Nado Destinado who just turned 23-years-old. Surprisingly Ms Howe revealed mini horses can live up until they are 30-years-old.
"I've looked after him for as long as I can remember,” she said.
"Hopefully my daughter will show him too when she's old enough.”
A typical day for Ms Howe will see her feeding her minis in the morning, brushing them and working them. Every six to eight weeks they will get their hooves done and they are wormed regularly.
Ms Howe said she began breeding miniature horses because she became so passionate about her own, it was the natural path to take.
"I felt like I've had them all my life and I really enjoy the horses the time I get to spend with them,” she said.
"The culture is great too - the atmosphere at shows are amazing and we love going to local Ag shows - we travel nationally for shows too. It's really good fun.”
Miniature horses are derived from larger horse breeds and do not have their own sub-breeds and according to http://miniaturehorse.com/ a mini must be no taller than 34 inches, measured at the top of the shoulders, where the mane ends. A full-grown mini weighs between 68 and 113.3 kilograms.
Although some minis resemble ponies, the ultimate goal for breeders is to create a tiny horse with everything about it the same as a full-sized horse, only smaller. They shouldn't have short legs, thick necks, or big bellies.
"They are really just a scaled down version of a big horse and that's why you get them in so many variations - some are quite heavy in bone some are quite refined,” Ms Howe said.
In terms of the best breeding processes, Ms Howe said the most important thing was bloodlines.
"Looking at the bloodlines and foreseeing what you want to breed is the priority when breeding,” she said.
"It all comes into fruition when they are born, then you can see whether they are exactly what you wanted or what you were aiming for.
"We have one breeding sire named Chase, he's a an imported stallion from America.”
Ms Howe said one of the biggest challenges mini horses will face in their lifetime is foaling.
"Because they are bred down and so small they have a lot of trouble and we need to assist them by putting them under camera surveillance,” she said.
"We will also help to pull their foals out.”
Miniature horses can breed after they are about two years-old and usually foal at about 340 days' gestation. Although they can normally foal between 300 and 340 days.
A regular at the local country shows in the region, Ms Howe said she loved attending because of the community and its support.
"I like showing horses because of the people who come up to you at shows, the best part is the little kids that come up and ask to pat the minis,” she said.
"They usually know nothing about them - I love teaching them because I was about the same age I learnt and it's great fun.
"I love loving minis and how much they give back to you - they really do love you back.”