Mini, Piny or Horse Babysitter?

I’m just looking for opinions here. My old horse is failing and I fear that I’m going to have to put her down sooner rather than later. I need a 3rd equid on the property. I currently have a 15 year old mare that’s difficult and has to have a companion and I have a 6 year old that I bought several months ago. I can ride both but the new horse is to be my main ride.
I’m wondering for those of you that have them is there a big difference between keeping a horse and a pony? Vaccinations, teeth, farrier I imagine will all be the same for a pony as a horse. I’ve heard that minis come with problems of their own and I don’t want something high maintanence or a sheep or goat. I’m thinking that maybe I should have something that I can ride also if I’m going to support it anyway. Thoughts and experiences?

I’ve had all those babysitter options at one time or another: minis, ponies, sheep, goats, hinnies, and retiree horses. Honestly, IMO, I would disregard sheep goats and minis and hinnies/mini mules immediately. They need super-impervious fencing, careful diets, specialized vet/foot care that can be hard to find, and a kick from your full-size horses could injure or kill them.

Which leaves a pony or another horse. If you’re small enough to ride a pony, then you would save some money on feed and pasture wear-and-tear, but it may be hard to find a pony personality that matches with your mare’s.

I had the best luck offering to (semi)permanently foster a retiree full-size horse from a local rescue. You might find one that you could potter around on occasionally, and if the personality didn’t mesh, you could send that one back and try another. I did this twice and never regretted it for a minute!

Good luck with whatever you decide!


Personally I’d find a horse that you could ride. And depending on your height, it could be a smaller horse in the 14.3-15.1 hand range that require a little less calories.

Also consider your living arrangement- are your horses on pasture? Sometimes ponies require strict eating requirements to thwart obesity and other diet related conditions.

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I have three. Two are my ‘competition’ horses that I am their main rider. One is 8 and the other is 4, coming 5. My third horse is one that I purchased with the idea of a companion and a horse that I can put anyone on for trail riding, up-down lessons etc. He is an absolute saint and perfect companion. Better yet, I can take the two competition horses to shows, clinics, etc and leave the other one home without a peep. He seems to like his ‘staycations’ at home and be able to receive all the attention from my SO.

I have had a pony for companion purposes and competed him through PSG as well. He was cheaper to keep until his allergies required rather expensive medical management (I still own him but he’s now a companion to a friend’s horse and in an area where his allergies no longer flare up).

I find it easier to ‘justify’ a companion when they are either a piece of cake to care for OR have more than one purpose.

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specific horse breeds are cheaper to keep

We have old style Lippitt based Morgans, their metabolism is slower thus they require a fraction of the feed/hay some horses require. (however they do drink a lot of water)

The three Morgans we have are fed less than the grand daughters’ goats

We had a pony, he lived to be in the 45 year range… his last four or so years he cost more to keep than the three Morgans as we had to feed him four times a day with an Equine senior made into a mash which he kind of threw around his paddock.

The three miniatures we have are basically a pain in the butt as wherever they are is not where they want to be. Our farrier is on his hands and knees trimming them. The three poop more than a real horse, the three eat the same as one real horse

Personally if I were OP I would get a mirror or a TV for the other horses to watch rather add another one to a small herd.


I would get an equine that requires similar feed to your horse. Keeping horses separated during feeding time, worrying about if someone watching them is remembering which is which could be just as much work as getting an easy keeper.

If you have good grass, definitely avoid horses that are so easy to keep they require a muzzle. My friends had and they would have to watch that the muzzle didn’t get removed and sometimes kept all 3 in at night just so the pony could have some muzzle-free time but that increased time and money with cleaning stalls.


What @Ajierene said. If your horses are out on grass 24/7, get a companion who can handle that. I got a mini donkey as a companion when I first built my barn and I adored him, but he could not handle as much grass as the horses. Then I had to get a companion for the companion (another donk from a rescue) so they could be separated from the horses. When that failed too (the donkeys started beating each other up so badly there was blood) I rehomed the donkey. I miss him so much! Now I have three horses: a retiree and two riding horses. Thankfully the retiree doesn’t mind being left alone if needed.

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I have had two ponies. Ponies are low maintenance until they are not. The first lived into his 40’s ( as best as we could tell based on his teeth when I got him). He developed pasture heaves shortly after I got him and getting him to another location set a chain of events into play that did in my other horse. He did fine for years by keeping him in a stall at my house during the day in summer. Finally he had neuro problems and colic issues and he was put down.

Next pony developed Cushings after a few years. He is the most expensive horse I own. He doesn’t sweat and has to have perfect hay or he coughs. The Cushings has caught up with him and Prascend has stopped working and I think it is time for him too.

I am not getting another pony. Maybe something that is not hot and quirky and I can ride and get lunge lessons on. All my horses become air ferns so skinny is fine.


This gets my vote.

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Great idea!

Thanks everyone! I’ll start looking for a horse.

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Your decision sounds good, I have minis, although I love them to pieces I have to admit they are pretty high maintenance. If I had to do it again it would be a big ridable pony.

This advice is golden.

I almost need a 4th horse so I can keep my two easy keepers muzzled/dry lotted together and my harder keeper that needs the good hay and feed with a horse of similar needs.

Keeping them separated is a b$*&&. So make sure they have similar eating needs.

If you need easy keeper, get a quarter horse or Morgan.



I lost my mini mare this winter, and now wondering what the heck I will do with my small pony, who was her companion. He cannot be on pasture with my full sized mares, and while they don’t need the grass, I am not sure which one will be willing to stay back on the sacrifice pasture with him instead of turned out on the good pasture. I’m not looking forward to figuring it out either.

So, if you have a TB that can graze all summer long - do not get it a companion that has to be limited. It is just a huge PITA. Same with hay, round bales, etc. Dealing with muzzles and breakouts is far more difficult than feeding the extra hay to the horse that can tolerate it.

ETA - LOL finishing the thread now…I see I wasn’t the first that mentioned this idea. :slight_smile:

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Spot on. Our ponies cost more in maintenance and special accommodation for various metabolic disorders and health needs than most of our full-sized horses.

My donkey is the worth her weight in gold. I wish I had 100 of her. But… echoing what others have said, it is a lot easier if your companion can be managed the same as the horses. My donkey isn’t much cheaper than another horse; the only savings is a slightly reduced feed bill, but it’s not even a great enough savings to be noticeable. Yet as she ages, it’s getting harder to manage her on grass pasture even when muzzled 24/7.


Personally, I don’t think it’s as big of a deal managing horses with different needs as others are saying it is. I have two horses right now. One is a ridiculously super easy keeper and the other is a hard keeper.

It is a little more work in the winter when they are on the dry lot. I finally figured out based on observation that in the morning, the hard keeper doesn’t eat much if any of her portion of hay. So I still put out two nets, but with the one horse’s portion split between the two. And then when I feed lunch hay, the hard keeper is ready to eat, so I put out two portions. (I feed by weight.) The easy keeper does tend to gain a bit over the winter, but it’s manageable.

In the warmer months they are out on grass during the day and I just use a Greenguard muzzle on the easy keeper. She actually ends up losing her winter weight pretty quickly and then maintains at a good weight over the summer. I don’t have any trouble keeping the muzzle on her and she doesn’t mind it.

Both horses come in at dinner time and then get their own hay in their stalls. And of course the hard keeper gets 9 lbs of Triple Crown Senior spread over three meals while the easy keeper gets her v/m supplement over some timothy pellets, but that doesn’t really make anything easier or harder.

So yes, it would be easier if they had similar needs, but I wouldn’t discount another horse just because it has different needs if it otherwise seems like a good fit.

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@Pico_Banana, to be fair, it sounds like your horses are stalled/separated overnight, which makes it easier. If they live in a group 24/7 it becomes much trickier to manage different needs.


@Libby2563 That’s definitely true. Mine are stalled overnight. If I didn’t do that and they were together 24/7, I don’t think I could manage that. I definitely use stall time to “catch up” my hard keeper on calories!

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