Minis usually having bigger issues for their small size when it comes to being overweight. The way you can stay ahead of these issues includes two things exercise and a healthy diet. Without the combination of the two of these things it may lead to some health concerns down the road.
So how much exercise does a mini horse really need?
Miniature horses depending on the time of year should be exercised almost daily or at least 3-5 times a week depending on their daily activities. 1-2 days off or light duty will be all they need to recover unless lame. Having more minis or other horses for them to run around with will help with their exercise and keep their weight down.
If your mini is already in shape that is great then you can keep doing what you are doing or take some of our exercises and sample routines below into account. If your mini is badly over weight you may want to contact your vet first to suggest some different feed you can slowly introduce as well as starting them on a workout regimen.
Also if very overweight you need to start them slow maybe something like a 30 minute walk we also go over obese mini workouts below as well. Don’t just take our opinion on getting your mini into shape with exercise and a healthy diet we have gone out and gathered info from several different horse forums and websites that we even use to help guide us.
This information is from real mini horse owners and their opinions on the matter. We curated this information and only corrected some grammar and spelling to help assist with reading. Other then that all the answers have remained the same.
Exercising Miniature Horse Straight From The Owners
1. Wingnut “Free Lunging Works Best” – For our two yearlings, I’m not “working” them per se. They are left to their own devices to play and frolic as they please. I am trying to walk them a couple of times a week, as much a way to expose them to different things as it is to give them some exercise.
For our two year old, I’m doing some “free lunging” in our dry lot (alone!). I’m starting slow with only one 10 minute sessions every other day and hope to build up to 15 minutes and slowly introduce some traditional lunging on a lead line as I start working on her training for pulling a cart next year when she’s 3. She’s our super easy keeper so she needs the work to keep her from getting overly fat.
Our 11 yr old mare is also doing a combination free lunging and traditional lunging on a lead line several times a week for short periods (15 minutes). We do not have a round pen. We’re working to tone her muscles as we build her weight back up. The hope is the increased activity will also stimulate her hunger.
When lunging either horse, I work to keep them trotting and not breaking into a full canter or gallop. I do this whether I’m “free lunging” or using a lead line.
2. MyMinis “5 days a week closer to shows” – I have been exercising mine for the past 2 mths 5 days a week cause of Nationals, but they were used to 3 days a week. I want them in the best shape
possible. However, I have a 29″ that the weight just won’t seem to come off and the rest could even stand to be a little thinner, But they look in good shape and clipping will certainly make them
look even better. I’m not going to stress over it. I like them to have their pasture time and if it means being out of the hot barn in the pasture where they can get under the cool trees well so be it. I
let them out early then I put them up in the heat of the day when the barn is not as hot as it is outside and turn fans on them.
I canter them for 10 min, fast trot for 5-10, then walk for 5 or so. I do it by voice commands and hand signals and in the form of driving voice commands cause I have 2 that drive and one that will
get trained to drive so I’m teaching him the commands. He’s very good at it.
Have a 4 mth old weanling that I put outside the round pen and he runs around while I let the others in doing their thing it’s so funny to watch him. He thinks he’s big stuff.
In the winter I cut back to 2 days a week cause everyone around here runs a lot cause of the coolness, sometimes I’ll do 3 if the weather is good. I slowly start back up again. But I let them be
horses after Nationals.
3. MapleGum “Lunge around the yard” – I have a similar problem with Bailey. During the spring (now) I have to watch his grass intake as he blows up like a balloon. I do use a grazing
muzzle which i find helps a lot. he can still be out in the big field, playing, but has limited feed.
I also lunge him in the round yard, although I haven’t done that since last year. You must build up to it slowly though.
Are you able to get your colt out on walks…like taking a dog for a walk?
I know that Bailey and Willow play HARD out in the field and will gallop around for long periods, stretching their legs and being silly. Is your colt out in a field with friends so that he can play?
Another good idea is to soak any hay you feed to leach out the sugars before you feed it.
A combination of the above got Bailey looking nice and trim and in a much healthier state.
4. My2Minis “Free Lunging As Well” – Free lunging in a round pen is good idea. They like to buck and run for the fun of it. The only way mine get thinner is when I give them less food, though!
5. Lazy J Minis “30 minutes a day 6 days a week” – My horses are worked 30 minutes each day 6 days a week. I do 15 minutes one way and 15 minutes the other in the round pend. If not in
condition of any sorts I usually start with 5 minutes then reverse for 5 minutes and work up from there. By reversing they work both sides, to keep muscle even. You didn’t say how old they are,
but starting with 10 minutes they should be okay. Now I work late evening or early mornings as or day time temps are over 100. Just watch closely how they are doing and adjust accordingly. I
work them at brisk trot. It works the shoulder and chest to build muscle. I drive my horses, and most do performance so they have to be in shape.
6. WRS “Pull them with ATV” – We “pony” our horses using our ATV (Kawaski Mule). It’s easy & the horses really seem to enjoy it better than round pen work. The horses age, & weather dictate
how long we work them. When the weather is dangerously hot we take ours swimming. Excellent workout & no heat worries.
7. FourLuckyHorseShoes “Treadmill workouts even” – At one farm I saw they did a treadmill for 20 minutes and did 10 min each way of cantering/galloping in a round pen which totals
to 40 mins a day…Possibly less in hotter days and don’t forget turn out time.
8. Reighnmaker Miniatures “Long Walks Even” – There are many other ways to help fit up a 4yr old besides lunging and round penning. Don’t discount the benefits of training him to
jump, drive and do any number of other things. Long walks over varied terrain will help not only get him fit (and you) but will help him become a better adjusted horse who is comfortable being
taken from his own yard.
9. RabbitsFizz “No Lunging” – I do not lunge.
Round penning, possibly with sliding side reins, is a possibility with a young stallion, it makes him engage his whole body instead just loping along in his normal shape!
I would not do this for more than a few minutes, at first, and build it up slowly.
Always allow him a few minutes free at the end of each session, just pottering around at his own pace, and then also, leave him to roll and graze so he thinks the pen is a good place to be!
Remember the rule of always walking the last mile home when riding? It applies to ground work too.
I do not really go by time, I go by “laps”
So, I would start with five laps each way at the horse own pace, as it is always hard to control the speed when they start, then ask them for obedience for five more laps each way, then if you are
using the reins, I would attach them once the horse is obedient for speed and direction.
I will build up slowly to as much as 100 laps, in increments of ten, ten one way, ten the other.
It is of paramount importance that the horse works equally on each rein, right form the start.
Hope this is of some help.
10. Huckleberry Hooves “Lunging and Jumping” – I thought that we could share our schedules for our minis to keep them in shape! It might help other people I certainly would appreciate it!
I usually lunge 2x a week, jump 1-2x a week, and go for long walks out on the cranberry bogs any other days. Of course they get a day off too! I also do ground work as a warm up for work outs.
Example Workout Regimen For Mini
This is an example workout routine some friends got off the internet and use themselves at times. Don’t use this one unless your horse is in good shape or at least modify to fit your own horses needs unless this looks exactly like what your mini needs.
I’ve different schedules for different horses and it depends on the season what we are doing.
Winter Training (In December, January, February and March)
– 2x driving (always warmed up with a short walk before hitching!)
– 3-4x running 5-10 miles
– 2-3x walks in the woods (with climbing)
In summer season, we usually do more drives, hikes and longer runs. Sometimes (1x a week), I lunge them. They have 0-1 days off a week or at least 1-2 days a week without hard work, just doing relaxed walks to keep them motivated. Sometimes, I work them twice a day, but this is an exceptional case.
Late Spring/Summer/Fall Training (End of March Through November)
– 3-4x driving
– 2x walks
– 1x running
– 1x ground driving or lunging
If your mini is severely overweight exercising is more then likely not going to be enough. You are going to have to start with their diet and possible even having to put a grazing muzzle on them. I know it sounds terrible and we hardly ever do it but it can be the easiest way if they are in the pasture the majority of the time.
The other options are to keep them in their stalls or turnout a bit more and control their feeding with hay. Each mini should have about 2-3 lbs of hay forage a day. Try to spread it out to 2-3 times of feeding a day. They really don’t need any grain unless they are showing.
You can explore different kinds of grain as well with your vet. Maybe switching to oats from sweet feed would be a good idea. Whatever your vet says I would try as your mini ages the problems will only stack up.
I do like the idea with the ATV and UTV I think our mini would love that for exercise. We are mostly lucky with our pastures and mini getting a ton of exercise but we have had issues with him over eating. My husband would love to put a grazing muzzle on him but we just bring in our horses more often to keep him off the grass and on some leaner hay instead.