First American Miniature Horse born at Czech farm

23-02-2005

Miniature Horses are the smallest horses in the world. But the fact that they are never taller than 86 centimetres does not stop them from being one of the bravest breeds. In the Czech Republic there are only three people breeding these mini-horses. One of them is Antonin Sadlo, who recently became the proud owner of the first ever mini-horse born in the country. We went to visit the Czech Republic's new citizen at its home in Roztoky, near Prague.

Antonin Sadlo has had miniature horses at his farm for some three years now. He owns four mares and one stallion.

"Some eleven months ago, our oldest mare, Monteiths Katie, got pregnant and my wife and I were excited and proud at the prospect of being able to witness the first ever birth of a mini-horse in this country. Unfortunately, my wife did not live to see the event. When the day neared, I didn't leave Katie's side for five days. The colt was born five days early and it was a very difficult birth. I was expecting two more foals in the next two months and to my surprise the second foal came to this world just a few days later."

The 17 year old Katie and her older daughter were brought to the Czech farm five years ago. They are originally from the United States. The mother of the second foal is originally from Canada. The two new farm residents will be christened in April at a spring horse show in Prague. Their father is the five year-old Toyhorse Evening Star, who was brought to the farm from the UK two years ago.

Antonin SadloAntonin Sadlo "I used to work in a zoo and bred Shetland ponies. But it had always been my dream to own miniature horses. When I got older - I am now 75 - I sold my Shetland ponies and acquired the mini-horses."

One of Mr Sadlo's proudest specimens is Lovely Sunset:

"Lovely Sunset, is only 68.5 cm tall and is a Falabella. In the mid 19th century in Argentina, the Falabella family used Spanish horses taken to Latin America for selective breeding and soon had a herd of small horses. They then refined the breed by introducing other breeds like Welsh ponies, Shetlands, and small horses from Eastern Europe, into the blood line and crossing the smallest with the smallest. The Falabella is a very rare breed and has only spread around the world in the last fifty years or so."

There is much speculation about the exact origin of the English, American and other miniature horses. They are the result of nearly 400 years of selective breeding of many breeds (Shetland and Icelandic Ponies, Arabs, Quarter Horses and others). The first true Miniature is believed to have originated in Europe, where it was bred to serve as pets for the European nobility. Being smaller than a pony, stout, and able to pull weight many times their own, miniature horses were also used to pull ore carts in shallow coal mines.

Today, most miniature horses are bred for recreation. At Mr Sadlo's farm, they run around in the meadow and are occasionally taken to horse shows around the country to be shown off. Although each horse could be sold for some 5,000 euros, Mr Sadlo does not plan to let them go.

23-02-2005