11 Small Horse Breeds (Miniature Horses Around The World)

small horse breeds

Small horses are a more common occurrence than people would think, and there are a lot of different types.

Some of these small horse breeds were cross-bred for specific regions, whereas some just were just always around. 

Certain miniature horses are extremely rare, whereas some are found in excess. 

In this article, we will be going through some of the smallest horse breeds from across the world. We will discuss what their purpose is, what their physical characteristics are, and what makes them unique. 

Noma Pony

noma pony


The Noma pony is a small breed of horse that originates from Shikoku Island, which is found in Japan. It is the smallest breed of horse native to Japan and is one of eight native Japanese horse breeds. 

This little guy can live up to more than 20 years, and normally grows to an average height of 40 inches. 


The Noma pony is known for its physical characteristics. These include thin legs, a cylindrical body, joints that are thick and tightened oblique buttocks, and very durable hooves.

What Are They Used For?

The Noma horse was never ridden but was used on farms and as a packhorse, especially during the Second World War. This is because they have very strong and big bodies, which makes them perfect for carrying loads on their backs. 

Noma ponies are critically endangered but are still found on farms and in zoos. Breeding efforts are heavily underway in hopes of preventing them from becoming completely extinct. 

Shetland Pony



Shetland ponies are native to Shetland Island in Scotland. A Shetland pony can usually live between 20 to 25 years, and their height can range between 28 and 46 inches, with most having an average height of 40 inches. 

For years, Shetland ponies have been known as strong and hardy horses thanks to their powerful physique. This physique developed as a result of the harsh and intense living conditions that they faced on Shetland Island. 


In terms of physical characteristics, a Shetland pony has small ears that tend to stick out, eyes that are widely spaced, a broad head, short legs, a compact and stout body, and a luscious mane and tail. 

What Are They Used For? 

Shetland ponies are very intelligent and amazing with children. And, although they may look cute and small, they are exceptionally strong and hard working. 

These horses were used to work on farms and to also haul coal in mines. 

They have very thick coats that help them to combat the cold conditions that they had to work in.




A Falabella is a small horse that originated in Argentina. They have an abnormally long life span and can live up to between 40 and 45 years. They are very tiny horses, and usually, only grow between 25 and 34 inches tall. 

The Falabella is the smallest horse breed in the world. They were developed by an Argentinian family, the Falabellas, and came about from cross-breeding a Welsh pony with a Shetland pony. 


Their physical characteristics include a compact body, a big head, a smooth coat, and a slender look. 

The Falabella horse is still perfectly proportional, and their proportions represent more of a horse and not a pony. 

What Are They Used For?

These smaller horses are usually used to give rides and pull carts for small children and are also used as guide animals. 

Miniature Horse



Miniature horses were first bred in the 1600s in Europe. They were originally bred to be companions and house pets for the upper-class society. 

These horses usually live up to 20 to 25 years and can grow up to 38 inches tall, making them one of the smaller horse breeds. 


This small horse breed can be quite difficult to raise, unfortunately. They have very small jaws which makes them susceptible to dental problems, some of which can even lead to colic. 

Miniature horses have a build similar to larger horses, but they are small and muscular. 

What Are They Used For?

These horses can’t be ridden, but they are often used for show jumping, pulling carts, competing in obstacle courses, and racing. They are also frequently used as companion animals, especially for those who are disabled or elderly. 




The Guoxia horse originated approximately 2000 years ago in a region of southwest China. 

Guoxia horses typically grow to be 40 inches high and are purebred ponies. 


They are characterized by their small heads, muscular and short neck, straight back, small and pointed ears,  and dense and strong legs and hooves. 

What Are They Used For?

These horses were commonly used to carry fruit baskets in orchards, which gave them the nickname “horse under the fruit tree”, or “fruit tree horse”.

At one stage, this breed of horse was forgotten for many years and thought to be extinct. Luckily in 1981, a large herd of Guoxia horses was found in their native region of China. 

These small horses are popular amongst children and are often used in petting zoos and for children’s rides.  




This is a critically endangered breed of horse that is native to Japan. They are one of eight breeds that are native to Japan, and in 2019, there were said to be only approximately 100 Yonaguni horses left in the world.

A Yonaguni horse can grow up to 47 inches high, which is slightly taller than some of the other small horses. 


In terms of their physical characteristics, Yonagunis have a large head with a small neck, shoulders that are straight and erect, backs that are long and sloping, and hooves that are hard and long. 

What Are They Used For?

Back in the day, the Yonaguni horse was used in the field of agriculture, and rural life in Japan. Nowadays, though, they are used more for recreational riding, education, and therapeutic riding. 

Virginia Highlander

virginia highlander


The Virginia Highlander is a fairly new breed of horse. They were developed in 1960 on a farm in Virginia in the United States. 

The breeder, William Pugh, wanted to create a small riding horse that can be used by beginners, children, and women. To do this, he crossbred a horse that was cross between an Arabian/Tennessee Walker, with a Welsh Pony.

These horses can grow to a size of 52-56 inches, making them a slightly larger breed of miniature horses.


These horses are very well proportioned, they have strong and muscular bodies with a small head. Their eyes are placed widely apart, they have large nostrils, a short back, angular shoulders, short cannon bones, and hooves that are hard and strong.

What Are They Used For?

These horses are perfect for a family pet, to be a show pony and sport pony. 

Class B Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse

Kentucky mountain saddle horse (class b)


The Class B Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse originated in Kentucky, in the United States of America. 

These horses have an average height of between 44 to 57 inches. Any horse of this breed that measures taller than 57 inches is classified as a Class A Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse. 

The Class B Kentucky Mountain Horse usually lives to be between 25 and 30 years of age. 


They are very muscular, have a compact build with shoulders that are sloped, a deep chest, and an arched neck. They also have quite a flat facial profile. 

What Are They Used For?

Originally, these horses were bred to be working and riding horses. They are extremely strong and sturdy, and can easily travel long distances over rough terrain. 

Today, these horses are still used for riding. They are best suited for beginners, big children, and younger riders. 

The Class B Kentucky Mountain horses have a natural gait that is known as “single foot”. This gait makes the ride extremely smooth and pleasant and makes them very stable over rough terrain. 

Icelandic Horse



The Icelandic Horse is native to Iceland. They can grow up to between 52 and 56 inches and have a lifespan of about 25 to 30 years. 

Even though this horse is considered to be a small horse, it is only classified as one by 3 inches. This makes them larger than normal ponies, but their legs are much shorter. 


They are characterized by their thick and beautiful coats that make them able to withstand harsh conditions. They also have a deep chest, broad withers, and short and muscular legs. 

This is a gaited horse breed and has a stepping movement called “tolt”, which is used to classify their single-footed pace. 

What Are They Used For?

This gait is very comfortable for a rider, and they can carry people over rough terrain. These horses are also used for herding and controlling and managing sheep and animal flocks. 

Fjord Horse



The Fjord Horse originates from Norway and is also known as a Norwegian Fjord Horse.  They can grow up to between 53 and 59 inches tall and can live up to 30 years. 

Their average height is normally about 54 inches, and they are about 6 inches shorter than normal-sized horses. 


This miniature horse breed is characterized by its muscular build. They have strong arched necks, strong legs, and a body that is compact and muscular. Their heads are medium-sized, and they have a flat and defined forehead, with a dish-shaped face. They have small ears, big eyes, a dun coat, and a mane that stands quite erect.

What Are They Used For?

Fjord horses are commonly used on mountains and in the agricultural sector. They also pull tourist carts and can be ridden by adults. 

They have a very smooth gait which makes them very pleasant to ride or to have your cart pulled by them. 




The Haflinger horse is native to Austria and originated in a province called Haflige. This horse breed can grow up to 57 inches and can live up to 40 years old. 


This horse breed is beautiful and is known for its coloration, which ranges from light gold to dark chestnut, with white points on its legs. They also have a short and stocky build but are very strong. They have durable and sturdy legs and hooves. 

What Are They Used For?

These horses are extremely hardy and were bred to be working horses in mountainous areas. They can last on very little food, and also have a strong heart and lungs that can survive the mountain air. 

These are excellent family horses, as they are very calm, have a great temperament, and are intelligent. They can carry children, young riders, and adults. 

These horses often compete in dressage and show jumping competitions, and are great for Western riding. 

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