The history of the Miniature Horse is based on legends, speculations and facts that were collected over many years.

Some people say the Miniature Horse of today dates back to Eohippus, the dawn horse, that was only 25 to 50 cm high. Eohippus became extinct about 50 million years ago.

Bones of Miniature Horses were found in the graves of Egyptian Pharaos and it is said that these horses were gifts to the Pharaos' wives.

From about the 14th century stable managers in Europe crossed the smallest horses to each other. These little animals were a curiosity at Royal Courts and in great demand. In 1850 Eugenie, Napoleon's third wife, had a Miniature Horse that pulled her around in a small cart. The heavier type of Miniature, derived from Shetland Ponies, was used in coal mines in England.

A well-documented line of Miniature Horse is the Falabella in Argentina which is recognised as a separate breed today.

The first Miniature Horses arrived in the USA in 1880. In 1974 a Belgian emigrated to America and took 39 Miniature Horses with him. He started the well-known Van't Huttenest Belgian bloodline. Today there are well over 160 000 registered Miniatures in the USA.

South Africa's Miniature Horses were developed in the country and are known and recognised in terms of legislation as South African Miniature Horses. Among the pioneers were Mr Wynand de Wet of Lindley who started breeding Miniatures using Shetlands in 1945. Mr Koos Johnstone of Wakkerstroom tried to breed refinement by using a small Arabian stallion in his breeding programme. Mrs Mien du Toit of Petrus Steyn also used Arabians in her bloodline. Both these bloodlines still produces champions today.

The SA Miniature Horse Breeders' Society was founded in November 1984 by eleven breeders. In September 1989 the SA Stud Book and Livestock Improvement Association accepted the breed as an independent breed. The Society presently has 45 members and about 700 registered horses. Members come from all parts of South Africa as the breed does well in any of the country's ecological regions.

In South Africa Miniature Horse breeders are constantly trying to better breeding programmes. In recent years ten stallions and nine mares have been imported from America in an attempt to breed more horse-like Miniatures. Two Miniature Appaloosas are amongst these imports. The modern SA Miniature Horse is well-tempered with excellent conformation. The Breed Standards, updated in 2000, guide breeders on a defenite path. South African Miniature Horses are not ponies, dwarfs or genetic errors, but scaled-down models of full-sized horses.

SA Miniature Horses are gentle, affectionate and easy to handle. They make ideal companions or pets and are excellent as first horses for small children. They need very little food and only small pastures and shelters. Horses are inspected and selected by officials of the Society at the age of two-and-a-half years and again at five years. Mares of 95 cm and smaller which comply with the Breed Standards are taken up in the Stud Book. Mares over 95 cm up to 100 cm in height, with the right conformation, are registered in the Base Stud Book. Stallions must not exceed 90 cm in height. Geldings must not exceed 100 cm.

The Society anually organises several shows where owners of Miniatures can compete in breed, riding, jumping, driving and costume classes. Apart from regional shows, the highlight every year is the SA National Championshop Show.

Over the past 25 years the breed has not only become much smaller, but also improved tremendously in overall quality and conformation. At the moment there is a tremendous interest among the public to become breeders and part of the Miniature Horse Industry in South Africa.