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Small is beautful
At first glance, they look like toy rocking horses.
Cute and cuddly. Visitors to the 4-H building Sunday at the BCNE were almost immediately drawn to a pen in which horse groom Leah Foxcroft sits in the hay, surrounded by four miniature horses. They’re all vying for her attention. As the Free Press photographer moves in for a closer shot, Foxcroft gets an impromptu nuzzle on the cheek from six-week-old Phoenix.
Helen Slump and her husband Perry own HP Stables. They love animals and have more than a mere menagerie. Their rural acreage in the Buckhorn area south of Prince George is home to miniature cows, donkeys, zebu, sheep and horses along with several regular-sized critters such as alpaca, llamas, chickens, turkeys, pigs and riding horses.
“All of the animals run free – except the stallions – so they are used to each other and they all get along,” said Slump.
She acquired her first pint-sized horse in 2000. Since then Slump has been breeding and raising double registered miniature horses. She also belongs to a local equine club that offers helpful advice and a chance to share notes with other miniature horse enthusiasts.
Miniature horses are not for riding, she points out, but they make excellent pets. They can pull things like small sleds and they provide lots of fun, frolic and entertainment for their owners.
“Basically they are herding animals, so it’s better if they are raised with another miniature horse or two,” says Slump.
“They like to play together, and they really love to do jumping – as long as their owner or handlers are running alongside them.”
Properly cared for, miniature horses can live for a long lifetime.
“They can live to be 20 to 30 years – or much more – depending on things like how well they are cared for and their general health. Some of them can live a very long time, just like some humans can,” says Slump.
Costs to buy, raise and care for miniature horses are generally much less than their full-sized counterparts.
“Each horse needs about 50 bales of hay a year at a total cost of about $200. Then there is veterinarian bills and farrier costs,” Slump says.
“I think the reason mine are so calm and placid is because I handle them from a very early age and they become used to people. They are very affectionate and they love to be groomed.”
There are rules, though.
“We don’t allow nipping or kicking, they learn that from a young age.”