When we hear the name Einstein, a distinct image pops into our head: frizzy white hair, the equation E = mc², and maybe a tongue out, too.
But, in the equine world, the name Einstein carries a much different connotation.
A much…smaller one!
Who is Einstein the Miniature Horse?
Einstein is the world’s smallest stallion. When he was born on April 22, 2010, he weighed six pounds and stood fourteen inches off the ground. That’s a heck of a lot lighter than the weight of the average 150 pounds to 200 pounds that most newborn thoroughbred horses weigh!
Einstein was born the parent of two other champion miniature horses. His mother stood a grand 32-inches tall while dad measured 30-inches in height.
When he was born, his co-owner Rachel Wagner was amazed at the lack of dysmorphic features that seem to plague other really tiny horses. “This little guy is like all horses — he’s almost all legs. He is a very perfect looking little boy and not dwarfy looking at all,” Wagner added.
Upon his birth, the world was taken aback at his tiny and, frankly, adorable stature. People from all over the world flocked to his hometown of Barnstead, New Hampshire to get up-close-and-personal with this bite-sized stallion.
Is Einstein the Mini Horse Healthy?
Although horses with dwarfism are often plagued by health issues, Einstein has remained relatively healthy throughout the course of his life.
The only major medical event of Einstein’s life occurred when he suffered a spinal cord injury at just two months old. Einstein set another world-record on the date of his surgery for being the only horse to ever be operated on by a canine neurosurgeon. Due to Einstein’s size, the equine surgeon originally tapped for the job couldn’t perform the operation.
After eight long hours of surgery, Einstein’s spine was held together by just five screws and seven pins. He was standing by the next day and prancing across stage at the Oprah Winfrey Show in Chicago two months later. Years later, you probably couldn’t tell he underwent major spinal surgery if you saw him running.
Where is Einstein the Mini Horse Today?
Shortly after his birth, Einstein moved from New Hampshire to Bellingham, Washington to live with his owners, Charlie Cantrell and Dr. Rachel Wagner, MD.
What’s the Difference Between a Mini Horse and a Pony?
Although Einstein is small like a pony, it’s important to note both that he is not a pony and that ponies and miniature horses are different types of animals.
Mini horses are the product of selective breeding certain, small horse breeds over time. Ponies, on the other hand, gained their short stature and bulky build as a product of evolution to thrive in locations with harsh climates.
To tell the difference between the two, remember that mini horses have a long neck, a small head, and a not-overly-thick mane, tail, and coat. In comparison, ponies are shorter, stockier, and furrier. They often have a thick, short neck and stubby, short legs.
Why Do People Breed Mini Horses?
This question is asked a lot online, and it makes sense: what do you do with a mini horse exactly?
The answer: a whole lot!
Since first being bred in the 1600s, miniature horses have been used for a variety of functions including competing in shows, assisting laborers, and offering companionship – all the things their larger brethren can do!
Today, miniature horses have found a new job in providing comfort, care, and assistance to children, the terminally ill, the elderly, the blind, and people living with mental health issues.
However, while they often work and interact indoors, miniature horses are still horses. They will have the best chance of living a healthy, happy life by being raised outside.
What are the Risks of Breeding Mini Horses?
Breeding miniature horses raises a variety of potential health and musculoskeletal issues that can arise without careful monitoring and care-taking by the horse’s owner.
For starters, dwarfism can be an unfortunate result of breeding even when neither parents are dwarves themselves. Even more unfortunate is that dwarfism tends to be more dramatic and life-altering in miniature horses. A dwarf mini can have any combination of limb, spine, and jaw deformities which can cause any degree of pain or discomfort.
However, while the best practices for keeping a miniature horse happy and healthy are largely the same as they are for large breeds, miniature horses are uniquely susceptible to certain health issues.
Miniature horses often struggle with obesity due to overfeeding and a lack of exercise. Ideally, miniature horses should consume approximately 1.5% of their body weight in hay daily. Vitamin and mineral requirements are also similar to large breeds on a per weight basis.
Miniature horses also tend to suffer from worse dental hygiene than large breed horses due to teeth overcrowding, overbites, and underbites. These frequent dental issues also lead to a reduction in miniature horses’ ability to properly chew and grind feed, making them also prone to developing colic.
To combat the cascading negative health consequences of unchecked poor dental hygiene, veterinarians at UC Davis recommend that newborn foals have their first oral exam shortly after birth to identify any dental abnormalities.
Finally, miniature horses are at a much greater risk than larger breeds for developing hyperlipidemia. This is a condition where a disorder in your mini horse’s lipid metabolism causes fat to be released from lipid stores and transported to the liver where it’s broken down and converted into fatty acids. These fatty acids are then taken up through the liver and converted in triglycerides before being sent into the bloodstream. The horse then develops “fatty” blood which eventually overwhelms the liver and other organs, leading to liver failure and then rupture.
Miniature horses affected with hyperlipidemia will display a stark decline in appetite coupled with lethargy and weakness before progressing to more serious symptoms like tremors, seizure, head pressing, and death. Hyperlipidemia should be suspected in any mini horse that has been off feed more than 24 hours.
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